Adaptation is the Name of the Game

072115 Chris Banner

There are diverse reasons why a movie grabs the attention of an audience or why it sputters in the theaters. Each movie endeavor is a complex mix of story ideas, casting, narrative, writing, cinematography, musical score, advertising, and other intangibles. If one element does not work, the success of the entire movie is at risk. Is it any wonder that studios look to produce movies with a built-in fan base?



This is why studios are more likely to fund remakes or sequels—and why they search out best-selling novels, popular comic series, and MMO, RPG, and FPS games to adapt. * Yet movies developed from games tend to provide mixed results among fans. Some are financially successful—like Lara Croft: Tomb Raider—and some fade away into obscurity. There are two movies in development that gamers will instantly recognize: Borderlands and Warcraft: Fans will have the opportunity to judge for themselves if the massive success of these games can be duplicated on the big screen.

This Ain’t No Place for a Hero . . .

Many studios like developing movies from video games because the story is already laid out and ripe for adaptation. Someone (or more likely an entire team) has provided a ton of material via hours of cut-scenes and gameplay. Many times the source material is filled with characters that have intriguing story arcs. This certainly fits the description of Borderlands.

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 3.50.48 PM

Lionsgate is teaming up with Marvel Studios founder Avi Arad and Ari Arad to turn Gearbox Software’s popular video game into a feature film.  Avi and his son, Ari, have movie credits that include Iron ManSpider ManThe Amazing Spider ManX-MenGhost Rider and Blade. In addition, Ari Arad has worked on the video game adaptation of many feature films including those from the X-Men franchise.

Peter Levin of Lionsgate said the studio is making concerted efforts to stay true to the Borderlands “in-your-face” attitude, and to make good use of the Borderlands property Gearbox “graciously shared.” (Makuch, 2015).

As a fan of the game, I hope that certain elements remain part of any feature film. Borderlands would not be the same without David Eddings portrayal of Claptrap, for instance. Who else could be both that cheerful and manically depressed at the same time? Eddings has a definite skill as a voice actor. Yet the annoying robot gamers love to hate may not make it into a movie adaptation; only time will tell.


You’d Dare Enter my Realm? You are not prepared . . .

Ever since World of Warcraft debuted in 2004, there has been speculation about a Warcraft movie on the part of the fans. In game chat** players discussed the advancement of CGI and filming techniques displayed in The Lord of the Ring franchise that would make this possible. Rumors swirled around Blizzcon, the convention held by Blizzard Entertainment at the Anaheim Convention Center, about the possibility of a film. There were blog posts, speculations on YouTube, and entire forums dedicated to discussing the mere possibility that this would happen. In 2008, with the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, Blizzard’s subscription base hit an all-time high with approximately 12 million players and interest in a movie skyrocketed.

The Lich King will not be the focus of the first Warcraft movie.

The Lich King will not be the focus of the first Warcraft movie.

But time marched on and people’s interests changed. According to a press release from Activision, World of Warcraft is at 5.6 million subscribers as of the end of the second quarter. In a call to investors, Blizzard president Mike Morhaime said the company is focused on increasing the pace of new content to help retain players, and also that he believes next year’s Warcraft movie may help bring in new players. (Kollar, 2015). So instead of the game driving interest in the movie, Morhaime hopes that the movie will invigorate the franchise. However, the movie release date has been pushed back once again. Originally scheduled for a December, 2015, release and then moved to March, 2016, the new release date is now set for June, 2016.

Clancy Brown as the Kurgan from Highlander

Clancy Brown as the Kurgan from Highlander

One bright note for me in the Warcraft movie is the casting of Clancy Brown as Blackhand. I have been a fan of his ever since I saw Highlander. Looking at him as The Kurgan, I think he would be fabulous in Borderlands too.  I wonder if Avi and Ari Arad have any type of a suggestion box?

*I bet you thought I was going to explain the acronyms here. A person reading the column should know what a massively multiplayer online, role-playing, first person shooter game is. In fact, I am sure a lot of my readers Cosplay as characters from these games.  So there is no reason to explain them–not at all.

**These discussions generally occurred in trade chat, which was annoying to many players.  On certain servers in WoW no “exchange of goods or services” took place in the trade chat channel because of the abundance of non-trade conversations.  This occurred despite the fact that Blizzard had set up other channels specifically for “general” chat.  It does make a person wonder about human nature . . .


Kollar, P. (2015). World of Warcraft subscriber numbers hit nine-year low on the eve of a new expansion reveal. Polygon. Retrieved from

Makuch, E. (2015). “In-Your-Face” Borderlands movie in the works at Hunger Games Studio. Retrieved from



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