Last month it was reported that Fox was close to penning a deal with Atari for the feature rights to the classic 1980's arcade title, Missile Command. Not to be outdone, Warner Bros. is looking to get their hands on a vertical shooter of their own, negotiating to acquire the feature rights to an even older game, Space Invaders.
The move should come as no surprise. Last summer, the studio bought Midway, the game's U.S. publisher. But its Taito, the Japanese company that originally manufactured the game, who controls the theatrical rights to the landmark shooter.
If the rights issues are hammered out, the project would bring on Hollywood big guns with a flare for both the commercial and Oscar-worthy, with Mark Gordon (Saving Private Ryan, The Day After Tomorrow), Jason Blum (The Reader, Paranormal Activity) and Guymon Casady (The Expendables) serving as producers.
Here's a little description of the game, and the game play, for those of you who grew up in a cave:
Space Invaders, the 1978 Japanese-created arcade title that helped start it all, is a two-dimensional fixed shooter game in which the player controls a laser cannon by moving it horizontally across the bottom of the screen and firing at descending aliens.
The aim is to defeat five rows of eleven aliens—some versions feature different numbers—that move horizontally back and forth across the screen as they advance towards the bottom of the screen. The player defeats an alien, and earns points, by shooting it with the laser cannon. As more aliens are defeated, the aliens' movement and the game's music both speed up. Defeating the aliens brings another wave that is more difficult; a cycle which can continue indefinitely.
These old games were inspired in part by Star Wars and other great sci-fi movies of their generation, so in turn, can these give birth to great sci-fi movies? That really just depends on the writers and directors they bring in. If studios are finding ways to turn inanimate objects like the ViewMaster into potential franchises, than surely they can make arcade games with some kind of objective into action packed movies. As with any of these games being turned into movies, like Universal's Asteroids adaptation, there really isn't a story to follow, so they as long as some sci-fi element is used, then they can just slap a recognizable name on it and call it a day.
What's funny about the potential battle between Fox's Missile Command and Warners' Space Invaders, is that Fox has an unrelated sci-fi comedy called Space Invaders already in the works, with Tropic Thunder screen-writer Justin Theroux re-writing the latest draft. We'll see how these video game and toy-based movies turn out, as long as there's not a movie about Pogs being made, I guess things aren't that bad.