Multiple decades of failed video-game-to-movie adaptations aren't deterring Sony from trying to finally, at long last, get it right. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Sony launched its own production studio, which it's calling PlayStation Productions, to dive into its nearly quarter-century-old catalog of games for the purpose of turning them into TV shows and films. THR adds that the enterprise is already up and running, and that the studio is working on its first set of projects at Sony's lot in Culver City, California.
"We’ve got 25 years of game development experience and that’s created 25 years of great games, franchises and stories," said chairman of Worldwide Studios at Sony Interactive Entertainment Shawn Layden. "We feel that now is a good time to look at other media opportunities across streaming or film or television to give our worlds life in another spectrum."
The company boasts more than 100 of its own properties, and has dabbled in genres from sci-fi, horror, car combat, you name it. One would think that, if it chose wisely, there's some real potential here, especially since video games and the resulting audiences are supposed to be their forte. That's not lost on Sony.
"Instead of licensing our IP out to studios, we felt the better approach was for us to develop and produce for ourselves," said Playstation Productions head Asad Qizilbash. "One, because we’re more familiar, but also because we know what the PlayStation community loves."
Sony will also have an advantage in the sense that it's already established sister company, Sony Pictures, will help with distribution and that PlayStation Productions will handle production without having to license that out.
"For the last year and half, two years, we’ve spent time trying to understand the industry, talking to writers, directors, producers," said Qizilbash. "We talked to [film producer] Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Kevin Feige to really get an understanding of the industry."
Layden adds that the company is inspired by Marvel's transition from comic books to the big screen, though he hedged a bit by (fairly) saying that "it would be a lofty goal to say we’re following in their footsteps." Layden stated that the Hollywood landscape has transformed in recent years, and that current filmmakers came up in an era where gaming was mainstream, which makes this the perfect time to attempt such an ambitious undertaking.
"You can see just by watching older video game adaptations that the screenwriter or director didn’t understand that world or the gaming thing," Layden says. "The real challenge is, how do you take 80 hours of gameplay and make it into a movie? The answer is, you don’t. What you do is you take that ethos you write from there specifically for the film audience. You don’t try to retell the game in a movie."
Layden also stated that movies/TV shows will give fans a place to turn to after they've come down from beating a title that they waited years for, and reality sets in that there are now several more years to wait for the sequel.
"We want to create an opportunity for fans of our games to have more touch points with our franchises," he said. "When fans beat a 40-50 hour game and have to wait three-four years for a sequel, we want to give them places they can go and still have more of that experience and see the characters they love evolve in different ways."
As for what titles will be films, and what titles will be TV shows, that's still to be determined based upon what would be most appropriate for the intellectual property. The company also won't rush its scripted projects to screens big or small, and will give each of them the time it takes to live up to the source material.
"We created this entity to manage and control the process of getting the right director, the right actors, the right screenwriter," says Qizilbash.
More details about this development are likely to be revealed on Tuesday at the Collision Conference in Toronto.