Video Game to a Movie – Game time to Showtime.

How many times have gamers wished Hollywood would make a movie of their favorite video games? I know I have. Making a video game to a movie doesn’t always work. I will address the problems with the transition from video game to a movie later.

It was so cool to watch “Callum ”Cal” Lynch morph into Aguilar de Nerha as thes badass assassin hero in “Assassin’s Creed”. I have most of the “Assassin’s Creed” video games. When the movie “Assassin’s Creed” hit the big screen, this was a must-see for me. I love the Assassin’s Creed” gaming franchise.assassin creed movie

Also, watching the characters of “Warcraft” come to life in a movie was amazing. I loved the film. Even though I have never played the online game, it sparked my interest to check the game out in the future. There must be a reason it is one of the most popular internet games in the world and I want to find out why after watching the movie.

The “Pokémon” series took both the movie and video game industry by storm. Millions have played and watched these adorable creatures from the world of “Pokémon”. They are so cute.

I loved the movie, “Pixels” starring Adam Sandler and Kevin James. It is based on some all-time classic arcade games from my youth. Seeing “Pac-Man”, “Donkey Kong”, “Space Invaders”, and my favorite, “Galaga” on the big screen was a lot of fun.

Please join me on a journey from a video game to a movie – Game time to Showtime.

Sounds like a good idea, but does it work:

There have been about 35 major Hollywood live-action movies based on video games. They very rarely rate higher than 50% on the “Rotten Tomatoes” review list.

“Big screen video game adaptations have had perhaps the most checkered box office past of any genre, and there has yet to be a consistent string of hits to qualify it as a true blockbuster genre,” says Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore.

Few have had box office success on the big screen as “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” and The Angry Birds Movie. “Tomb Raider” starring Angelina Jolie was one of the most successful video game to a movie attempt in the US. But there have been numerous big-budget flops. “Super Mario Bros” produced in 1993 was a major disappointment.angry-birds-movie

Most studios clearly feel that the international box office returns are enough to justify the investment. The 2016 adaption of “World of Warcraft” wasn’t a big hit in the US, but in China, it grossed over $430 million. So, studios keep hoping for that breakout blockbuster video movie in the US.

Problems with adaption from video game to a movie:

Creating a storyline from a video game into a 2-hour movie can be difficult. Good video game tales can rival any film story created for TV or the theater, but they don’t seem to adapt well to a movie.

The problem is that the strengths of video game narratives – control, choice, immersion in the point of view of the character you play – do not translate well to film. Instead, video game adaptations tend to get caught up in tedious backstory.

It is impossible to stuff hours of the game into a 120-minute film. Some games have 100s of hours of gameplay.

“The kinds of games people want to put on film are often not very good examples of stories that have dramatic tension,” says Cara Ellison, a video game narrative designer who has also written for TV and comics. “A good film script is concise, and big games stories are not”.

“The issue with adapting video games for films is that there’s a lot of well-known gameplay features that just don’t translate into film-making,” says Lauren O’Callaghan, entertainment editor at video game and entertainment site Gamesradar.

“Playing a video game and watching a movie are different experiences,” says O’Callaghan. One requires an active role while the other is passive.

Introducing key elements of a video game may be recognized by game players, but regular moviegoers would not get the connection. For example, the recurring flying eagle (a symbol in the game’s mythology) in “Assassin’s Creed” would make sense to gamers, but a traditional moviegoer would think it is too random.eagle-movie-two

“Most video game movie scripts try to find a balance for people who know the game and people who don’t know the game. Filmmakers get trapped trying to please both but miss the mark on for both audiences”, says O’Callaghan.

The storyline can’t veer off too much for gamers, but it must attract people who don’t play the game. If this is not done it creates dissatisfaction for both gamers and moviegoers and at best a mediocre movie.

Another issue is video game movies can be too much action-based and not enough story. The main characters lack personalities. People at the movies want to be drawn into the story. We want to feel the experience of the journey while we escape our daily lives for a couple of hours. This is what makes movies so appealing.

My resources:

How can the problem be fixed?

