With games being a prime target of film studio execs for source material, it was only a matter of time before Epic Games' Xbox 360 hit Gears of War began its walk down the road to becoming a movie.
Variety is reporting today that New Line Cinema has acquired the movie rights to Gears of War. Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey will produce the film, which is being written by Stuart Beattie (Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, Collateral). No more details of the movie have been released, including crew and release date.
Gears of War, published by Microsoft Game Studios, has won several Game of the Year awards since its release last November. As of mid-January, the game had sold more than 3 million units worldwide.
The next task for the film is to actually get made. Several high-profile movies based on games are still in limbo but slowly moving forward, with Sony working on bringing Metal Gear Solid to the big screen, Jerry Bruckheimer bringing his brand of action to Prince of Persia, and Warner Bros. affiliate Legendary Pictures working on a World of Warcraft movie. Others, such as the big-budget endeavor to bring Halo to the cineplex, have stalled completely.
[UPDATE] Since the announcement, GameSpot has confirmed the report with Epic Games vice president Mark Rein and more details have surfaced. New Line is targeting a summer 2009 release for the game, and Variety predicts that a Gears of War sequel will be timed with the release of the movie.
The trade magazine claims Epic has crafted "an extensive backstory in hopes of utilizing it for a film as well as potential novels," despite criticism of the guarded storyline of the first game.
"We wanted to make an entertainment property that's not just for games but for other media," Rein told Variety.
Screenwriter Beattie's involvement with the project didn't come over a high-priced meal on Sunset Boulevard, but with a simple message sent over Xbox Live. Beattie told Reuters that while playing Gears of War one night, "This New Line exec Jeff Katz dropped me a message in my Xbox Live account saying, 'If we bought the game you're playing right now, would you write it?' And this was back in December. It shows you how on-the-ball New Line was. I'm going to write off my Xbox Live this year, accounting-wise."