Despite a mixed reception, 2022’s Uncharted film from Sony Pictures was released to a gross of US $401.7 million. With the company’s confidence around the market growing, Sony has rolled out plans for several new PlayStation movie and TV adaptations.
In a discussion with The Hollywood Reporter, Tony Vinciquerra, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, confirmed thirteen PlayStation titles at the time, in various stages of production for film and television.
While the full extent of Sony’s ambitions for PlayStation and the silver screen remains unseen, here is every movie and TV adaptation based on a PlayStation property that we know to be in production:
- Ghost of Tsushima
- Days Gone
- Metal Gear Solid
- Gravity Rush
- The Last of Us
- God of War
- Horizon Zero Dawn
- Gran Turismo
- Shadow of the Colossus
- Sly Cooper
- Heavy Rain
- Twisted Metal
Ghost of Tsushima
Following Uncharted, the next collaboration between Sony Pictures and PlayStation Productions is Ghost of Tsushima. The game, developed by Sucker Punch Productions, features Jin Sakai, the last remaining samurai on the island of Tsushima who must reconcile his traditional notions of honour with the guile demanded to fend off a Mongol incursion. The game features an inventive and responsive combat system featuring a diverse arsenal that allows players to choose between direct confrontation and more subtle approaches to encounters.
Chad Stahelski, director of the John Wick series, is at the helm of this project, as part of his film production company 87Eleven. The improvisational choreography of Stahelski’s previous work could lend well to the creative combat of Ghost of Tsushima, albeit with Japanese-inspired 13th-century weaponry taking the place of firearms and stationery.
Nate Fox, game director for Sucker Punch, echoed sentiments approving the choice of director on the PlayStation Blog, saying ‘Jin is in very good hands with the film’s director… If anyone could bring to life the razor-sharp tension of Jin’s katana combat, it’s Chad Stahelski.’
Stahelski’s involvement with Ghost of Tsushima parallels John Wick creator Derek Kolstad’s role in the upcoming Streets of Rage film.
After the cancellation of Netflix’s less-than-stellar Resident Evil series and the forthcoming conclusion of AMC’s The Walking Dead this year, an open gap has been left in zombie media. According to Sony, it’s a space worth breaking into – with the announcement of an adaptation of Bend Studios’ zombie survival game, under Vendetta Films.
Director Sheldon Turner, writer for X-Men: First Class and the previously planned Splinter Cell film, made his vision for his Days Gone movie as a ‘love ballad to motorcycle movies’ known, translating elements of the game where a motorcycle is the sole form of transportation for the protagonist, Deacon St. John.
Sam Heughan, best known for his starring role in Outlander, has reportedly been cast as Deacon St. John. He takes the place of Sam Witwer, the actor behind not only the voice, but also the likeness and motion capture for Deacon in the video games. Sony’s reasons for this Sam switcheroo aren’t entirely clear, as Witwer has no lack of experience on the big screen – he previously appeared in The Mist and Supergirl, among other things.
Casting and motorcycles aside, the Days Gone video game was especially notable for its unprecedented numbers of ‘Freakers’ – the game’s interpretation of the classic undead. If Vendetta Films is able to capture even a fraction of the spectacle that made Days Gone stand out, then it will certainly be an interesting addition to the horde of zombie flicks worth keeping an eye on.
Metal Gear Solid
Though it’s technically a Konami property, Sony Pictures is currently developing a film adaptation of Metal Gear Solid, the landmark stealth-action game that sees special operative Solid Snake infiltrate a covert terrorist base to put a stop to the weapons project, Metal Gear. While the franchise’s games have taken a halt following the departure of series lead Hideo Kojima from Konami, plans for a film adaptation of the games sees no sign of stopping.
Released in 1998, Metal Gear Solid’s adaptation is under the direction of Jordan Vogt-Roberts (Kong: Skull Island) and reportedly features Oscar Isaac (Moon Knight, Dune) in the lead as Solid Snake, as reported by Deadline.
Isaac, who had previously expressed interest in the role, has had numerous high-profile roles in recent years, including multiple appearances in the Star Wars franchise. With no shortage of plotlines to adapt and Metal Gear Solid’s strong emphasis on cinematic storytelling, this could be the beginning of a wide-spanning series not only for Isaac, but the wider Metal Gear Universe.
Gravity Rush (Gravity Daze in Japan), debuted on the PlayStation Vita in 2012, making liberal use of the handheld console’s gyroscopes to control the gravity-bending powers of protagonist Kat as she navigates the world of the action adventure.
Partnering with Scott Free Productions (Alien Covenant, Blade Runner 2049), Sony is setting out to bring Gravity Rush to the big screen with director Anna Mastro – no stranger to working with teenage superheroes, being responsible for Disney’s Secret Society for Second Born Royals and episodes for Marvel’s Runaways.
While not among the biggest names for Sony, the premise of Gravity Rush lays down the groundwork for mind-bending cinematography that just might pull in the crowds into theatres.
The Last of Us
The Last of Us tells the tale of jaded smuggler Joel as he and virus-immune teenager Ellie, as they travel through a post-apocalyptic United States ravaged by hordes of the fungally-infected undead.
