Way back in April 2004, director John Woo signed on to make a movie based on the popular Nintendo video game Metroid. Eight years later, we haven't heard anything about the adaptation, although now producer Brad Foxhoven has shed some light on what happened to this video game movie. Here's what the producer had to say about the lengthy three-year development process.
""We believed there was a great opportunity for John Woo to bring his style of action into a Metroid film. Nintendo was quite supportive of the idea, as they were all fans of John's previous films. We knew that a lot of the Metroid mythology had many similarities to other well-known science fiction franchises, so we had to try and propose some fresh ideas that Nintendo would approve. We also knew that the characters were originally developed many years ago, when game systems were limited in their graphics and animation. These same designs needed to be updated, particularly when seen as a live-action representation."
The producer and president/co-founder of Tiger Hill also revealed that Nintendo was overly cautious about turning more of their video games into movies, after the colossal failure of Super Mario Bros. in 1993.
"Nintendo was definitely discouraged by it, but felt that with John they would be in better hands. The challenge for us was that it felt that the biggest lesson Nintendo learned from Mario was to hold onto their rights even tighter, limiting collaboration when it came to translating Metroid to the big screen. Our entire development time was spent exploring the Metroid world, and what we could - and couldn't - do within it."
David Greenwalt (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Grimm) was one of the plethora of writers who were brought on to craft this tale centering on the game's heroine, Samus Aran. The movie would have given fans an origin story that explored her life before the events in the video game. However, Nintendo didn't seem to agree with these aspects of the story.
"We wanted to see her struggle, to be humbled, and to be forced to rise up against crazy odds. And of course we wanted to see the cool weapons in all of their glory. Things started to go south when we tried to dig into the character a bit more. As you know, any film needs a deeper story arc than what is told in the game, where we learn about the characters and their world. What are they doing when they are NOT fighting? What is their daily existence and relationships? What are Samus's aspirations, history, and fears? Nintendo appreciated the questions, but had never thought about them before, and ultimately didn't have a lot of answers. In the end, they felt uncomfortable with our team being the ones to propose those answers."
The project fell apart back in 2007, with John Woo and the rest of his team moving on to other projects. Although no studio has expressed an interest in the project since then, Brad Foxhoven remains optimistic that Metroid will find a studio home, some day.
"I know for Nintendo, they walked away appreciating the process and how much further they needed to explore the franchise so that it has a chance for a feature film at some point. I still believe there is a chance. There are quite a few Hollywood executives in town who grew up playing Metroid, and who would be willing to take the time needed to bring Nintendo along in the process."