  • First: Do not try to adapt the stories from the games, and if you do, be loose with the treatment. The stories in video games tend to be simply because it is the gameplay. That is the focus of video games, not the story. Two of the highest-rated video game movies are “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within” and “The Angry Birds Movie”. What is interesting about these two movies, they have little resemblance to the games on which they were based. “The Spirits Within” was a completely original story in the “Final Fantasy” universe with characters who have never appeared in the games, and “Angry Birds” was based on a smartphone app. So, a certain amount of creative license is expected when adapting video games to film. Video game films need to have more freedom to explore the inner lives of the characters and the vastness of a fictional universe. The “Star Wars” movies are not all based on Luke Skywalker. There are endless stories within the “Star Wars Universe”.
  • Second: Don’t constrain the main character to the traits and personalities in the video game. Enhance the hero with new dimensions and remove unlikable qualities. Make the video game character into a movie character like Indiana Jones or Luke Skywalker.
  • Third: Make redesigns if necessary and possible. For example, in the recently released “Sonic the Hedgehog”. In the game, his eyes looked like a windshield. Making his eyes like Mickey Mouse’s would be more appealing to moviegoers.
  • Finally, don’t hire writers and directors to make the movie if they do not have a clear vision for what it should be. The thought and effort should be the same that went into making “The Godfather” or “Legends of the Fall”. All movies need heart, an interesting concept, characters who remind us of ourselves, and a central reason for existing. Video game movies are no exception to these core facts of movie-making. It can be done, but it needs to be done right.godfather movie

Twenty best movies based on video games ranked:

  • 20. “Super Mario Bros. (1993) Worldwide box office: $35,378,316. Even though this was not a hit, it is still a must-see for anybody who has played any of the Mario video games.
  • 19. “Street Fighter” (1994) Worldwide box office: $99,423,521. This movie has one of my favorite martial artists of all-time, Jean Claude Van Damme. Boy, can he fight.
  • 18. “Doom” (2005) Worldwide box office: $55,987,321. The game is scary, and the movie is too.
  • 17. “Max Payne” (2008) Worldwide box office: $85,416,905. The game is spooky and about vengeance, a good combo for a movie.
  • 16. “Wing Commander” (1999) Worldwide box office: $11,578,059. Not a big hit. The idea of flying spaceships is a fun idea though.
  • 15. “Warcraft” (2016) Worldwide box office: $439,048,914. It may not have been a blockbuster in the US, but it made a lot of money, especially in China.
  • 14. “Bloodrayne”(2005) Worldwide box office: $3,650,275. A game and a movie about sexy vampires didn’t quite make it.
  • 13. “Assassin’s Creed” (2016) Worldwide box office: $240,558,621. This game franchise is one of the best I have ever played. I liked the movie too.
  • 12. “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” (2010) Worldwide box office: $336,365,676. I enjoyed the movie very much. The Prince was the Ninja warrior of the desert.
  • 11. “Ace Attorney” (2012) Worldwide box office: Yen 540,000,000. The games are a staple on Nintendo systems and have Japanese subtitles.
  • 10. “Far Cry” (2008) Worldwide box office: $743,634. The movie is like an Indiana Jones adventure. Far Cry games are fun to play.rampage-movie
  • 9. “Rampage” (2018) Worldwide box office: $428,028,233. “Do you smell what the Rock is cooking”. Well, Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson cooked up some awesome action-packed adventure in this movie. I love it. He also starred in “Doom”.
  • 8. “Silent Hill” (2006) Worldwide box office: $97,607,453. If you watch the movie or play the game in the dark late at night be prepared to be frightened to the bone.
  • 7. “Hitman” (2007) Worldwide box office: $101,276,318. Who knew sneaking around as a trained assassin could be fun, watching it, and playing it?
  • 6. “Mortal Kombat” (1995) Worldwide box office: $122,195,920. Awesome fight scenes in the movie and the game.
  • 5. “Need for Speed” (2014) Worldwide box office: $203,277,636. It is always an adrenal rush in car racing for me. The movie and game both deliver.
  • 4. “Tron” (1982) Worldwide box office: $50,000,000. Tron” is the video game movie equivalent of the chicken and the egg dilemma. It’s a movie based on a game that only existed in the movie until the movie came out, at which point the game was created.
  • 3. “Final Fantasy: Kingsglaive” (2016) Worldwide box office: $6,550,000. There are several Final Fantasy” movies and games, but this one takes top honor by telling the important backstory and superb voice acting talent.
  • 2. “Resident Evil” (2002) Worldwide box office: $102, 984,862. There are several other Resident Evil movies as well like Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Extinction, Afterlife, Retribution, and The Final Chapter”. The total gross worldwide for all the movies was $1,233,229,454. That is over a billion dollars with a B. Wow, no wonder they kept making them. Plus, the movies are good. My wife enjoyed them as well.
  • 1. “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” (2001) Worldwide box office: $274,703,340. The ultimate female warrior. The movie was great, and the games are a blast to play. Angeline Jolie was made for this and she even looked like the game character.tomb-raider-movie

This list is not comprehensive and it is not based on just box office receipts. You can see a complete list at, I have provided a link below for the list I used ranked by Maxim magazine.

