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From Console to Cinema

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Universal Pictures

From the likes of Super Mario Bros, Uncharted, Sonic, Angry Birds, Street Fighter and the most recent Five Nights at Freddy’s, adapt- ing video games into cinema is not a new idea. Moving beloved video game franchises to the cinema excites fans, as they get to witness characters that they have played make it to the big screen. 

From previous years, dating back to the 1990s, video games adapted into movies or TV shows have had a bad run. The very first one to ever make it to theaters was Super Mario Bros (1993), which failed to make a great entrance. Street Fighter (1994) serves as another prime example of a poorly made adaptation. The movie adaptation, while succeeding in capturing the crazy aspects of the original video game, fails to maintain a consistent plot line and falls short in its story. It received an audience rating of 20%, the lowest audience score of the other more successful adaptations. The sci-fi and horror movie Doom (2005) adaptation from the game franchise failed to emulate what made the video game so special. The movie’s bland dialogue and failure to stick to its source material made it a flop. 

Although Street Fighter and Doom may have failed at the box office, they’re not proof that movies based on video games are destined for failure. The latest installment in the world of video games-to-movies is the new Five Nights at Freddy’s movie. The horror game franchise first introduced in 2014 has continued to gain a massive following of all ages, publishing a total of 13 games over the past decade. In the game, players play as a night guard who patrols the Freddy Fazbear Pizzeria for 5 nights. The pizzeria’s animatronic mascot characters come alive at night and attempt to kill the night guard throughout the night. If the player is not careful of where the animatronics are, it could cost them their life: a game over. 

The new movie took audiences by storm by staying true to the beloved video game. It featured terrifying jumpscares, well-paced suspense, immersive environments, and memorable characters. Seeing the well-known faces of the Freddy Fazbear crew come to life in a mystery narrative of missing children keeps the elements of horror and mystery in the air, leaving viewers at the edge of their seats and anticipating the next scare. 

The movie even proved successful at the box office. Five Nights at Freddy’s broke records by becoming the production company Blumhouse’s largest opening movie. The movie went on to become the second largest opening for video game adaptations, only second to The Super Mario Bros., and the largest horror opening of 2023, taking place for The Nun 2. The film has grossed a total of $286 million worldwide as of when this story went to print. This is not the only movie that has proven to be a hit amongst audiences. Detective Pikachu, the 2019 Pokemon adaptation based on the spin-off game, received a boom of approval from fans with $450 million at the global box office. Audiences were happy with the plot and characters that kept the natural charm and wistfulness that made people fall in love with the original game. 

Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) grossed $320 million worldwide, signifying a commercial success given its $85 million budget. The beloved blue hedgehog on the big screen amazed audiences with its animation quality. Their previous concerns about the movie — mostly consisting of worries that it won’t stick with the source material — were proven wrong, as the movie was faithful to the original adventurous retro video game. Game adaptations have also succeeded in TV format, most notably The Last of Us (2023). Based on the 2013 game in which main characters Joel and Ellie struggle through a zombie apocalypse, the story is sure to strike heartstrings as audiences connect with the two protagonists and their budding friendship. The TV show adaptation takes the game’s emotions to the next level, accentuating the already devastating scenes of the video game. 

These video game adaptations into cinema have much to offer, paving the way for game fanatics and movie enjoyers to experience new stories without having to buy a video game console for hundreds of dollars. They also introduce entirely fresh audiences to decade-old game franchises in a new format. With the recent success of movies based on this medium, we can expect to see more like them come to fruition.

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About the Contributor
India Quan-Kep, Staff Writer
My name is India Quan-Kep and I am a 12th grader. I enjoy cinema and am planning to study film when I go to college! My favorite hobbies are playing video games and watching shows while sometimes reading.
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