Hollywood has a checkered history with video game adaptations. But the enormous fan bases that many games enjoy is simply too much potential movie revenue for studios to resist. That is why a movie adaption is in the works for Saints Row, one of the most bonkers gaming franchises ever created. Screenwriter Greg Russo, who also co-wrote the script for the new Mortal Kombat film, is working on the script for Saints Row. In an interview with Collider, Russo stressed the importance of keeping to the tone of the iconic games of the series.
"I think from a storytelling perspective, it was two things. The tricky thing with something like Saints Row is gonna be tone, right away. 'Cause if you know the franchise, you know that it basically had two tones. It has more of the gritty tone, which is the first couple [games], and then it goes kind of bonkers and just absolutely insane. And so, we wanted to make sure that we weren't isolating either of those. So it's about just trying to find the tonal balance where you have real characters, real stakes - again, that was part of it with Mortal Kombat, too. You want it to feel real, you want the characters to feel real, as much as possible."
The Saints Row games started out as one of the many, many GTA clones that keep cropping up in the gaming industry from time to time. Over time, Saints Row learned to separate itself from the pack by including more comedic and satirical elements in the gameplay, where the player can become President, fight off an alien invasion, enter a virtual reality, and terrorize the residents of a sixties suburban neighborhood, all in the same game. According to Greg Russo, it is important to get the right tone when juggling such extreme plot lines.
"You also wanna lean into what made it fun, and lean into that craziness. So part of it was trying to figure out that tone, which I think it's finally gotten into a place where it makes sense. And then it was a matter of, 'What kind of movie is this? Because how do you take an open-world [game] and tell a story?' So I looked at different films that I really love. I'm a big fan of '70s cinema, so I looked at The Warriors, I looked at Escape From New York - just some of those classics. And I said, 'Well, how do we pull from some of those and tell our own unique story?' So I'm excited for it. We'll see."
It would be interesting to see a Saints Row movie along the lines of Escape From New York. Russo added that the project has already found a director, filmmaker F. Gary Gray. So hopefully, the project will end its long stint in development hell soon, and break the curse of successful gaming franchises that fail to transfer that success to the box office. This news originated at Collider.