Well, there you have it. My adventure in researching a video game to movie. I hope you will enjoy it and maybe learn something along the way.

I had a lot of fun putting this post together. I also have a post “How video are games created. It must Magic”. I think you would enjoy it. It is very interesting to see everything that goes into creating a video game from start to finish. I have also created links to each movie in the list. You can watch a short clip on each one. They are provided by

I realize taking a video game and creating a good movie has its challenges. Most of the time it doesn’t work, I get there are flaws in the process. But I hope studios don’t stop trying to fine-tune the difficulties in making the transition from video game to the big screen.

Playing video games and movie watching are some of our best forms of entertainment. That will never change. I hope gamers will enjoy video game-based movies without being too critical because the movie is not exactly like the game. Also, I hope moviegoers won’t dismiss a movie because it is based on a video game.

Maybe one day the movie and video game industry will find the right balance to satisfy both gamers and moviegoers. We can hope.

As always, my fellow gamers, you know my motto, “Let’s Game”. But when you put the controller down, “Let’s Go to the Movies”.people-at-the-movie-1

Thank you for reading my post. If you have any comments or thoughts, I would deeply appreciate them. Just contact me at my email link below.

johnny, the Grey Wolf, Watcher of the Woods.

20 thoughts on “Video Game to a Movie – Game time to Showtime.

  1. I liked your statement which I believe its true that playing video games and watching a movie are different because the other one is active while the other is passive.  

    I  always tell my son that watching movies for long works against his mind development because its passive. Do you think playing video games in this context can address my concern. I have also noted the list of recommended movies produced from video games, can you recommend the ones we can watch with the kids 

    Thank you for this interesting read  

    • Hi Bogadi,

      Thank you for your thoughts and comments. Video games can be more active than just watching a movie, but kids still need to get out and play in the fresh air and sunshine. There should always be a balance.

      There are some options for gamers to be more active than just sitting down and pushing buttons on a controller. You can play video games with your whole body. With Xbox Kinect, PlayStation Eye, and Nintendo Switch your son can be more interactive with the game features. The Nintendo Switch is more family-friendly.  The new virtual reality games are even more intense because you are in the game itself.

      I have another post about video games used in education. Here is the link to it. I think your son and you might enjoy this post. 

      I think films like Super Mario Bros, The Angry  Birds Movie 1 and 2, Ratchet and Clank, Sonic the Hedgehog, and any of the Pokemon movies would be family appropriate for your son.  

      I hope this information helps you make a more informed choice for your son. Also, don’t hesitate to play some video games with him. He will love it if you take the time to play with him. 

      I hope your son and you are well, Bogadi. 

      Let’s Game. 

      Thanks, johnny, the Grey Wolf, Watcher of the Woods. 

  2. Until I read your post I wasn’t really aware of the connection between blockbuster movies and the games, although I did try the game for the movie Avatar. I was very disappointed, as I wanted to be able to fly the dragon and do stuff and the game was very limited in its actions. This really put me off and I haven’t been back. I did want to create a showjumping or racing game years ago but there didn’t seem to be a market. I might have a look again and see what is around. Girls love horses and we don’t necessarily want to be killing stuff!

    • Hi Lily,

      I appreciate your comments. I understand your frustration. Going from a movie to a video game or a video game to a movie can be very disappointing.

      So, you want to ride on the back of a dragon. Sounds like a great idea to me. I love dragons and movies about dragons. Some of my favorite dragon movies are the Dragon heart movies, but there aren’t any games based on these films.

      There is one video game based on a movie where you can fly on the back of a dragon. Here is the Wikipedia link to get more info on it. I have it and it is a lot of fun to play. We also have all the How to Train your Dragon movies. Check it out.

      As far as riding horses, I found this link for you.

      This may have something you might enjoy without all the killing.