The Game of the Year award-winning, third-person survival game offers looks not only at the bleak and desperate soul of a derelict society, but also at how life continues to thrive without humans – from greenery-consumed cityscapes to various animal encounters over the course of the game.
Coming in the wake of a film adaptation that ultimately led to a cancellation in 2020, the series, starring Pedro Pascal of Narcos fame, previewed footage of its episodes in August 2022, ahead of its release on HBO in 2023.
Based on what we’ve seen so far, Sony’s The Last of Us seems to be focused only on the first game in the series, and not the second, set five years after, but looks to incorporate story beats that might have been cut from the original game, as reported by Rotten Tomatoes.
While we’re yet to get a look at how the outside world, and the horrors that infest it, are designed for the television show, various shots recreating scenes in the games and a brief clip of the cordyceps infection on a wall leave us optimistic over the vision that co-creators Neil Druckmann (Creative Director for The Last of Us) and Craig Mazin (Chernobyl, the upcoming Borderlands film) have in store for the series.
God of War
The adaptation of the mythological hack-and-slash turned father-son bonding simulator, God of War, falls under the supervision of Amazon Prime. The God of War franchise boasts a range of games spanning over a decade – with its most recent, God of War (2018) receiving a slew of awards – including The Game Awards’ Game of The Year. The sequel to God of War (2018), God of War: Ragnarok is set to be released on 9 November 2020.
While it’s unclear exactly which part of the God of War mythos the series will be adapting, the timing of the series’ production suggests a focus on its more recent foray into the ‘nordic age’ of games – assumedly more in line with the later game’s mature themes of grief and family, and less the gratuitous Mortal Kombat-esque violence and quicktime sex minigames of the earlier games.
Even if Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby (Children of Men, Iron Man), screenwriters for God of War according to Deadline, refrain from placing the television adaptation directly in the narrative of the games, there remains a lot of room to work with. Given God of War’s rich Greco-nordic inspiration, the lore bears potential as the basis of shorter, or even one-shot, storylines that tie loosely into the wider events of Kratos’ tale of vengeance.
Horizon Zero Dawn
Post-apocalyptic/prehistoric open-world action game Horizon Zero Dawn sees primitive hunter Aloy attempt to ascertain why the 31st-century world’s machines have gone rogue. The game was released in 2017, with its sequel, Horizon Forbidden West released in 2022. Steve Blackman, showrunner for The Umbrella Academy, is set to lead the adaptation.
Like many other entries on this list, Horizon Zero Dawn is a conceptual world rooted in visually intensive setpieces. With Netflix in charge of production for Horizon Zero Dawn, the big-budget streaming service is one of the better candidates for the job, should it try to tackle the man vs. giant machine angle head-on.
In the background, Horizon Zero Dawn’s subplot of scientific aspirations gone awry with capitalistic agendas may be oft-done, but doesn’t fail to become increasingly relevant by the day. While Blackman has confirmed Aloy as the main character in Horizon Zero Dawn’s series, the game’s storyline, set in the past, provides a backstory that could enrich the relatively straightforward action of the main game’s events. Without spoiling too much, the relationship between Aloy and her predecessor could also set the stage for some interesting dual narrative thematic and visual devices.
According to an exclusive on That Hashtag Show, Lovecraftian Souls-like Bloodborne has a limited run series from HBO on the way, proposing an ‘8-episode season’ featuring one of the game’s bosses in each.
FromSoftware’s 2015 game has the protagonist’s journey to carve their ways through swathes of the eldritch front and centre, and the series appears to be no exception. That Hashtag Show makes comparisons to films like The Raid, wherein a lone protagonist battles through a series of enemies before facing off with the boss, not unlike the various areas of the game.
The exclusive also details concept art in the direction of ‘visual feasts for the eyes… in keeping with the Souls brand of bloody violence.’ This, in tandem with the format of the series described, seems to paint an emphasis on combat and creature design, in line with the strongest parts of the game’s gothic appeal.
Perhaps surprisingly, Bloodborne for HBO seems to be live-action, unlike a similar work from 2017, Netflix’s Castlevania. This is evidenced by the search for a lead with ‘a strong background in stunt work,’ which seems an unnecessary touch for an animated or fully-CGI production. How this will fare for Bloodborne’s silent hunter, like the Great Ones, remains unseen.
Set to arrive 11 August 2023, PlayStation driving simulator Gran Turismo’s movie is probably the title in this list most grounded in reality. As such, it’s no surprise that Sony appears to be taking a less fantastical approach to its adaptation.
Director Neill Blomkamp (District 9) and studio Columbia Pictures have opted instead to tell the story of a teenage gamer-turned-professional race car driver in the ‘ultimate wish fulfilment tale’ ‘based on a true story,’ as reported by Deadline – almost certainly referencing the careers of Lucas Ordóñez or Jann Mardenborough – motorsports racers with their roots in the Sony simulation series.
