At the beginning of 2016, many fans thought this would finally be the year when a major Hollywood studio cracked the code on video game adaptations. After all, we had two high-profile releases scheduled, but after the critical lambasting Legendary Pictures took on Warcraft – not to mention the film’s disappointing performance at the domestic box office – it seems that all hopes are now riding on Assassin’s Creed.
Produced by Michael Fassbender (who also stars in the film), Assassin’s Creed takes the basic premise of the popular franchise – new technology allows a man to access “genetic memories” and relive the experiences of his ancestor, who was part of a secret society of freedom fighters - and crafts an original story that promises to feature plenty of the fast-paced action that helped the series become Ubisoft’s best-selling property of all time.
But despite the impressive sales figures that Assassin’s Creed has generated since the first installment was released in 2007, Ubisoft’s European boss Alain Corre doesn’t seem too keen on the film’s box office prospects, telling MCV:
“We are not going to earn a lot of money from it. It is a lot more a marketing thing, it is also good for the image of the brand. Although we will make some money, it is not the purpose of this movie. The purpose is to bring Assassin’s Creed to more people. We have our core fans, but what we would like is to put this franchise in front of a lot more people who, maybe, will then pick up future Assassin’s Creed games.”
I think I understand what Corre is trying to say here, but he’s not going being very eloquent. Filmmaking is an expensive endeavor, and even though Ubisoft as its own motion picture division, they’re still going to be partnering up with Hollywood Studios to get their projects off the ground. By the time you factor in the cost of producing a major tentpole like Assassin’s Creed - not to mention the exorbitant amount that will likely be spent to market the film – and then split the box office returns between the various studios and production companies, Ubisoft won’t be pocketing much in the way of profit.
So contrary to what some other outlets are reporting, I don’t think Corre is trying to give the impression that Assassin’s Creed is a bad film. In fact, Ubisoft reached out to MCV with to clarify Corre’s remarks with a follow-up statement:
“Ubisoft’s core vision is to create top quality entertainment and experiences. For the Assassin’s Creed film, we have worked closely with our partners at New Regency and 20th Century Fox as well as the talented cast and production team from the very beginning to ensure we deliver a quality experience to ours fans. We strongly believe the Assassin’s Creed brand has this cross-over appeal that will please both video games fans and movie goers.”
Whether or not Assassin’s Creed can break the curse of video game adaptations by generating strong box office numbers and a favorable response from critics remains to be seen – but opening closely on the heels of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is likely to diminish the film’s chances, especially considering how dominant The Force Awakens was during the same time frame last year.
Personally, I would like to see the studio open the film a few weeks earlier, before we return to a galaxy far, far away, but as of now Assassin’s Creed is scheduled to hit theaters on December 21.
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