the (small) success that will transform PlayStation into Marvel?

The movie (very average) Unexploredwith Tom Holland as Nathan Drake, was it a box office success? Will it give Marvel wings to PlayStation Productions, before God of the war and Company ?

Between the announcement of the adaptation to the cinema of video games Unexplored and the film’s release in 2021, the world has had time to survive fifteen waves of the pandemic, a semi-trailer of Marvel movies, and plenty of Caesar ceremonies. Launched in 2008passed through the hands of seven directors and too many screenwriters to count, Unexplored changed so much along the way that Mark Wahlberg was initially cast as Nathan Drake, before signing on for Sully.

More Unexplored Hollywood version, starring Tom Spider-Man Holland as Nathan Drake, finally arrived in 2022. Obviously designed to launch a franchise, the film directed by Ruben Fleischer (zombieland, Venom) was expected at the turn, in particular because Sony has operate its video game brands with PlayStation Studios.

Unexplored was therefore the first life-size test, and the result is almost clear: there will be sequels, whether to Uncharted, or to the Sony video game Cinematic Whatever Universe.

uncharted sold off?

With its two studio basements, its trip to sea and its fifteen blue backgrounds, the film Unexplored could it really be expensive? Not really. Officially: $120 million, the low end of the blockbuster. Facing the 200 million behemoths, like fast furiousJames Bond, jurassic world and others Spider Manthat’s a reasonable number.

Compared to other video game adaptations, $120 million is rather high budget, next to Sonic (90 million), grave robber (in the 100 million), Carnage (120-140 million), Assassin’s Creed (125 million), Pokemon: Detective Pikachu (150 million), Warcraft (160 million) or Prince of Persia (close to 200 million). Maybe it was even a risk, since a lot of the adaptations were mid-budget, like mortal combat (55 million), monster hunter (60 million), or the whole saga resident Evil (40-60 million). In the action-movie-with-a-guy department, it is also much more than Need of speed (66 million), Max Payne (35 million), already with Mark Wahlberg, or Hitman (25 millions).

To this production budget of 120 million is added the marketing budget. As usual, no info on this subject, even if Unexplored probably spent 50-70 million on promo.

Estimated total balance sheet: probably in the 200 million range, all inclusive.

He knows Parker the heights of the box office

drake fortune

Unexplored the film earned nearly $360 million at the global box office. A priori, it is in the nails. That’s a lot less than other video game adaptations like Warcraft (438 million), Detective Pikachu (431 million) and Carnage (427 million), but that’s more than Prince of Persia (336 million), Sonic (304 million), grave robber (273 million), Assassin’s Creed (240 million), or Need of speed (194 million).

This is obviously a (very) modest sum compared to heavyweights Dying can wait (774 million), Fast and Furious 9 (726 million), Venom 2 (502 million) or Godzilla vs. Kong (468 million), not to mention the juggernaut Spider-Man: No Coming Home (1.8 billion) with Tom Holland.

Uncharted: photo, Tom Holland, Sophia Taylor AliAt the box office through the back door


More Unexplored holds its own against other comparable adventure films, including Benjamin Gates (about 350 million), before its sequel (nearly 460 million). Another story of men and sand: The Mummy. The trilogy with Brendan Fraser topped out at 443 million with the second movie, when the version with Tom Cruise didn’t even hit 410 million.

Even compared to the extremes, Unexplored remains an honorable medium, far from the star Indiana Jones (more than 790 million with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), but far above counter-performances like Sahara with Matthew McConaughey (not even 120 million), or Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – Cradle of Life (160 million).

The Mummy Returns : Photo Brendan FraserThe mummy friend

globe trotting

In detail, where Unexplored hit the jackpot in the world? First on the American side, with more than 133 million at the domestic box office. Unexplored has therefore aimed right at the territory that Hollywood studios like to seduce, since that is where they recover the most revenue. To compare, The Mummy of Tom Cruise was satisfied with 80 million, when Warcraft and Assassin’s Creed had been domestic flops (and not only) with scores less than around 50 million.

Elsewhere, Unexplored didn’t necessarily shine, Covid or not. The film was especially successful in the United Kingdom (30 million), France (17 million), and China (10 million).

Uncharted: photo, Tom HollandThe dilemma of neon

This is where it’s fun to compare to the sales of video games Unexploredsince Nathan Drake has been particularly popular in the UK. Uncharted 3: The Drake Illusion had started from the fire of god, to become the 11th biggest launch of a PS3 game on this territory, according to mcvuk.

