Critics may not have cared for last year’s Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, but that didn’t stop audiences from turning out in droves to see it. After an unremarkable start in the U.S., the film ultimately grossed $335 million worldwide — making it the most commercially successful video game adaptation of all time. That’s the kind of money that’ll put dollar signs in anyone’s eyes.
It makes a great deal of sense, then, that French videogame maker Ubisoft (which published Prince of Persia) has just launched Ubisoft Motion Pictures — a shingle devoted to adapting the company’s games into film and television. Read more after the jump.
According to Variety (via Film School Rejects), the Paris-based division will be headed by Jean-Julien Baronnet, formerly the CEO of Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp. Producer Didier Lupfer will run production and development, while Jean de Rivieres, former head of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures France, will oversee marketing and international sales.
Ubisoft Motion Pictures may be new, but Ubisoft is no stranger to Hollywood. Aside from its experience with Prince of Persia, Ubisoft has also released video games of tons of film and television properties, including those for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Avatar, CSI and Cesar Millan’s The Dog Whisperer. Though the newly minted studio has yet to formally announce any projects, it’s more than likely that adaptations of Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell — two of Ubisoft’s biggest hits — are high on their list of priorities.
Although video games seem like ideal inspiration for Hollywood blockbusters in theory, given that both tend to emphasize slick visuals and thrilling plots, Hollywood has had a notoriously pathetic track record with video game adaptations in practice. Rotten Tomatoes‘ list of Best Video Game Adaptations is topped by Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, which garnered an unimpressive 44%. That’s right: of the 29 that RT pulled up, not a single video game adaptation earned a Fresh rating.
That said, video game movies still seem to be doing fine from a financial standpoint — or at any rate, fine enough that Hollywood producers keep churning them out. The real question is whether Ubisoft Motion Pictures will have any luck on the creative front. There’s no doubt that the new film division is Ubisoft’s attempt to cash in — and who could blame them? — but we’re hoping a studio actually attached to a major publisher will have a more vested interest in putting out a product worthy of the source material and making money at the same time.
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