Movies based on video games are not as popular as one might think, which is odd considering how much money movies based on novels and comic books make. In all honesty, video games are far more popular among the young than the other genres. But still these movies don’t garner that much money. Perhaps it’s because video game movies don’t garner as big of a budget, or as much media attention. It might also be because critics universally hate any video game movies, while audiences are not that receptive either. It’s always hard to please critics, as it is their job to be, well, critical. But why don’t fans like the movies? Is it possible that the plots in video games don’t translate well into movies? Maybe it’s funner to just play a mindless video game whose premises are far removed from real life. Forcing the same person to watch the same menial plot might just become like a chore. People who don’t play video games or aren’t into comics either seem to prefer the comic book genre type movie. One thing is for sure, if someone actually made a movie based on a video game that people liked, the earning potential is endless. The list is based on those films whose origins are from a video game and nothing else.
14. Max Payne – Released: October 17, 2008- Box Office Gross Worldwide: $85,416,905
The video game was released in 2001 to rave reviews from PC Gamers. It centers around Max Payne, a New York City undercover cop whose wife and kids are murdered and somehow becomes framed for a heinous crime. The goal is to clear Max of all crimes and to get sweet revenge on everyone. Reviewers loved it claiming that it was much different from other shooting games and far superior. With a star studded cast including Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis, the movie did okay, but very few liked the over styled plot-less film, not even the fans. Its Rotten Tomatoes score: a mere 16%. Its production budget: $35 million.
13. Silent Hill – Released: April 21,2006- Box Office Gross Worldwide: $97,607,453
Silent Hill is the horror game created in 1999 by Konami, as a competitor to the much lauded Resident Evil franchise. It starts out with a father and daughter getting separated by a car accident. The goal is to find the daughter and to figure out what the heck is going on in this creepy Midwestern town. In the movie, it’s the mother that loses the daughter in the horrific mid western town of Silent-Hill, as she goes there to find a cure for her mentally disturbed daughter. Like many video game movies, the film was plagued by bad dialogue and a plot that went nowhere. Its Rotten Tomatoes score: 29%, with an audience score of 63%. Its production budget: A pretty hefty $50 million for a movie with no big name stars.
12. Street Fighter – Released: December 23, 1994- Box Office Gross Worldwide: $99,423,521
Yes graphics were once this bad. Of course, Street Fighter was an arcade hit that later became available for home gaming units when it came out in 1987. The goal of the game was simply to fight some opponents using a combination of martial arts and special powers like fireballs and flash kicks. Eventually you travel all over the world trying to beat the scissor kicking all legged fighter from China, “Chun-Li”, the sumo wrestler from Japan, ‘Honda” and then eventually landing in Thailand to defeat the big guns. The game did introduce the necessity of the six button gaming pad. The movie starred action king Jean Claude Van Damme as Colonel Guile who tries to take down the evil dictator M.Bison, releasing the hostages he has taken in the process. Another movie rocked for a lack of a story, it nevertheless had enough action to make it a good straight to TV classic instead of a Hollywood movie. Its Rotten Tomatoes score: a miserable 12% with a 20% audience score. Its production budget: $35 million.
11. Hitman – Released: November 21, 2007- Box Office Gross Worldwide: $99,965,792
A video game first released in 2000, Hitman the video game follows the exploits of super killer Agent 47, a cloned hit man for hire, whose greatness at his job places him in high demand for the rich. A bit like in Bourne Identity, his creators set out to kill him. In later releases he tries to change his ways, but like The Godfather, just as he thought he was out, he gets pulled back in. The movie known for its excessive violence strays from the video game as it has Agent 47 avoiding both Interpol and the Russian military. The mysterious and emotionally complex character came out as a boring, one dimensional killer in the movie as critics gave it a 12% Rotten Tomatoes Score. Fans wavered a little bit, giving it a 57% audience score. Its production budget: A measly $24 million.
10. Resident Evil – Released: March 15, 2002- Box Office Gross Worldwide: $102,441,078
The ultimate horror flick where you kill zombies (way before they became ultra cool) came out on Sony PlayStation in 1996. It follows the exploits of Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine, as members of the S.T.A.R.S elite task force. As they investigate the disappearance of their comrades they instead end up in a haunted mansion. This was the start of an ultra successful video game series that made its creators Capcom, extremely rich. The movie was a little different as it followed agents Alice (Milla Jovovich) and Rain (Michelle Rodriguez), as they battled an out of control, self aware super computer and a slew of scientists-turned zombies. Its Rotten Tomatoes score: a paltry 33% as critics complained it was cheesy. It did receive a favorable 68% audience score, partially due to its sexy cast and nonstop gore. Obviously the movie had enough rapport with fans to span multiple sequels, each bigger than its predecessor, a truly irregular industry trend. Its production budget: $35 million.
9. Mortal Kombat – Released: August 18, 1995- Box Office Gross Worldwide: $122,195,920
The game that took over Street Fighter’s crown in the martial arts competition landscape in 1992, it one upped its predecessor with excessive gore most notably with its fatalities. This game has spawned multiple sequels both in video games, comic books and TV. The movie followed action movie star Johnny Cage, the beautiful Sonya Blade, and the vengeful hero Liu Kang, as they face off against a terrifying group of alien martial artists. The visually spectacular battle scenes made it a very successful movie for its time. True to video game form, the movie ends with the ultimate fatality. Its Rotten Tomatoes score: a measly 33%. By now it’s apparent that critics hate video game movies. Audiences were mixed as well, as the film received a 58% audience score. Its production budget: a pretty small $18 million. I guess the actors were probably not well paid.
