A live-action Destiny movie would be a mistake
Sony didn’t acquire Bungie for $3.6 billion just because it wanted a piece of that Eververse money. With Bungie, Sony gets a strategic partner who can help it gain a foothold in the live service – a segment of the industry Sony wants to grow over the next five years – while also providing Bungie with the means to expand Destiny to a multimedia franchise – something Bungie has wanted for Destiny for a long time. During an earnings conference call this week, Sony CFO Hiroki Totoki said Bungie can now leverage Sony Pictures and Sony Music to grow Destiny beyond games. Specifically, Totoki referenced Destiny’s turning into a movie.
It’s not an official announcement, but there’s no doubt that Destiny will have a big (or small) screen adaptation – it’s only a matter of time. Sony is well on its way with several video game adaptations like Uncharted, The Last of Us, and Ghost of Tsushima, and Bungie has hired Riot’s director of animated shorts to be the responsible for developing Destiny’s transmedia universe this week. We know it’s coming, we just don’t know what it will look like.
Sony is no stranger to live-action video game movies. Besides Uncharted, Sony also distributed Resident Evil: Welcome To Raccoon City and Monster Hunter last year. Sony also has an in-house animation studio, Sony Pictures Animation, which produced The Angry Birds Movie 2 and Into the Spider-Verse. There’s also Sony Pictures Television, which produces a wide range of TV content on nearly every network and streaming service. Sony Pictures Television’s most notable recent shows include The Boys, Cobra Kai, and The Wheel of Time.
Bungie could go either direction with Destiny, but Sony certainly has the most experience with live-action video game movies. That would be the worst possible outcome, however. We don’t have to look far to find plenty of evidence that Destiny is better off staying away from live action – and live action movies, in particular.
Bungie’s other creation, Halo, has an upcoming live-action series that’s already been trolled for its looks. Fans call it low budget and compare it to a corny Syfy channel show. Of course, Halo is not a low-budget production – far from it. Production costs are estimated at over $40 million. A fraction of the budget for an MCU movie perhaps, but still nearly double what Sony spent on Resident Evil: Welcome To Racoon City.
The problem is, no matter how much film the Halo series invests in realistic Warthogs and flashy CGI, it will never compare to the games’ distinct visual style. The Cortana in the series would look off-brand even if it was the right shade of blue. “Good” video game movies avoid comparison altogether. That’s why Sonic runs around Montana with the local sheriff instead of bouncing back to the Green Hill Zone springs. Of course, a Destiny movie would have to replicate the look and style of the game in the same way as Halo, but it would certainly run into a lot more issues with verisimilitude.
Nothing looks like Destiny, that’s part of its appeal. There isn’t a single place that looks like the real world. Even the Earth has been twisted and terraformed by hundreds of years of space magic influence. To recreate the many planets and locations in Destiny, you must create an entire virtual world at the Avatar level.
But nailing Destiny’s visual style is only the first issue. The real problem is squeezing the expansive story into the feature film format. We’ve seen how poorly Warcraft translated to the big screen. Boiling Destiny for up to 120 minutes would likely have the same result.
Following the success of Arcane, animation seems to be the best medium for Destiny. This would allow the filmmakers to retain the game’s aesthetic and create scenes that would never work in live-action. The structure of a series would also allow for more fleshed out stories that could do all the world building and character development necessary for a Destiny adaptation, just like Arcane did for League of Legends. While I’d love to see Lance Reddick play Zavala in real life, live-action just isn’t equipped to do Destiny justice.
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