For decades many Hollywood studios have tried their best in creating successful movies based on video games, from Super Mario Brothers to Street Fighter to the Resident Evil series. The latest movie following this trend, Need for Speed, may very well be in line as another failure in these video game adaptations by finishing third at the box office this weekend.
Over the last few weeks, the Aaron Paul vehicle has been through intense promotion plan with a frequent run of television and online trailers. In addition, the former Breaking Bad star has gone through an extensive promotional tour via the talk show circuit.
Unfortunately for Dreamworks SKG and distributor Buena Vista, they may have another video game adaptation that underperforms. Need for Speed, of course, is based off one of the most popular car racing franchises in video games, and it was expected to lead the box office this past weekend. Instead, it finished third with a $17.8 million hall behind Mr. Peabody & Sherman that earned $21.2 million and 300: Rise of an Empire rang up $19.1 million.
Box office numbers for a brand new release usually finds a 50-60 percent drop in the second weekend for a well received movie. The problem for Need for Speed is aside from its popular star, it has not been given good marks including only a 24 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Failure for video game adaptations are not an uncommon thing though, and Need for Speed proves to be another in a long line of duds. Super Mario Brothers for instance is often cited in many lists of not only being the worst video game movie ever made, but one of the worst movies ever made. There’s a long list of these though including Street Fighter, Silent Hill, Max Payne and the list goes on and on.
Mortal Kombat is the rare exception at least financially. It raked in $70.5 million in 1995, a good number for that era. By comparison, even Tomb Raider with a star such as Angelina Jolie didn’t do very well considering its budget of $115 million, as it only did $131 million, which is a very minor success in the US. Now if we’re not talking financials, both of these movies have been criticized thousands of times over as just being an utter mess.
So, it begs the question: Why do these movies keep getting made? Most likely it is because the studios think that eventually the popularity of these games will seep through to the box office. Unfortunately this has yet to happen. One of these reasons is that the idea is that gamers will come out to see these movies, but the ironic thing is that it is the gamers that are the most fickle of all. They want the movie to be exactly like the game and will nitpick everything from how the character looks on screen to the overall storyline that almost always is drastically different from the video game.
The most telling reason, though, as to why these games don’t do well is they aren’t putting the effort towards them like they do with other Hollywood blockbusters, i.e. the superhero film. Sure, they have semi-expensive action sequences, but anyone can see the effort isn’t there. The idea is that these movies will be a sure win at the box office, but they have not been, yet the studio system continues to try.
Resident Evil has the most movies of any video game adaptation; however, they also haven’t been successful. The first movie in the series made $40 million here with a $33 million budget, Resident Evil: Apocalypse pulled in $51 million with a $45 million budget and the most recent Resident Evil: Retribution had a $42 million haul with a $65 million budget. The point is if these movies make any money at all, it tends to be very minimal. Since this seems to be what happens 95 percent of the time, it’s confusing why this keeps happening.
This latest venture into the game adaptation world will be no different. Need for Speed has a budget of $66 million; considering it just won itself almost $18 million at the box office, it will have a hard time making its money back. Next weekend Divergent and Muppets Most Wanted will be released. As a result, it will be lucky to make $10 million, and it will only go down from there in future weeks.
If there is one thing Hollywood usually knows what to do, it is how to make money. However, their failure in being able to succeed again with yet another video game adaptation like Need for Speed is a huge head scratcher. Either they need to put more effort into the movies themselves or abandon any future ideas of these adaptations.
Opinion by Simon Mounsey