      I hope this has been helpful. Thank you so much for stopping by, Lily.

      Let’s Game.

      johnny, the Grey Wolf, Watcher of the Woods.

  3. Hello there!

    That was quite interesting. I really always wish some hollywood movies i wash could be transformed into games but those wishes never come true for many movies. I guess this is because its not easy as you mentioned in the article. The suggestions provided as to how this problem can be fixed is quite impressive, I hope it really works. Will be looking out for the best movies provided there ranked with their games, i hope i enjoy them as you have highly ranked them.


    • Hi Kingsking,

      I appreciate your thoughts and comments. I am glad you enjoyed the post. I wish more movies would be transformed into video games as well.

      I planned on doing a post based on movies, TV shows, and comic books becoming video games. I am excited about doing this future post. We will see where it leads. I hope you will check it out when I get it posted.

      Thank you for your interest, my friend, Kingsking. Just curious, what movies would you like to see become a video game?

      Johnny, the Grey Wolf, Watcher of the Woods.

  4. Hello there, it’s really nice to see your articles and I feel really about what I have you have here And its really nice indeed. I really may lots of game and the music for or is some big deal so hope.some u get the chance to give out music for various game, it will he great to do it you ask me 

    • Hi Justin,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment on my post. I am glad you enjoyed it.

      I think that is a great idea about a post that deals with the music put to video games. I believe that would be remarkably interesting. I may do that in the future. Thanks for that though.

      Stay well and safe my friend, Justin,

      Let’s Game.

      johnny, the Grey Wolf, Watcher of the Woods.

  5. Thanks so much for sharing a beautiful, informative article with us. The principal element of this article is about Video Game to a Movie. It’s really amazing that you covered this subject so well in your post. I have learned a lot from reading your post and gained a lot of knowledge about it. I like Hitman of the points mentioned in your article. I used to watch Hollywood movies a lot. Among these movies, Hitman is one of my most popular movies. I enjoyed watching its video games later and enjoyed it.

    • Hi Md. Asraful Islam,

      Thank you for your thoughts and comments. I am so glad you enjoyed the post. I was hoping readers would get some information that they didn’t know before reading the post.

      I am a big fan of stealth assassin games and movies. I love playing the Hitman games. I also like the Sniper games. It is so cool to play the silent assassin.

      I appreciate you stopping by Md. Asraful Islam.  

      Let’s Game.

      johnny, the Grey Wolf, Watcher of the Woods.

  6. Wow, I had no idea there were so many movies that originated from video games and you said this isn’t a comprehensive list! I have not seen one single movie on the list so of course this article was an eye opener for me. My son is really into video games so I think I should know more about the movies and games. I think it’s good that you are trying to bring people together via video games because most of the time parents and grandparents just think kids are wasting time and don’t really show an interest which really isn’t fair, in my opinion.

    • Hi Alison,

      I appreciate your comments and the time you spent responding to this post. I glad you like the idea of bringing people through a video game or a movie.

      To be honest, kids can waste a lot of time playing video games. But adults can waste a lot of time on their hobbies as well. I think if more parents and grandparents showed more interest in what their kids enjoy, then maybe kids will take more of an interest in what their parents and grandparents enjoy. There needs to be a give and take between both sides.

      I believe a lot of parents and grandparents would be surprised by the fun they can have with their kids by playing a video game together. I bet the kids would love it too. It sure doesn’t hurt to try. I know I love playing video games with my granddaughter.

      What kind of video games and movies does your son enjoy?

      Thanks for stopping by, Alison.

      Let’s Game.

      johnny, the Grey Wolf, Watcher of the Woods.

  7. This was a great read. You may need to be the one to produce and or direct these video games into movies cause you have some awesome insight and terrific ideas as to what not to do when trying to convert a video game to a movie.

    I’m an old school gamer so I know about Galaga, Donkey Kong, Pac-man and more. Now, what I didn’t know about was the movie Pixels. I’m gonna have to watch that one. I love Adam Sandler and Kevin James.

    If I could pick a video game to turn into a movie… There’s 2 I would nominate. Call of Duty and The Conduit. I don’t believe these two are made into movies. However, I could be wrong tho. I enjoyed this article.

    • Hi Sj,

      How are you doing? Thank you for your comments. I am so glad you enjoyed the post. To be honest, I am not a director or producer. I am a writer. That is my gift from God. So, I write about things that are interesting to me.