Small disappointment nevertheless in Japan. The games had settled in over the episodes to become big hits, but the film only made $1 million at the box office; either a score similar to the film Sonic. Would this public be more cautious and demanding? No, since he kissed full on the mouth Detective Pikachu (27 million) and Paul WS Anderson, whether with resident Evil (36 million for Final chapter) Where monster hunter (more than 11 million).

finished video game

Unexplored was therefore a success, perhaps modest, but a success nonetheless. All that remains is to wait for the announcements on the rest of the operations. Because the rest will come, it’s only a matter of time. Hot off the heels of the strong box office start, Sony boss Tom Rothman announced the color, as quoted at Deadline :

“With over 100 million at the worldwide box office in just one weekend, and 90% positive ratings from audiences on Rotten Tomatoes, Uncharted is a successful new franchise for the company. […] […) Dans la foulée de Venom : Let There Be Carnage, S.O.S. Fantômes : l’Héritage, et Spider-Man : No Way Home, Uncharted est un nouveau coup pour les opposants à la sortie salles, et une nouvelle preuve de l’efficacité de notre modèle.”

Une célébration parfaite pour le business, qui intronisait Tom Holland comme nouvelle égérie du studio, en plus d’ajouter une corde à l’arc des comptables.

 

Uncharted 4 : A Thief's End : photoC’est ça qu’on veut dans un film Uncharted bordel

 

Mais le vrai sujet est PlayStation Productions, fondé en 2019. Leur premier film, Uncharted, a été une réussite d’autant plus remarquable que le business du jeu vidéo au cinéma reste périlleux. Certes, Capcom avait remporté la mise avec une saga Resident Evil qui a rapporté plus de 1,2 milliard au box-office. Mais les véritables franchises tirées de jeux vidéo sont plus que rares. Tomb Raider, Mortal Kombat, Silent Hill : tous ont eu droit à un coup de frein avec les suites, en ayant en plus eu la possibilité d’avoir une suite.

La question des collaborations entre studios de cinéma et studios de jeux vidéo est centrale ; et c’est probablement pour ça que Sony/PlayStation ont une force de frappe et de maîtrise spectaculaire.

Ubisoft s’était royalement planté avec le film Assassin’s Creed, malgré une équation en or à l’affiche (Michael Fassbender, le réalisateur Justin Kurzel, Marion Cotillard) et des moyens considérables. Pourquoi ? Peut-être que c’était avant tout une manœuvre cynique. Le chef de la division européenne d’Ubisoft, Alain Corre, décrivait le film comme “une arme marketing qui va bénéficier à l’image de la marque”, assumant que les bénéfices seraient forcément maigres en salles. Depuis, la marque a migré vers Netflix, où l’univers devrait être exploité à fond.

 

Assassin's Creed : Photo Michael FassbenderAssassiner l’Assassin

 

Warcraft a été un autre cas d’école : un film tiraillé entre les exigences, demandes et contraintes de Blizzard, Legendary, Universal et leurs partenaires chinois. Le réalisateur Duncan Jones était le premier à soupirer en faisant le bilan à l’époque :

“Warcraft a été fait dans des circonstances uniques, impossibles à contourner. Trop de gens qui avaient un avis, simplement parce que c’est la nature de Warcraft. Blizzard est une entreprise qui fait un milliard chaque année juste avec ses jeux. Le film ne représentait rien pour eux. Ce n’était vraiment pas leur priorité. Ils payent leurs employés avec les jeux, pas avec le film. Donc pour eux, le film devait servir le jeu, en opposition à des jeux et un film qui seraient deux choses séparées.”

Le passage de flambeau entre les jeux vidéo et les écrans de cinéma est une mission presque impossible, du moins dans de bonnes conditions. Et il n’y a qu’à repenser au projet de film Halo, enterré à cause des exigences de Microsoft avant de renaître sous forme de série, pour s’en souvenir.

 

Warcraft - Le commencement : photoWarcraft : le non-commencement

 

L’UNIVErs étendu PLAYSTATION

Fin 2020, Tony Vinciquerra, boss de Sony Pictures, parlait de trois films et sept séries en développement côté PlayStation. Le film Uncharted, le film Ghost of Tsushima (annoncé en 2021), le film Jak and Daxter (annoncé en 2022, avec le réalisateur d’Uncharted) : le compte est bon côté cinéma.

Côté série, pas encore : The Last of Us attendue sur HBO, Twisted Metal sur Peacock, et God of War annoncé pour Amazon. Il y aurait donc quatre autres projets à dévoiler.

 

Who will be next? In view of PlayStation Productions’ animated logo, launched with the film Unexplored : Aloy in a Blockbuster Horizon Zero Dawn ? sackboy from little big planet in a series for children? No doubt the series The last of us will serve as a second full-scale test, after Unexplored At the movie theater. And that if successful, the PlayStation kingdom will sweep across all screens for good.

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