On the heels of the box-office success of The LEGO Movie, Deadline reports that Warner Bros. is developing the popular game Minecraft for the big screen. In fact, Roy Lee, the producer behind The LEGO Movie, will be handling the property for the studio. With Lee on board, it would seem a Minecraft movie would be an inevitable success, but I have a couple of reservations.
According to the report, the movie is to be a “live-action” adaptation of the open world-type game. Much like LEGO, I feel the blockiness of the characters and world is an inherent part of Minecraft’s appeal and identity. Wouldn’t that, at least in part, be stripped away in a live-action movie? That isn’t to say that some director out there won’t have some unique vision of how to do it, but it seems like something that could alienate the built-in audience. Part of the appeal of The LEGO Movie is how thoroughly the filmmakers embraced the physicality of that universe.
Video game movies have a pretty shaky history. Compared to blocks of LEGO, which are ingrained into the childhood memory of almost everyone born since they were introduced in the late 1950s, Minecraft is still relatively new. The beta version of the game was first introduced in 2009 before its proper 2011 release. I know studios like to strike while the iron is hot, and with the game’s over 100 million users it certainly is “hot.” But even successful movies based on (at the time) current and popular video games — like Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time or Lara Croft: Tomb Raider — only took in a fraction of the box-office receipts Wreck-it Ralph did. And that movie was based on a FAKE game with only nods to old school video games. I think they might be overlooking the fact that the nostalgia connected with these properties was a large factor of their success.
I know people are still bummed that there hasn’t been a Halo movie yet, but part of me is glad there isn’t. When it finally does come out, it can be done right, and there will be generations of fans hungry for it. I don’t think that type of awareness or timelessness is there for Minecraft… yet.