When the Death Stranding movie adaptation from Kojima Productions and Hammerstone Studios was first announced, there were naturally plenty of questions around its creation. How involved would original creator Hideo Kojima be? Would it follow the plot of the original video game, and star Norman Reedus? Just how weird could it be? In a new interview with IGN, Kojima himself has tackled some of these questions, speaking more about the upcoming adaptation, and how experimental it will be.
According to Kojima, the Death Stranding movie adaptation won’t be a ‘large-scale movie’ filled with traditional Hollywood-style explosions. Instead, like Death Stranding itself, it will be an obscure, creative, and intimate work – more emotional than action-heavy.
‘I was on video calls with lots of people in Hollywood every week beginning last year, and not just for Death Stranding. I received a lot of offers, but my intention from the start was never to make a blockbuster film. Alex Lebovici from Hammerstone Studios shared my vision with regards to that,’ Kojima said.
Lebovici has become known for his work on off-kilter tales – including Hammerstone’s recent horror hit, Barbarian. The studio also aided production on the excellent Bill & Ted Face the Music, an irreverent and much-loved comedy sequel.
‘There were a lot of pitches to make a large-scale movie with famous actors and flashy explosions, but what good would explosions be in Death Stranding? Making money isn’t something I’m focused on at all, either,’ Kojima explained of the partnership. ‘I’m aiming for a more arthouse approach, and the only person who offered to make a film like that was Alex Lebovici, which makes me think he’s a rather unusual type.’
Arthouse, in this sense, refers to more experimental, artistic and subjective works that play on human emotion. A plain action film simply wouldn’t work in the odd post-apocalyptic world of Death Stranding, where human piss can be weaponised to contend with ghostly remnants.
Beyond nailing a more creative style for the film, there are still many particulars for Kojima Productions and Hammerstone Studios to work out before the Death Stranding adaptation hits cinema screens. According to Kojima, work is still progressing steadily – but the team wants to take its time in development, particularly given recent video game adaptation failures.
‘The failure of film adaptations of games from a while back has led to a lot of movies that cater to gamers, right? That’s why they have the same kind of look as a game. I don’t want the Death Stranding movie to be like that,’ Kojima told IGN.
‘Rather, I’m taking the approach of changing and evolving the world of Death Stranding in a way that suits film well. I made Death Stranding to be a game, and games are games. There’s no real need to turn them into films. So in a way, the … movie is taking a direction that nobody has tried before with a movie adaptation of a game. I think that what I need to make is something that will inspire some of the people who watch it to become creators 10 or 20 years down the line.’
When the Death Stranding adaptation eventually releases, expect it to be an experimental extension of the world Kojima Productions has built – not necessarily a direct, beat-by-beat interpretation of the game. There are plenty of corners left unexplored in Kojima’s post-apocalyptic vision, and we may see some of them brought to light on the big screen.