Assassin's Creed Is the Batman Begins of Video Game Movies
Video game adaptations have always struggled at the box office, a point which can be proven by the dreadful box office performance of Hitman: Agent 47, which has only taken in $22.4 million since opening in late August. There has only been one video game adaptation to earn more than $100 million domestically, 2001's Lara Croft: Tomb Raider ($131.1 million), but Ubisoft has high hopes of turning the genre around with Assassin's Creed, set to hit theaters on December 21, 2016. With production already under way, Ubisoft Motion Pictures president Jean-Julien Baronnet revealed in a new interview with Premiere that star Michael Fassbender signed on very quickly, while comparing the project to both Batman Begins and Blade Runner.
"[Michael Fassbender] accepted very quickly. And he was the only actor which we thought was obvious. So we started with the actor, which is incongruous. Even more incongruous, he engaged us with nothing. There was no script, no studio or anything. We told him we were going to build the project together, we have a huge brand and we want to make a make a film with references to feature films like Batman Begins and Blade Runner. That is why we tend to. He was promised that he could work with the writers, we would associate it with all key creative choices."
Assassin's Creed recently started production in Malta, with Michael Fassbender portraying two distinct roles, Callum Lynch and his 15th Century descendant Aguilar. The story follows Callum, who descends from a mysterious secret society, the Assassins, and amasses incredible knowledge and skills to take on the oppressive and powerful Templar organization in the present day. Jean-Julien Baronnet revealed that Ubisoft has a deal with Tom Hardy, who will be heavily involved in the development of Splinter Cell, similar to how Michael Fassbender helped develop Assassin's Creed.
"This is obviously attractive for intelligent players like Michael Fassbender and Tom Hardy. It is like a huge studio because it has huge brand, but it is a small structure. And it will remain like that, you do not want to become bigger. Tom Hardy was also evident on Splinter Cell. We had the same discussion and it is also committed immediately. Tom is a gamer and he loves the world of Splinter Cell. We worked a lot with him on the character."
Instead of just licensing its games to movie studios, Ubisoft developed their own in-house motion picture company to develop adaptations of their games, taking control over the development process. The company has teamed up with New Regency for both Assassin's Creed and Splinter Cell. Jean-Julien Baronnet spoke about their development process, which took four years for Assassin's Creed.
"Our approach is to remain in control of the development, so to finance it 100%. We choose writers who are not necessarily stars but people who have understood the universe. And as long as the script is not level, it will not launch. It has also worked very closely with New Regency for Assassin's Creed. We needed them for their expertise. There was a kind of triptych between the actor, the studio and us. It is the combination of the three who built this scenario. With arbitration returning us as we fund. The beauty of being a small structure is that no contingencies that lead us to release films in greenlighter quickly. It leaves time to time to arrive at what it takes. Four years of development for Assassin!"
The Assassin's Creed supporting cast includes Ariane Labed, Michael K. Williams, Carlos Bardem (Escobar: Paradise Lost) and Denis Menochet. Justin Kurzel is directing from an adapted screenplay by Scott Frank, Michael Leslie, Bill Collage and Adam Cooper. Are you surprised that Jean-Julien Baronnet compared Assassin's Creed to Batman Begins and Blade Runner? Let us know what you think below, and stay tuned for more on Assassin's Creed.