Video Game Movies: Enter the “Madden Curse”

Video Game Movies: Enter the “Madden Curse”

Movies based on video games haven’t been received well, but they’re not going to go away anytime soon. Movie studios, directors and producers seem adamant on experimenting until the formula is just right. So far, they’ve tried wildly altering the premise of a game to fit a script (Super Mario Bros.), turning a well-known franchise into a summer popcorn flick (Prince of Persia), and even catering to a small niche that walks into a theater armed with absolute knowledge of a game’s storyline and characters (Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children). Despite directors best(?) efforts, game movies offer C-grade plots and usually flop pretty hard in theaters.

So maybe EA has the right idea with its latest proposal: A film based on the infamous “Madden Curse.” The Madden Curse refers to the string of bad luck that supposedly trails any star player who poses on a box for EA’s hugely popular Madden series of NFL games. Of course, any misfortune that befalls a Madden model is coincidence (another variation of the superstition exists as the “Chunky Soup Curse”), but it appeals to the primitive bit of our brain that compels us to jump over sidewalk cracks and avoid walking under ladders.

In addition to the automatic fascination people wield over superstitions like the Madden Curse, EA’s plans to make the film a comedy might prove an interesting change of pace, as most game movies focus on overwrought adventure or drama (or, at best, adventure laced with snarky commentary). It’s been said every winter by a million game fans who sit heartbroken in the theater a year and a half later, but what the heck: “This could work.”

Or it might not. More likely, EA won’t be able to stretch the Curse thing into a full movie without killing it, or the end product will just prove awful. Even so, the idea gives one pause. Why are we so obsessed about movies based on games? Why not make more movies based on gaming culture and legend–

Oh. Scott Pilgrim. Right.

As far as any game-based movie goes, there’s not a huge audience out there willing to part with its money to see whatever psychotic variation a director might make on Mega Man. There’s an even smaller audience that wants to learn about what goes on behind the curtains in a game series–but that audience exists, regardless. If EA does go ahead with its Madden Curse movie, it might want to think about a limited release instead of a huge media blitz. From there, maybe directors will garner new ideas on what makes a “video game movie.” The King of Kong, for instance, was a great documentary about two men struggling for the top score in Donkey Kong (a battle still being waged today). And that’s just one story about video games and the people who play them. Not every video game movie has to be about guys shooting guns or other guys jumping really high.

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About Nadia Oxford
Nadia is a freelance writer living in Toronto. She played her first game at four, decided games were awesome, and has maintained her position since. She writes for 1UP.com, Slide to Play, GamePro and other publications, and is About.com’s Guide to the Nintendo DS.

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