      You will love the Pixels movie. It will bring back a lot of memories of your youth. I know it did for me. I am a big fan of Adam Sandler and Kevin James too (I still watch reruns of the King of Queens).

      I agree I would love to see a movie based on the Call of Duty games. I love playing those, but I am not really good at playing them.

      But if I could pick one, it would be Horizon: Zero Dawn. It is set in a primitive tribal world where strange, monstrous, animalistic machines roam the wilderness and a brave young female warrior named Aloy goes on a quest to learn the truth about her mysterious origin. I would love to see a movie about this. I know the game is awesome. I think it has won over a 100 E3 awards and nominations.

      I appreciate your thoughts Sj.

      Let’s Game.

      johnny, the Grey Wolf, Watcher of the Woods.

  8. I can imagine why it is difficult to turn video games into movies. Although they provide great storylines, it is indeed very different to squeeze possibly 100 hours of games into a 90 minute-movie. You have to come up with a great plot, make the audience connect with your character, and still stay true to the game, since gamers will watch this movie as well as people who never played the game. 

    I did not even know that Resident Evil was based on a video game, haha, spot the non-gamer here 😉 They were good movies, though, and Sigourney Weaver was amazing in them. I haven’t seen Lara Croft, Tombraider yet, but it is on my list. I heard it’s a good movie, and Angelina Jolie is a great actress. I’ve seen most of her films.

    Is there one game that you think would make an excellent movie or that would provide good material for a movie?

    • Hi Christine,

      Thank you for your thoughts and comments. I agree some video games have storylines that would rival any Oscar-winning movies. I know because I have played games that good.

      If I am mistaken, I don’t think Sigourney Weaver was in the Resident Evil movies. She did star in the Aliens movies which I love. Those aliens’ creatures are as scary as hell.

      The actress who starred in the Resident Evil movies is Milla Jovovich. She did an awesome job. My wife, Cindy, liked them as well and she is not into these kinds of movies.

      You will enjoy Lara Croft: Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie. She even looks like the game character. The 2018 version is good too. It stars Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft. It is very action-packed.

      But if I could pick one video game I would like to see made into a movie, it would be Horizon: Zero Dawn. It is set in a primitive tribal world where strange, monstrous, animalistic machines roam the wilderness and a brave young female warrior named Aloy goes on a quest to learn the truth about her mysterious origin. The storyline is great, and the visuals are amazing. It is fun to play a female warrior.

      Again, I thank you for your comments, Christine.

      Let’s Game.

      johnny, the Grey Wolf, Watcher of the Woods.

  9. Very interesting article here.

    Immersion is what I’m always after and unfortunately like you said, movies don’t translate that well. But asides that, the Tomb raider games from 2013 have been awesome, storytelling and action have been exceptional.

    Also, there’s the movie Bandersnatch on Netflix. It’s like a choose your own adventure game. It’s incredibly meta and I advice anyone interested  in video games and movies to check it out.

    I myself never saw the assassin’s creed movies. Just had a bad feeling about it. Do you think I should check it out?

    • Hi Dami,

      Thank you for your comments. I am glad you find the post interesting. That was what I was hoping for readers.

      I agree the Tomb Raider games are a blast to play. They not only challenge our reflects, but they also challenge our minds with the puzzle features. They take us on the adventure with Lara Croft.

      Thanks for the tip on the Bandersnatch. I will check it out.

      The only Assassin’s Creed movie is the one that came out in 2016. It is worth watching, but for me, it is not as good as playing the video game. So, keep that in mind.

      I appreciate your thoughts, Dami.

      Let’s Game.

      johnny, the Grey Wolf, Watcher of the Woods.

  10. Your post really remind me of the Jumanji movie, where you are the part of the video game. You are right that there is a problem with adoption from video game to a movie. To play the games based on the best Hollywood movies would be really really big step forward if this problem could be solved as you suggested. Thanks for the Twenty best movies, still a few I haven’t seen:-)

    • Hi Ola Bee,

      I appreciate your comments. I see your point about the Jumanji movie. That is a great example of being part of the video game itself.

      The twenty best lists are not comprehensive, but if you would like to check out a larger list you can go to this link. video list_of_fEnter Textilms_based_on_video_games

      Thanks for stopping by, Ola Bee.

      Let’s Game.

      johnny, the Grey Wolf, Watcher of the Woods.

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