Avi Arad on the “Uncharted” movie and why he passed on “Halo”


Posted by on

It’s no secret that veteran movie and television producer Avi Arad has played an important role — possibly one of the most important — in bringing comic book movies to the point they are today. Not only did the former CEO and founder of Marvel Studios help bring Marvel out of bankruptcy in the late ’90s, but his efforts to bring Marvel superheroes from the page to the screen paved the way for much of the characters’ rise to mainstream prominence in recent years.

Over the weekend, Arad was in town promoting his latest page-to-screen project, “The Amazing Spider-Man,” a reboot of the popular Marvel Comics character’s big-screen franchise that casts Andrew Garfield (“The Social Network”) as wall-crawling, web-slinging nerdy superhero Peter Parker. Along with telling IFC all about the new film — which is directed by “500 Days of Summer” filmmaker Marc Webb — Arad also shared some thoughts with IFC about the other genre he’s been mining for movie projects lately: video games.

Keep an eye on IFC.com as we get closer to the July 3 premiere of “The Amazing Spider-Man” for more on the webslinger’s return to the screen, but with Arad currently nudging along films based on popular games like “Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune,” “Infamous,” “Twisted Metal,” and possibly “Metal Gear Solid,” we couldn’t help picking the producer’s brain on the appeal of games as source material and where some of these projects are at right now.

“I think what will happen with ‘Uncharted’ is that it will be the first of many, because it will be so fun and [I think it will be] a very big movie,” Arad told IFC. “So the floodgates will open.”

The award-winning “Uncharted” franchise follows the adventures of a treasure hunter named Nathan Drake who travels around the world with his pal Victor “Sully” Sullivan. An “Uncharted” movie has been in development for several years now, with “Limitless” director Neil Burger attached to the project since July 2011.

“We have a great director,” said Arad of the film. “So in anticipation, I’m accumulating the kind of games that I’m personally interested in from a story standpoint. They have to have a story.”

According to Arad, the presence of a strong narrative thread has often been the deciding factor in which games he pursues for the big screen, and which ones he’s content to pass over. And just because a game sells well, that doesn’t mean it makes sense as a movie.

“My problem with the ‘Halo‘ games was that there was no face anywhere,” he said of his decision not to pursue a big-screen version of the wildly popular “Halo” franchise. “I didn’t know what to do with it. I thought about it a lot, because commercially it was huge. But when I look at things like ‘Metal Gear Solid’ and I’m reading the bible for it, and there’s this Cain and Abel story and all this shit, I’m like, ‘Now, that is a movie!'”

“But ‘Uncharted’ was very natural, because it’s about historical things.” he continued. “Emotionally, there was a very simple story about a boy searching for something, who had no origin, in a way. He was a street rat. And just like my mother used to tell me that 500 years ago we were princes in another country, someone told [Nathan Drake] something that he could hold on to. That makes for enough emotion to make a fun story.”

Arad also touched on the difficulty of adapting certain types of games — specifically, first-person shooters.

“Sometimes I would find that video games lacked one particular component: the definition of the hero of the game,” he explained. “And that’s because you are that character — especially with the first-person shooters.”

Still, there are certain elements of the modern gaming scene that have actually made it easier for projects to make the leap from the gaming world to Hollywood, said Arad. And more and more often, he finds himself looking to the gaming industry as often as the comic-book world for the next big thing.

“With the cinematics in games today, I could easily cut a long trailer — a 70-minute animated presentation — just from the cinematics in these games,” he laughed. “So video games are already primed to be the next source material.”

“And I hope I’m right again,” he added.

Is there a video game you’d like to see adapted into a movie? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

Watch More

Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

Posted by on
Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

Watch More
Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

Posted by on

End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

Watch More

Byrning Down the House

Everything You Need to Know About the Film That Inspired “Final Transmission”

Documentary Now! pays tribute to "Stop Making Sense" this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

Posted by on
Photo Credit: Cinecom/courtesy Everett Collection

This week Documentary Now! is with the band. For everyone who’s ever wanted to be a roadie without leaving the couch, “Final Transmission” pulls back the curtain on experimental rock group Test Pattern’s final concert. Before you tune in Wednesday at 10P on IFC, plug your amp into this guide for Stop Making Sense, the acclaimed 1984 Talking Heads concert documentary.

Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Hailed as one of the best concert films ever created, director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) captured the energy and eccentricities of a band known for pushing the limits of music and performance.

Make an Entrance

Lead singer David Byrne treats the concert like a story: He enters an empty stage with a boom box and sings the first song on the setlist solo, then welcomes the other members of the group to the stage one song at a time.

Steal the Spotlight

David Byrne Dancing
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Always a physical performer, Byrne infuses the stage and the film with contagious joy — jogging in place, dancing with lamps, and generally carrying the show’s high energy on his shoulders.

Suit Yourself

Byrne makes a splash in his “big suit,” a boxy business suit that grows with each song until he looks like a boy who raided his father’s closet. Don’t overthink it; on the DVD, the singer explains, “Music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head.”

View from the Front Row

Stop Making Sense Band On Stage
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Demme (who also helmed 1987’s Swimming to Cambodia, the inspiration for this season’s Documentary Now! episode “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”) films the show by putting viewers in the audience’s shoes. The camera rarely shows the crowd and never cuts to interviews or talking heads — except the ones onstage.

Let’s Get Digital

Tina Weymouth Keyboard
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Stop Making Sense isn’t just a good time — it’s also the first rock movie to be recorded entirely using digital audio techniques. The sound holds up more than 30 years later.

Out of Pocket

Talk about investing in your art: Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz told Rolling Stone that the members of the band “basically put [their] life savings” into the movie, and they didn’t regret it.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Stop Making Sense when “Final Transmission” premieres Wednesday, October 12 at 10P on IFC.

Watch More
Powered by ZergNet