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Plugged In

Inception: The video game?

Plugged In

Christopher Nolan might have the Midas touch when it comes to making movies, but he hasn’t had a lot of luck in the videogame arena. But that’s not dissuading the writer/director/producer, who plans to bring his hit film “Inception” to a console near you.

"We are looking at developing a videogame based on the world of the film, which has all kinds of ideas that you can't fit into a feature film," Nolan told reporters at a press conference in Rome, according to a report in Variety. "That's something we've been talking about and are looking at doing long term, in a couple of years."

The move makes sense. “Inception” has grossed over $750 million dollars at the box office since its release – and the film’s target audience lines up perfectly with the core gaming demographic.

But Nolan has tried to bring one of his movies to the gaming space before – 2008’s “The Dark Knight” – and it didn’t go well.

The game first missed a coordinated launch with the theatrical release, then failed to materialize when the DVD hit shelves. Ultimately, Electronic Arts cancelled the title after shutting down the studio that was working on it.

The world of video games is, of course, littered with forgettable movie-based tie-ins. The vast majority of those were rush jobs done by developers who were far removed from the film process, rarely (if ever) coordinating with the director.

If Nolan were to take an active role in the “Inception” game’s development, that would be an encouraging sign – but it would hardly be a guarantee of success.

Just ask James Cameron. The most successful director of all time worked closely with Ubisoft when that publisher was creating the videogame companion for “Avatar”. But when the game launched, it didn’t come close to mirroring the film’s success, failing to even crack the list of the top 20 best-selling games last December.

Atari had better luck when it worked with the Wachowski brothers on “Enter the Matrix”. Launching simultaneously with “The Matrix Reloaded” in 2003, the game went on to sell 5 million copies – but it was lambasted by critics and players, and future “Matrix” games weren’t big sellers.

 

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Mind bending environs from the film are perfect for games. - Getty Images

Other Hollywood directors have been able to extend their cinematic prowess to the gaming screen, though. Peter Jackson worked closely with Ubisoft to create the gaming adaptation of his “King Kong” film, a game that went on to become one of the premiere launch titles for the Xbox 360. And Steven Spielberg has worked on non-movie related games with Electronic Arts -- including his “Boom Blox” puzzle games -- that have gone on to become critical smashes.

 

 

More recently, developers at Disney Interactive Studios worked closely with Pixar on the video game version of “Toy Story 3.” That game became one of the most lauded movie tie-in titles in the company’s history.

Nolan’s not the only celebrated director expressing interest in exploring the game world these days. Guillermo Del Toro, director of the “Hellboy” franchise and “Pan's Labyrinth,” is said to be close to signing a deal with publisher THQ to work jointly on “games that are going to be technically and narratively very interesting.”

Like Nolan, del Toro has an artistic vision that’s distinct from the rest of Hollywood. Gamers are wary, having been burned by too many bad Hollywood tie-ins already, but hopeful that the magic the directors bring to the big screen is something they can deliver to the consoles as well.

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