Hollywood insiders have slammed the Ubisoft/Sony Pictures Assassin's Creed movie deal as "ridiculous".
No studio, no director, nobody has ever demanded the amount of control that Ubisoft has, movie site Vulture reported.
"As a director, even Steven Spielberg cannot get this kind of deal," said one insider.
Sony Pictures apparently capitulated to Ubisoft having approval over nearly ever aspect of the film: principal casting, budget, script and release date.
"The whole Ubisoft/Sony deal is a waste of ink, paper and time," declared an unnamed Hollywood talent agency. "The level of control Sony gave up means, effectively, that Assassin's Creed will never - and I mean never - get made."
Movie studios DreamWorks, Universal and Warner Bros. all reportedly turned down the project due to this issue of control.
One unnamed studio chief, who dropped out of the bidding, said: "They want to be able to pull the plug on the whole movie's development if they decide to. It's ridiculous."
Ubisoft wishes were granted because the publisher promised to spend "a great deal" of money making the film, a source close to the deal revealed. Sony Pictures will invest "only a fraction of what a studio typically would", the source said.
"It's [Ubisoft's] billion-dollar brand, so I get that they're protective," said another studio exec once in the running for the Assassin's Creed project.
"But they're not moviemakers, and the only way to make sure it's a bad movie is to undervalue what movie studios do - and this is a deal that totally undervalues what movie studios do."
Ubisoft's insistence on control can be traced back to last year's Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time film, Vulture learned. That movie bombed, Ubisoft believes, because it didn't have enough control.
All of which leaves a Catch-22 situation for games becoming films. In order for the movies to work, the studios making them need creative control. But to relinquish that control, video game publishers need proof that studios can make good game-films. With only the Tomb Raider films resembling such success, confidence understandably runs low.
"It begs the question," concluded one studio chief: "If they're so afraid of what will happen to their franchises, why make a movie at all?"