So much for art imitating life - motion pictures based on digital diversions are now the latest rage among the red carpet crowd. Assuming the fad continues at its current rate, soon shrek won't be the only cg-animated star hogging the spotlight.
"Games have been hot for a minute now," says actress Michelle Rodriguez. "It's hard to believe it's taken such a long time for the concept to sink in, but Hollywood is finally getting it." She should know - it was her turn alongside Milla Jovovich in 2002's Resident Evil, a successful feature film based on the blockbuster survival horror series, that paved the way for proper cinematic spinoffs. no longer content with churning out forgettable flicks like Super Mario Bros. or Street Fighter, studio execs are currently investing heavily in pixilated properties.
As proof, see director Uwe Boll's recent efforts, House of the Dead and Alone in the Dark. Cory Yuen, who oversaw the transporter, intends to follow suit, bringing audiences the martial arts epic dead or alive in 2006. Legendary filmmaker John Woo - who's teamed with sega to start game development outfit Tiger Hill - is also enthusiastic about the trend, having optioned rights for a metroid movie. And Rodriguez herself will once again grace the silver screen shortly, courtesy of virtual vampire saga Bloodrayne.
The extrasIt's no secret: DVD is the hottest thing to happen to home video since the advent of the VCR. but it wasn't until computer and video game publishers started producing enhanced renditions of titles featuring similar special features (behind-the-scenes footage, picture galleries, director commentary) that the reach of the medium's influence was truly understood.
"It's the same principle as with films; provide the consumer with more value in terms of content and packaging," admits IDC analyst Schelley Olhava. "I have friends who specifically went out and bought the upgraded version of Halo 2 just because they had to have it."
Now a common fixture on the software scene, smash hits such as Doom III, Half-Life 2, and World of Warcraft are all offered in optional collector's editions. It's a win-win situation for everyone - game enthusiasts appreciate the gesture, and publishers reap higher profit margins. Retailers couldn't be happier, too: Madden NFL 2005's premium pack - which includes fully playable past series installments and a bonus trivia game - sold out in three weeks flat.
Admittedly, the strategy of charging $59 or more and offering extra content only works for the biggest brands. but it can vault an established franchise's sales into the stratosphere. Proof lies in the Mortal Kombat: Deception Kollector's edition, which accounts for almost a quarter of the game's million-plus turnover.
Besides, as Steve Allison, chief marketing officer for Midway and the man responsible for the packaging, admits, “face it, these titles are a great way to offset rising development costs.”