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Hollywood never ran out of ideas. Original ones perhaps but the studios, be it the major few or the independent labels always have outlets to turn to when it comes to movie scripts. One obvious source - the lucrative video games market.


In 1993, the now defunct Cinergi Pictures and Nintendo came up with a live-action version of the “Super Mario Bros”. The Mario Bros were huge in those days, just try asking anyone around you who were born in the late seventies and eighties. But the movie turns out to be nothing like the video game counterpart. Sets were gloomy, story was dull, a huge difference from the colourful Nintendo graphics even though veterans such as Bob Hoskins and Dennis Hopper tried to live up to the absurdness.

Capcom Entertainment joined in the race with “Street Fighter the Movie” the following year. Street Fighter the video game brought huge profits to the renowned Japanese game developer and characters such as Ryu, Chun-Li, Guile became the idol of many youths worldwide. Writer and Director Steven de Souza attempted the live-action with then leading action man, Jean-Claude Van Damme as Guile. Again it was another huge disappointment to the fans. Ironically, HK director Wong Jing’s own ‘unlicensed’ version of Street Fighter called “Future Cops” had a bigger cult following in Asia with its ensemble cast of A-list HK stars and wild action choreography which fared closer to the video games.


You want more cheese to go with your nachos and game console? There you have it. In 1995, Paul W.S. Anderson brought “Mortal Kombat”, the America’s answer to Street Fighter to the big screen with the help of New Line. Avoiding the mistakes made in SF, Anderson went all out in the martial-arts department with CG enhancement effects. In the end, “Mortal Kombat” made three times the amount in the box-office domestically on a shoestring budget of US$20 million. Two years later however, the sequel “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” bombed spectacularly with only a measly US$51 million combined receipts while the first grossed US$122 million at the end of its run.

Ideas never die and the bunch of valor studio executives and filmmakers revive the crazy wave of video games adaptations in June 2001 with Edios Interactive and Paramount’s “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider”. The English female archaeologist with a svelte figure of a devil played by the now Mrs Pitt aka Angelina Jolie made over US$300 million although panned heavily by critics. A month later, Columbia Pictures ambitiously released the photorealistic (mind you this was way before the release of the much successful “The Polar Express” and “Beowulf”) 3D animated feature, “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within” based on the role-playing games. It bombed big time despite Sony’s aggressive marketing and apparently caused the electronics conglomerate to lose at least US$50 million.


The man who miraculously made a difference in the genre, Mr Paul W.S. Anderson direct and wrote another Capcom based shooter game “Resident Evil” in 2002 with his current beau, model Milla Jovovich as Alice, a heroine who tried to escape an underground science facility which is populated with zombies. Anderson hit the jackpot with box-office of over US$100 million for Screen Gems. Since then it has successfully spawned two sequels “Resident Apocalypse” and “Resident Extinction”. The fourth is supposedly in the pipeline. One must note that all three were made on a relatively low budget as compared to a standard Hollywood production which could skyrocket to as much as US$1oo million (marketing costs including). With an average budget of less than US$50 million each, the RE series easily raked in three times the amount for every sequel. You do the maths.

Continue to Part Two >

By Linus Tee
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