Blomkamp’s previous work in Chappie and District 9 paint a fairly clear picture of his distinctive style, and while it’s disappointing we never got to see his take on the scrapped Halo film, his use of naturalistic camera work, alongside CGI and a recurrent emphasis on social commentary, seem rather apt for an interpretation of this rags-to-riches story about Gran Turismo and video games itself.
Shadow of the Colossus
Shadow of the Colossus is an action-adventure game wherein the mysterious protagonist, Wander, must slay sixteen gigantic beings in order to revive Mono, a young woman. Since its initial 2005 PlayStation 2 version, Shadow of Colossus has received both a remaster and a remake and, if The Last of Us is anything to go by, this marks a story worth telling.
Shadow of the Colossus’ minimalist storytelling is a masterclass in implicit word building, and the title’s visual spectacle of sweeping vistas and ominous, yet strangely serene colossi would, in my opinion, serve as the perfect source material for a breathtaking and pensive atmospheric film – much to the contrast of narrative’s like 2020’s Monster Hunter adaptation.
Without spoiling anything, it will be interesting to see how Sony chooses to convey the emotional impact the games had – especially if those who have already played through Shadow of the Colossus are to become emotionally invested once again.
While details about an upcoming Infamous film are incredibly scarce, sources such as leaks and an exclusive from That Hashtag Show, seem to suggest that a movie might be coming with the rumoured new game. The events of Infamous follow various ‘conduits’ – individuals or ‘conduits’ who have come to obtain supernatural powers. The games emphasise decision making, with player agency determining whether these powers are ultimately used for good or evil.
While certainly not a novel concept, this moral struggle could foreground the central conflict of a potential film. Should the adaptation elect not to follow the plotlines of series’ protagonists Cole and Delsin, the idea of everyday citizens finding themselves with deific abilities and its resulting implications in their lives can easily make a good film, à la 2012’s Chronicle.
Speaking of conflicts and Chronicle, Josh Trank, who was reported to be previously working on Shadow of the Colossus, was replaced due to scheduling conflicts – his Star Wars spinoff and Fantastic Four reboot likely among them. As the director of found-footage action film Chronicle, which sees ill-advised teenagers gain superpowers, I’m optimistic that if Trank should make a return to Sony properties, Infamous would be a perfect fit.
Also from Sucker Punch studios, the developers of Infamous, and alike in rumours of new additions to their respective series, is stealth platformer – Sly Cooper.
Hailing from a time where video game films were synonymous with, at best, cheesy camp and, at worst, a complete massacre of the source material, Sly Cooper was planned to have Blockade Entertainment produce an animated movie set in the platforming adventure’s world of thieving, anthropomorphic animals.
The adaptation retained two-thirds of its original voice actors for the film’s trio, reprising Matt Olsen as the brains of the group, Bentley, and Chris Murphy as the brawny hippopotamus, Murray. However, the voice of the titular Sly, Kevin Miller, had been replaced – the second example of such a move on this list.
Regarding the film itself, Sly Cooper appeared to be progressing well, which announced itself in 2014, coinciding with a two-minute trailer that set the release date for two years later.
Ultimately, Sly Cooper’s downfall was inextricably tied to the success of the other furry, wise-cracking, PlayStation 2 platformer protagonist’s foray into film. Ratchet from 2002’s Ratchet and Clank’s film in 2016, the same year planned for Sly Cooper, flopped – grossing US $14.4 Million against a production budget of US $20 Million. With teams of the two projects largely overlapping, Sly Cooper eventually had to be dropped.
Now that Sony seems to be getting back into the business of filmmaking, with the amount of work that had already been completed, maybe it’s not too late for Sly Cooper to see the light of day.
If you thought Sly Cooper had been swept under the rug, Heavy Rain’s transition to film has the former beat – New Line Cinema were offered the rights to make a Heavy Rain film as early as 2006. If that doesn’t sound right to you, that’s because this was four years before Heavy Rain was released, when an oddly terrifying casting tech demo was all that head reached the public.
Due to its nature as an interactive story, with a lighter emphasis on gameplay than narrative, if the studio that picks up Heavy Rain plays it close to how things panned out in game, then production is less a writing endeavour, and more a matter of choosing which story path to adapt – and with whom.
While IMDb still lists Heavy Rain as being in development, no insight into the film’s production has broken since the start of 2011.
Finally, alongside the upcoming video game adaptation of Killer Klowns from Outer Space, it seems clown season is far from over – over-the-top vehicular combat game Twisted Metal receiving a series on streaming service Peacock as ‘a high-octane action comedy, based on an original take by Rhett Reese (Deadpool, Zombieland) and Paul Wernick’.
Following a yet unreleased film from a decade ago, Twisted Metal appears to be leaning more to the humorous side of series, no doubt playing off the game’s insane cast of colourful characters – from a cyborg strapped into a horrible apparatus of tire treads and rocket launchers, to series icon Sweet Tooth, killer clown with a face on fire. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier star Anthony Mackie takes the lead role for Twisted Metal, in addition to a spot in the cast for the aforementioned planned Gravity Rush film. Production for Twisted Metal has been concluded as of 28 August, with expectations that the series will be released in the near future.