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Resi film director speaks out

On why his job is so hard.

British director Paul W.S. Anderson, the man who brought us the Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil movies, has declared that it's no easy task to put games on the big screen - since gamers are a seriously demanding lot.

Speaking at the Hollywood and Games Summit, Anderson began by explaining how he first got into games: "As a nerdy young boy growing up in the north of England, I often contemplated the nerdy future ahead of me. Playing Dungeons & Dragons, the inevitable sexual frustrations afterward, and then playing more Dungeons & Dragons." (Anderson was once engaged to Resi star Milla Jovovich, by the way, so don't feel too sorry for him.)

"In the 1980s, I took shelter from a rainstorm in an arcade in London," Anderson continued.

"There, I saw a dozen boys gathered around what looked like a black monolith out of 2001. That game was Space Invaders. And on that rainy night, I played so long that I had to walk home in the rain because I spent my bus fare playing that game."

So what's a Hollywood director who likes his games to do but start making films based around them? Which is what Anderson did, of course, though it hasn't been an easy path.

"Clearly, it's a minefield. And it's a minefield as a film-maker you'd better learn to navigate," he said.

"If you stray too far from the source material you're doomed, but if you stay entirely true, you're equally doomed."

And that's not your only problem - there's the challenge of working out how to appeal to your target audience. Take Mortal Kombat, Anderson explained: "If it was to be a successful movie, it had to be PG-13 or the kids who actually played the game could not come and see it. Or worse, they would buy a ticket for another movie and sneak in."

Mortal Kombat ended up with a PG rating, of course, much to the displeasure of some fans. "Were there a few complaints that we didn't rip Liu King's heart out then pulped it in front of his eyes? Sure!"

So how do you make a good game movie? Well, "Sometimes you have to break the rules," Anderson reckons, "But in order to break the rules, you have to learn them.

"You have to develop a true love of the IP. You have to love it as much, or even more, than its most hardcore fan base, because really, only when you have that knowledge and you're equipped to not only satisfy the fanbase, but also broaden it to a wider non-videogame playing audience, can you have a successful movie."

It also helps "When the games themselves are cinematically influenced", according to Anderson - hence Resident Evil is Sony's second most profitable franchise after Spider-Man, while the 1993 Super Mario Bros. movie failed to perform at the box office.

"I believe that some games weren't meant to be movies," Anderson concluded.

"Movies about plumbers are a genre that has passed us by."

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About the Author
Ellie Gibson avatar

Ellie Gibson


Ellie spent nearly a decade working at Eurogamer, specialising in hard-hitting executive interviews and nob jokes. These days she does a comedy show and podcast. She pops back now and again to write the odd article and steal our biscuits.

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