The Assassin’s Creed movie adaptation seems to be having more luck than the Halo film ever did, with Ubisoft finalising a deal with New Regency to fast track the movie into production. But is it too early to start getting our hopes up?
The video games giant Ubisoft formed their own film production division Ubisoft Motion Pictures in 2011, with the intention of making big screen adaptations of their own franchises Assassin’s Creed, Splinter Cell and Ghost Recon. New Regency and Fox have agreed to finance and distribute the Assassin’s Creed film, but with some pretty tight regulations. The agreement has allowed Ubisoft to maintain a huge amount of creative control of the project, including script, casting and directorial decisions. This fierce protection of their multi-million dollar property may be the reason negotiations with Dreamworks and Sony failed to reach anything – it would simply be too much of a gamble for the big movie studios.
However, Ubisoft wanting control over their own project is understandable. Video game movie adaptations have been famously mediocre, with a string of direct-to-DVD atrocities from Uwe Boll springing to mind. Hitman, Max Payne and Prince of Persia, while profitable, attracted a lot of criticism from game fans and cinema-goers alike, and Neill Blomkamp’s Halo film has been in development hell for several years now. Ubisoft seem determined for their property to not suffer the same fate.
With Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class; Prometheus) signed on to co-produce and star as protagonist Desmond (and maybe his ancestors, depending on which direction they take the script), New Regency have a familiar face to work with. He has recently finished production on New Regency’s 12 Years a Slave, directed by Steve McQueen with whom he worked on 2011’s Shame. The attraction of a major player like Fassbender lends even more credibility to the project, and leaves fans hopeful that Assassin’s Creed is in good hands.
While a script for the film is currently being developed, what remains to be seen is how Ubisoft will deal with the plot. With the story weaving between four characters in four different time periods across five games, it will be a tough task condensing it into one movie. It will be interesting to see how the filmmakers juggle the inevitable cries for faithfulness from the fans with their own need for a story to appeal to mainstream audiences. However if the film is successful, it could lead to a very lucrative series and a lot of work for Fassbender and Ubisoft, providing room to expand on the story as they see fit. With Ubisoft in control it is certain they will have the final call on which story elements to include.
Ubisoft are taking all possible steps to protect their franchise. It looks like they are taking a lesson from history by wanting to oversee almost every aspect of the project, but whether that turns out to be a good move or not is yet to be seen. Either way, it seems more likely than ever we’ll get to see Michael Fassbender jumping across rooftops on the big screen.