Given that video game movies have a history of mediocrity, some might not have been too thrilled when Gearbox Software announced a deal to make a Borderlands movie. Now, the developer’s CEO, Randy Pitchford, has spoken up to talk more about why the brand is coming to the big screen.
He tells GI.biz that, while a game like Borderlands is popular and sells well, he worries that the franchise is not reaching its potential as it relates to how many people know about it. The question then becomes, “How do we reach people outside of the folks who we’re already talking to in the video game space?” Pitchford said a Borderlands movie is one way to do that.
He said he’s particularly excited and proud to have Arad Productions producing the film. Father-and-son team Avi and Ari Arad have enjoyed success bringing Marvel comic book franchises such as Spider-Man, Iron Man, and X-Men to film, and Pitchford said he has faith in them to make a Borderlands movie that does right by fans while also expanding the footprint of the franchise.
“I’ll tell you, I trust those guys a lot. Ari and Avi Arad are great,” Pitchford said. “And Ari really wants to be the guy to figure out how to make good video game movies… There are a a lot of guys in video games who feel it’s a big risk to see a film made because so far there haven’t been great examples of great video game films. And fortunately, the Arads figured it out when Avi was doing Marvel and did Spider-Man and Iron Man and X-Men; he figured out how to make comic book movies that are really fun and do right by the franchises that are really engaging and entertaining for large audiences. That gives me a lot of hope that working with them we can figure out a good film.”
The Borderlands movie is in the works at Hunger Games studio Lionsgate. No release date or cast has been announced, but it aims to stay true to the essence of the shoot-and-loot series.
“The Borderlands games don’t pull any punches, and we’ll make the movie with the same in-your-face attitude that has made the series a blockbuster mega-franchise,” Lionsgate co-chairs Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger said as part of the film’s announcement in August 2015.
Pitchford’s comments in the interview suggest he wants to Borderlands movie to reach a wide audience, but this appears to be at odds with his previous statement about how the movie would “probably” be rated R. Mass-market movies are not typically rated R and rarely enjoy the kind of box office success of lower-rated films, Deadpool being one notable recent exception.
Of course, the movie is still a ways out, so it’s possible it won’t end up actually getting an R rating.
Also in the interview, Pitchford made it clear that bringing a video game to the big-screen isn’t the only way to reach a wider audience.
“The film is just one angle,” he said. “So my questions at [a roundtable talk at DICE] were about what other ways can we figure out how to reach people with our video game brands? How do we reach people outside the same group of video game customers that we’re always talking to over and over again? And it’s a tough problem. If we want to reach people around the world or reach people that we’ve never shown the stuff to before, we’ve got to face it.”
Pitchford did not elaborate on what these other audience-expansion angles might be.
Borderlands isn’t the first film to come from a Take-Two property, as the Max Payne series came to the big-screen in 2008 with a movie starring Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis.
As for the Borderlands game franchise, Gearbox is currently working on a third entry in the core Borderlands series, though not much at all is known about this project.