8. Resident Evil: Apocalypse – Released: September 10, 2004- Box Office Gross Worldwide: $129,394,835
Although not necessarily following an actual video game title, the movie instead borrows themes from four different Resident Evil video games. The first movie, although not a blockbuster, must have been successful enough for its creators to believe that a market still existed for its franchise. They were right. The plot follows the main protagonists Alice and Matt Addison, who were contaminated in the first film but survived. The Umbrella Corporation is sent back to the hive where the zombies from the first flick are held, and then stupidly releases them into the public, contaminating Raccoon City. Of course the city becomes zombie infested and it’s up to S.T.A.R.S to stop the spread of zombies. The flick attracted a similar 61% audience score, while gaining an even more dismal 21% Rotten Tomatoes score. The production budget increased to $45 million for this film.
7. Resident Evil: Extinction – Released: September 21, 2007- Box Office Gross Worldwide: $147,717,833
In this flick, proving that people love zombies no matter what the plot, the zombie virus infects the world including animals but somehow it does not reach Alaska. The main protagonists (including Alice) try to head up there, but the Umbrella Corporation has different plans as they need Alice because of her ability to be infected with the T-Virus and not suffer a zombie mutation. The plot does become a lot more complex and a lot more interesting throughout the film. The plot development was not enough to appease critics with a 22% Rotten Tomatoes score, but audiences still liked it to the tune of a 58% audience score. Its budget was a reasonable $45 million.
6. Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life – Released: July 25, 2003- Box Office Gross Worldwide: $156,505,388
The sequel to the original Lara Croft Tomb Raider movie found further down on the list, this movie doesn’t necessarily take its cue from a particular Tomb Raider video game, but combines elements of many. The video game was first released in 1996, and was made notable for placing a female in the titular role. It centers around a female adventurer who goes around the world searching for ancient relics. Sounds a lot like another famous character played by Harrison Ford. The movie stars the ever popular Angelina Jolie with Gerard Butler in a supporting role, and is centered around the Greek island of Santorini, where an orb is stolen by a Chinese crime lord which guides people to finding Pandora’s box, the item that in Greek mythology releases evil into the world. Its Rotten Tomatoes score: a mere 22% despite most critic’s admiration of Jolie’s performance. Its audience score was 45%. Despite a whopping budget of $95 million (an amount a little less than the original), it earned only about half of what the original made.
5. Need for Speed Released: March 14, 2014- Box Office Gross Worldwide: $203,277,636
The car racing game first released in 1997, where cars race on the streets eluding traffic and cops, has remained popular even today, having become the most popular racing franchise ever. A similar premise to the subsequent Fast and Furious movies, it did adopt the car customizing made popular in these films. The film released last year starring a perfect actor for the role, Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul, made decent money. It centered around Tobey Marshall, a former race car driver, who starts street racing in order to make ends meet. Tobey and his partner little Pete, make some money by partnering with a wealthy former rival in order to complete the construction of a rare Ford Shelby Mustang worked on by the late Carroll Shelby, which they sell for millions. The wealthy partner kills little Pete in a race, runs off leaving Tobey to take the blame. Tobey seeks revenge upon release by racing his friend’s killer. Tobey ends up showing mercy by saving his friend’s killer after forcing him to crash in the race. We wonder if the subsequent releases will be as successful as the similar Fast and Furious franchise, because you know they’re coming. Its Rotten Tomatoes score: 22%. Audiences were more receptive with an audience score of 57%. The film made a good profit with a budget of $66 million, fairly low for a modern action flick.
4. Resident Evil: Retribution – Released: September 14th, 2012- Box Office Gross Worldwide: $240,159,255
What more can be said about Resident Evil that hasn’t already been said. A third of the movies on this list come from this successful franchise, showing that there are enough zombies in this world to keep its main character Alice, busy forever, and fans coming in increasing numbers. This was the last such movie made, and was a little less successful than its predecessor at the box office. Its Rotten Tomatoes score: a pretty impressive (for a video game) 31%, quite high for a movie on this list. It has an audience score of 52%, high enough to make hundreds of millions of dollars on a budget of only $65 million.
3. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – Released: June 15, 2001- Box Office Worldwide: $274,703,340
I am sure if inflation were accounted for, this might be number one on this list, and up until this decade was the most profitable video game movie by far. This is the movie that increased the allure of the video game genre to Hollywood execs, and it more closely resembles the video game than others on this list. Not loved by critics despite starring Angelina Jolie and her real life father, it received a Rotten Tomatoes score of 19%. Audiences only liked it to the tune of 48%, but it still made loads of money on a huge budget of $115 million.
2. Resident Evil: Afterlife – Released: September 10, 2010- Box Office Worldwide: $296,221,663
The year 2010 was the golden year for video game movies, as both of the top spots were from movies released that year. By far the most successful of the Resident Evil movies, the fourth entry in the series was hated by critics and fans alike, with a score of 23% and 49% respectively. It still made boat loads of money though, on a budget of $60 million. We can probably expect many more to come.
1. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time – Released: May 28, 2010- Box Office Worldwide: $335,154,643
Probably the most successful non-web based fantasy video game in history, it had humble beginnings in 1989 as a video game for Apple II. In a quarter of a century it evolved from graphics even cheesier than Street Fighter, into what you see above. The original premise is based around the evil wizard Jaffar, who seizes power and jails the princess and her lover, the nameless Prince of Persia. The purpose of the game is to guide the unknown hero through the palace dungeons, rescue the princess and overthrow the evil wizard. The movie had a similar pretext, and not only had pretty good success for a video game movie, it had excellent success for a movie, set in ancient times. Created with a massive budget of $200 million, it could only muster a Rotten Tomatoes score of 38% (still the highest on the list) and an audience score of 58%. Imagine how much a video game movie could make if people actually liked it.