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

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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.

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Home Run

Hank Azaria Gets Thrown A Curve Ball

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Unless you’ve somehow missed every episode of the Simpsons since 1989, then surely you know that Hank Azaria is one of the most important character actors of our time. He’s so prolific and his voice is so dynamic that he’s responsible for more iconic personalities than most folks realize. Basically, he’s the great and powerful Oz — except that when you pull back the curtain the truth is actually more impressive. And now Hank is coming to IFC to bring yet another character to the TV pop culture hive mind in the new series Brockmire. Check out the trailer below.

Based on the following Funny or Die short and co-starring Amanda Peet, Brockmire follows the story of imploded major league sportscaster Jim Brockmire as he tries to resurrect his career by calling plays for a floundering minor league team in a podunk town.

The series is written by Joel Church-Cooper (Undateable) and produced by Funny or Die’s Mike Farah and Joe Farrell, meaning that there’s funny in front of the camera, funny behind the camera–funny all around. Sounds like a ball to us.

Brockmire premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Car Notes

Portlandia On People Who Can’t Park

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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If flagrant bad parking takes nerve, then retaliatory note writing takes neuroses. Watch Fred and Carrie take passive aggression to next level in Car Notes, the new Portlandia web series presented by Subaru. The first episode is yours right here and now, and you can see every installment of Car Notes anytime online, on the IFC app and on demand.

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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Nick Kroll and John Mulaney To Host Spirit Awards

The Spirit Awards Air February 25 LIVE on IFC.

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The 2017 Spirit Awards have finally found their frontmen: Nick Kroll and John Mulaney. And it’s no wonder. Just marvel in their splendid chemistry back when they appeared on Comedy Bang! Bang!:

The pair are prolific within the performing arts community: television (Kroll in The League and The Kroll Show, Mulaney as a writer of IFC’s own Documentary Now!), theater (including Broadway’s current Oh Hello Show), and stand-up comedy. In fact, it’s entirely possible that emceeing an awards show is one of the few remaining line items on their professional bucket lists.

It’s important to caveat this announcement, however. Unlike the bigger and more ubiquitously known awards shows, the Spirit Awards are not, well…boring. (We’re talking to you, Oscar.)

They’re funny. They’re honest. They have quality to match the red-carpet fanfare. And that’s alarmingly special. Last year’s show included some legitimately historic moments, like when transgender actress Mya Taylor won best supporting female, or Kate McKinnon’s hilarious and timely parody of Carol. See more highlights here to get the flavor of the Spirit Awards and read all about Film Independent to dig deeper.

The 2017 Spirit Awards air live February 25 at 5P ET exclusively on IFC.

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