J.J. Abrams and Gabe Newell to Develop ‘Portal’ and ‘Half-Life’ Films; Is Something Bigger Than Mere Movies in Mind?
Posted on Wednesday, February 6th, 2013 by Russ Fischer
While Star Wars continues to dominate much of the conversation about big-ticket sci-fi film, the outcome of the DICE keynote talk between filmmaker J.J. Abrams and game-master Gabe Newell of Valve Software was even more stunning: the two are likely to collaborate to make games and movies. The stated movie interests are adaptations of popular Valve games Portal and Half-Life.
“We’re making a Half-Life movie” is not quite what they said, but the door was certainly left open to Bad Robot and Valve collaborating on projects. And reading between the lines and taking a few other tips into account, it seems that one film is all but certain.
After the break, we’ll give you the proper quotes from the creative pair, and start to figure out just what they’re planning. Are the two hatching a scheme for something bigger than a simple game to film adaptation? I wonder if the very long-awaited conclusion of the Half-Life game series might take on a new sort of life thanks to this deal.
Newell: What we are actually doing here, we are recapitulating a series of conversations going on. We reached the point that we decided to do more than talk.
Abrams: There’s an idea we have for a game that we’d like to work with Valve on.
Newell: We’re super excited about that and we’re going to figure out if we can make a Portal movie or Half-Life movie together.
Both Abrams and Newell are nothing if not careful about what they say in public, and this conversation was explicitly described as a way to bring their private talks public. Prior to the quotes above, which came right at the end of their talk, Abrams and Newell had talked about the narrative possibilities in both games and movies, and the ways in which each media can be used to push an audience towards the end of a story.
Other hints we’ve been given today point to real action being taken on the development of a film involving Bad Robot and Valve. Given the simplicity of the material, I’d bet on Portal being the object of that effort.
Given the cautious ways both men have with revealing things to the public, there’s clearly something happening here. The revelation is a big deal, because Valve has resisted Hollywood’s efforts to capitalize on the popularity of its game lineup. In 2010, Newell proclaimed that any adaptation of a Valve property would be done by the studio itself. Those facts, taken with the conversation that highlighted many strengths of games and film, and the ways that each has influenced the other, leads me to wonder if there’s something bigger brewing than just a Portal movie.