I’ve given Hasbro and the studios a lot of shit for the baffling wave of optioned board games that have been put into development, as it has reeked of creative bankruptcy and cynical cash-grabbing. Even James Cameron, the shameless big-budget showman that he is, dove into the conversation and lambasted Battleship specifically. Now it seems Atari can be added to the list of companies with a stable of non-narrative properties to sell to an apparently eager Hollywood, with the 20th Century Fox licensing of Missile Command being their latest and greatest deal. Despite these acquisitions boiling down to one studio or another buying the use of a fucking logo , there have already been deals made with Atari for Asteroids and Rollercoaster Tycoon by Universal and Sony respectively.
There aren’t many other details from the deal, and while Missile Command scribes-to-be Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless have penned a remake of Flash Gordon and Dracula Year Zero (Universal’s odd, long-gestating look into the figure that inspired Bram Stoker), they haven’t yet had a film they’ve written released yet.
Patton Oswalt recently penned a story in Wired decrying the death of geekery, suggesting that to escape today’s mutated amalgamation of pop culture and otaku we have to embrace the concept and allow it to burn itself out. I believe a similar principle is applicable to the “story crisis” in Hollywood. It’s obvious we’ve lost the battle of “voting with our ticket purchases” as even the most inane crap the studios shovel out will sell tickets and DVDs to eventually break even.
To defeat this, I have a vision*.
“In far off times they refer to it as the Brand-Convulsion Scenario, a time when these plotless trademarks gave birth to films that the public supported in an unprecedented scale. What began with Battleship and Missile Command, continued with Connect Four and Pong. Eventually an implied narrative was no longer required at all and the release and record-breaking success of Coke Zero: The Movie and Geico VS. Progressive forced Hollywood into a brand-singularity of sorts, where the system was suddenly retooled to quite literally create nothing but movies based on logos. Then we stopped going. All at once the audiences pulled back, like the merciless tide retreating into the sea, and the theaters found themselves empty and without a soul to buy a ticket for MacBook 2: An Apple A Day, much less buy $10 popcorn. Our ruthless plot was revealed. While the one-sheets for Built Ford Tough faded in their lightboxes, Hollywood found itself unable to sustain itself and it crumbled- the smoldering ruins providing a fitting gravestone for a place that had long since lost the drive to tell a story worth telling.”
Maybe a bit dramatic. Perhaps we’ll get lucky and “the missile command movie” could turn out to be as good of an action movie as “the facebook movie” was a drama. Or maybe a couple of these movies will fail and the studios will cut the shit. Who knows? More than likely a little bit of all of it will come true and the lots of big dumb will continue to coexist with the occasional small smart, and even more rare huge brilliant. With the world such as it is, the revolutionary spirit is probably better served aimed at something other than studios’ silly video and board game films anyway.
*Not sure why Missile Command, of all things, set this off.
Source | Variety