Sci-Fi and Fantasy Movies Based on Video Games – How Popular Are They?

Most films based on video games have the potential to become popular and successful at the box office. As video games became more and more popular, there came the idea of adapting them into the big screen, complete with a concrete (and mostly slightly differentiated) plot.

These film adaptations are aimed at pleasing fans of video games as well as movie buffs. No matter how many missteps they’ve thrown out, or how many critics are nit-picking at most of them, Hollywood will probably never stop producing these video-game based movies. As long as there are video games and sci-fi/fantasy fanatics, this film genre will always be here to stay. So why should film studios stop themselves from producing them?

Even if some of the works here are the worst video-game-based movies they’ve ever done in terms of the storyline and the treatment of characters, they do bring astronomically huge returns at the box-office.

Here are some of the best-known examples of movies that have been adapted from video games:

1. Mortal Kombat films

These series of films were based from the popular Mortal Kombat arcade video game franchise. There have been two film adaptations so far Mortal Kombat (1995), and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997). Neither of the films was pre-screened for the critics; despite that, both films received mixed to negative critical summations. Even fans of the video game gave scathing “thumbs-down” to both films.

The first Mortal Kombat film became a financial success, bringing in over $122 million worldwide. However, the second movie performed so-so at the box office. At least in the first Mortal Kombat film, director Paul W.S. Anderson did his best to keep with the game’s story about a group of martial arts masters. These characters were faced to fight an intergalactic tournament in a bid to save the Earthrealm.

2. Tomb Raider films

So far there have been two films that have been adapted from the popular video game series Tomb Raider. These works are centered on the thrilling, pulsating adventures and exploits of the beautiful and intelligent archaeologist Lara Croft. Her character is touted as the “Most Successful Human Virtual Game Heroine.” Many gamers have enjoyed playing the different iterations of Tomb Raider, with the graphics becoming more enhanced thanks to advancements in technology.

The two films are called Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) and the 2003 sequel Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. Both of these movies starred Hollywood A-lister Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft.

The first Tomb Raider film received disappointing critical reviews but nevertheless grossed over $274 million. Surprisingly, the sequel found more favor with the critics. It still earned “only” about $156 million, paling in comparison to the first Tomb Raider film.

3. Resident Evil films

Six live Resident Evil action films based on the popular and successful horror fiction video game series have been produced and shown as of yet. These are Resident Evil (2002), Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004), Resident Evil: Extinction (2007), Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010), Resident Evil: Retribution (2012) and Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016).

Four of the films were directed by Paul W. S. Anderson who also directed other sci-fi/action films like Mortal Kombat. All of these films were box office successes, with the latest one being the highest-grossing one, having earned over $312 million at the box office. As with most video games adapted into films, all of the Resident Evil films didn’t fare quite well with the critics. Most of the reviews and criticisms about these movies cited predictability, although some do mention that there are still some very scary scenes.

4. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Many of us remember playing Prince of Persia from a very young age. It’s hence not surprising that filmmakers decided to turn this into an action-packed movie. However, the angle of the movie is not that serious, so one can watch it for a decent dose of comedy as well as thrill and nostalgia.

Film critics have a consensus when reviewing this film adaptation of the popular video game franchise, which is it’s an okay and enjoyable swashbuckling film. In fact, it is quite entertaining and doesn’t take itself quite seriously. At the very least, it manages to bring a message to the audiences about what makes the video games so fun. Released in 2010, this Jerry Bruckheimer-produced film grossed around $334 million worldwide. Considering its quite large budget (about $150-$200 million) though, the movie just earned decent profits, not huge ones.

5. Street Fighter films

There have been a lot of film adaptations based on the popular Capcom fighting video game. The first live-action feature film, also titled Street Fighter, was released in 1994. It was loosely based on that video game because the producers almost radically altered the game’s plot.

Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, this film received mostly negative reviews but was still a box office success. The second live-action feature film, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, was released in 2009. It followed the story of the Street Fighter character Chun-Li and her quest for justice. Although the film was not pre-screened for critics, it nevertheless received mostly negative reviews. These focused mainly on the film’s poor dialogue and unconvincing fight scenes. It performed poorly at the box office considering its big budget.

Because of the sheer popularity of the Street Fighter video games, there have also been animated film and TV series adaptations based on these them. These come from Japan for the most part.

6. Warcraft

Warcraft, also dubbed Warcraft: The Beginning was released in 2016 and based on the Warcraft series. It falls in the genre of action fantasy and was directed by Duncan Jones. The writers here were Charles Leavitt and Jones, while the starring actors included Ben Foster, Toby Kebbell, Clancy Brown, Daniel Wu, Robert Kazinsky, Travis Fimmel, Dominic Cooper, and Paula Patton.

This film mostly revolves around encounters between human and orc characters, with the locations also based on the original video game. Unfortunately, the work wasn’t too well received at the box office, with both the script and the production gathering mostly negative reviews. However, it did gross about $433 worldwide, which is more than the Prince of Persia film ever did.

7. Silent Hill: Revelation

Many horror movie buffs have enjoyed the Silent Hill movies, but they might not be aware that this one is based on the Konami horror video game by the name of Silent Hill 3. Sean Bean, Kit Harington, and Malcolm McDowell are among the cast.

The movie is about a teenager who discovers that her identity is somewhat different from what she always presumed. She then visits an alternate dimension and is introduced to the Silent Hill town. The total budget was around $20 million, with filming lasting until May 2011. At the box office, this movie grossed about $56 million in total. Unfortunately, the critics and fans weren’t too happy with the result.

8. Super Mario Bros

This fantasy adventure film came out in 1993 and is loosely connected to the famous Mario games from Nintendo. A husband and wife team directed the movie, while the distribution was through Walt Disney Studios.

The story here is somewhat similar to the game, with the Mario brothers trying to rescue the Princess Daisy, who’s trapped in a parallel universe with a dystopic setting. The inspiration here is from Super Mario World, with a lot of elements from contemporary cultures plus fairy tales. The budget was $48 million, with the special effects garnering praise from critics. Unfortunately, the movie itself was cited as one of the worst works of its kind.

9. Assassin’s Creed

This action movie came out in 2016 and is based on the successful video game franchise. The name will be a familiar one for most gamers, though the storyline of the movie is an original one. The universe is about the same though, with expansions upon the same mythology. Even with this creativity, the reviews for the movie were mostly negative. Fortunately, it still managed to gross $240 million against a budget of $125 million.

10. Rampage

This is a monster film in the science fiction genre, with Brad Preyton as the director. It’s loosely based on a video game series with the same title, released by Midway Games. Most fans will probably know this as a Dwayne Johnson movie, though it’s also the one that got better reviews than most of the films on this list.

The premise of the film is about a primatologist and an albino gorilla teaming up. Their goal is to prevent some other animals with mutations from destroying the city. The total gross of this film to date is $428, with mixed to positive critical reviews. Johnson’s performance was praised here, with Jeffrey Dean Morgan also getting a lot of appreciation. The visual effects were also impressive, but the storyline and screenplay still feel short of excellent.