"Dead Island" was one of the most exciting trailers to hit the Web last year, and it wasn't even for a movie -- it was for a video game. Now it looks like that will change.
Lionsgate announced Tuesday morning that it has acquired the film rights to the zombie title and will begin developing it as a feature. There are no writers yet on what is essentially a film in very early development, but producer Sean Daniel ("The Mummy"), who was reportedly involved with a "Dead Island" movie project early on, will produce it, Lionsgate said.
When the trailer hit last February, reports that Daniel had come on board were dismissed by the publisher, as several of the parties affiliated with the game appeared to be in disagreement about who had the right to negotiate on the property's behalf.
Published by Deep Silver, the game was little known at the time the trailer hit, and in fact didn't even have a release date. But in the wake of the viral sensation, "Dead Island" landed a date, coming out to mostly positive reviews earlier this month, although some fans said it didn't live up to the promise of the trailer.
When it hit the Web, the trailer for the first-person action title nearly sparked a riot. Essentially a short film in all but name, it took a melancholy piano score and ran it under a battle between a family on vacation and the zombies who have taken over their resort. The piece had a sharp visual style, a heartbreaking moment and a devilish structure, all of which had fans calling for a film.
Lionsgate on Tuesday said in a statement that the movie will be "an innovation of the zombie genre because of its focus on human emotion, family ties and non-linear storytelling. "
There's still a big question, of course, as to of whether a three-minute trailer can be stretched to a 90-minute movie and still retain the spare power of the trailer. And we won't even get into the issue of how you then cut a trailer for that film that stacks up to the original spot.
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: A shot from Dead Island. Credit: Deep Silver