EXCLUSIVE: It's hardly an understatement that movies based on video games have had a shaky time out in the marketplace.
Now a new one is having a hard time getting out of the gate.
"Kane & Lynch" seemed like a slam dunk by film-development standards. But uncertainty is mounting for the project.
Based on the popular third-person multi-platform shooter from Eidos Interactive, the movie sported a commercial premise, telling the story of two death row inmates who break out of jail and embark on a big bank job. The project had also attracted the attention of a number of buzzed-about directors. A second "Kane & Lynch" video game had studios seeing franchise.
And, not insignificantly, Bruce Willis and Jamie Foxx were on board for the title roles.
The movie from Avi Lerner's Nu Image/Millennium and Lionsgate (the former is financing, the latter distributing domestically), seemed all ready to start shooting next month, with French up-and-comer Patrick Alessandrin (District 13: Ultimatum") preparing to direct.
But the latest turn has Alessandrin has fallen off the film, according to several sources familiar with the project, forcing producers to go back to the drawing board. "Running Scared" helmer Wayne Kramer and "Italian Job" director F. Gary Gray, who at various points were in talks to take the directing reins, are now back in the mix. Producers are also talking to Antoine Fuqua, who collaborated with Millennium on the crime drama "Brooklyn's Finest." But no deal has been struck.
Maybe most important, a planned start date for October has been pushed. The movie is not likely to start production until the first quarter of 2011 at the earliest.
Officials at Lionsgate and Millennium could not immediately be reached for comment. [Update, Saturday 4:24 p.m.: A Millennium spokeswoman says that "the director has not been chosen" and that a "start date is TBD."
Some Hollywood executives continue to maintain that video games are a fertile source of development. After all, most games have brand recognition and a dramatic arc, two coveted traits for any film project. (Indeed, the "Resident Evil" and "Lara Croft" franchises have demonstrated the axiom. The former has shown surprising box office life with its latest installment, which is headed for a $200 million take internationally.)
But the difficulties in translating a story form one medium to another has more often than not proved difficult. It's why movies such as "Prince of Persia" and "Max Payne" have been misses with both fans and a broader audience.
Things may yet turn around. But “Kane & Lynch” is the latest piece of evidence that it probably won’t happen quickly or cleanly.
--Steven Zeitchik and Ben Fritz
Photo: Kane & Lynch. Credit: Eidos Interactive
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