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A Video Game Movie Will Win an Oscar, Former Ubisoft Films Boss Predicts

"Why not?"


Video game movies have a track record of mediocrity or worse, but eventually one will break through and win an Academy Award. This is according to Jean Julien Baronnet, the former CEO of Ubisoft Motion Pictures who recently quit to start his own video game film company.

"Why not?" he told GameSpot about a video game film adaptation winning an Oscar.

Michael Fassbender in Assassin's Creed
Michael Fassbender in Assassin's Creed

Baronnet left Ubisoft in April and founded his new film company, Marla Studios, only a month a half ago. In that time, he's gotten a peek at some video game film projects in the works--and he's been impressed by what he's seen.

"I was astonished by some of them," he said. "The creative angle, the production design, the artistic choices, the originality. Yes, definitely I think that maybe one video game movie can win an Oscar...if it's properly done."

Some video games tell stories about themes such as free will, human nature, exclusion, and discrimination--these are things that transcend video games that non-game players can relate to. So it's entirely possible that, if executed the right way, a video game movie could win an Oscar, Baronnet argues.

"You have a lot of themes that are very strong and universal... that could be a potential for a beautiful movie that wins an Oscar. I totally believe that," Baronnet said.

Baronnet also told us that he believes there are three pillars to making a good video game movie. First, the right creative choices must be made to ensure the film rings true to the DNA of its source material. Second, the owners of a video game license must negotiate with film companies to have strong creative control and to protect the script from changes a studio might want to make to suit their needs. And third, Baronnet stressed that representatives from a video game studio should be involved in a film's production from the very beginning to ensure that, if deviations from the source material must be made, they are done so in a way that keeps the essence of the brand intact.

Before leaving Ubisoft, Baronnet negotiated the movie deals for five franchises: Assassin's Creed, Splinter Cell (which has Tom Hardy signed on), Ghost Recon, Watch Dogs, and Rabbids. Michael Bay is producing the Ghost Recon movie; a Far Cry film is also on the way.

This year's Assassin's Creed, which stars Oscar-nominated actor Michael Fassbender alongside Oscar-winners Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Irons, opens in December. Assassin's Creed head of content Azaizia Aymar believes it could break through and become a hit.

"There is always a first," he said in May.

Taking over for Baronnet as head of Ubisoft Motion Pictures is Gerard Guillemot, the brother of Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot.

Check back with GameSpot soon for lots more on our conversation with Baronnet, including his thoughts on Assassin's Creed and what he hopes his film company can achieve.

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