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Hollywood Hopes There's Still Money in Video Game-Themed Movies

Hollywood Hopes There's Still Money in Video Game-Themed Movies

Three years ago, Disney (NYSE: DIS) took a major gamble and poured $200 million into a new movie franchise.

Unlike John Carter, this franchise was not based on a book. Unlike The Lone Ranger, it was not based on an old radio show.

Disney poured its hard-earned money into Prince of Persia, a moderately successful video game franchise from Ubisoft.

While this was not Disney's worst decision, it was far from the best. Prince of Persia earned $90 million locally -- less than half the reported budget.

The film earned $335 million worldwide, but if movie theaters took half of that revenue, Disney would have still been left with an unprofitable film.

Despite these and other box office failures, Hollywood studios are slowly coming back to video games.

This week Sony (NYSE: SNE) confirmed that it is developing a film based on one of its own video game franchises, Gran Turismo. No specifics were revealed, but Mike de Luca and Dana Brunetti (who produced The Social Network and the upcoming Fifty Shades of Grey adaptation) are rumored to be attached to the project.

Gran Turismo was likely inspired by the creation of the Need For Speed movie, which was rumored for years but was not approved until The Fast and the Furious repeatedly reminded Hollywood that car chase and street racing films are popular.

Need For Speed is based on the Electronic Arts (NASDAQ: EA) video game of the same name and will be distributed by Disney's Touchstone Pictures.

Independent filmmakers are in the process of filming a live-action Web series that's based on Capcom's Street Fighter series. The series attracted very little attention on Kickstarter but was ultimately funded by private backers.

Street Fighter is not the only major game property coming to online TV. In May Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) announced that Steven Spielberg will produce a television series based on its Halo franchise. The series is expected to air exclusively on Xbox One.

Related: How Much Would You Pay for an Xbox Tablet that Plays Halo 4 and Gears of War: Judgment?

After being disappointed with Prince of Persia's results, Ubisoft decided to team with a smaller company to produce its next film, Assassin's Creed. Ubisoft intends to maintain creative control over this movie, which is slated for release during the summer of 2015.

While Hollywood has attempted to cash in on video games before, this is the first time that the industry (or at the very least those who make the actual games) seem to be taking these projects seriously.

Sony, for example, plans to produce Gran Turismo through its own movie studio. That could go a long way in improving the quality of the film -- and increase the likelihood that moviegoers won't be disappointed.

Louis Bedigian is the Senior Tech Analyst and Features Writer of Benzinga. You can reach him at 248-636-1322 or louis(at)benzingapro(dot)com. Follow him @LouisBedigianBZ


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