Eli Roth has signed on to direct a film adaptation of the video game Borderlands for Lionsgate. The project has actually been in the works since 2015 when the studio attached producers Avi and Ari Arad to the project. Craig Mazin, who recently won an Emmy for his work on the TV series Chernobyl, has written the latest draft of the script.
Borderlands, the game, launched in 2009. It’s a role-playing first-person shooter game set on the frontier of a sci-fi universe — the planet of Pandora, which might have to be changed for the film considering its similarities to Avatar — which has been abandoned by a mega-corporation prior to the game events. The series has sold more than 57 million units worldwide.
“I’m so excited to dive into the world of Borderlands and I could not be doing it with a better script, producing team, and studio”, Roth said in a statement. “Everything in my directing career has led to a project of this scale and ambition. I look forward to bringing my own energy, ideas, and vision to the wild, fun, and endlessly creative world of the game”.
As is mentioned every time a new video game adaptation is in the works, films based on video games have a patchy history. They’ve usually failed when the studio has tried to mutate the source material into something else. Anytime a game has been moulded into, say, a generic action film, the movie has failed.
But in recent years, studios have perhaps realised the value of staying truer to the source material. Films like Pokémon Detective Pikachu, despite being an adaptation of a little known Pokémon game, didn’t try to force a circle into a square and was all the better for it.
The point is, for Borderlands to succeed, Roth and co. probably need to stick with what makes the games so good. Studios have figured out that if they can just pull in the hardcore fans of the games, that would probably amount to a tidy profit itself. So instead of trying to hit every demographic, why not just aim for a few?
Roth is a good pick for a project like this. He’s always worn the fact that he’s a fan of so many properties on his sleeve. The quality of his films vary but he’ll bring a distinct passion to Borderlands that fans of the game will likely appreciate.