HONOLULU, Hawaii – When it comes to the Hollywood convergence game, Capcom’s partnership with Impact Pictures on the Resident Evil movies has resulted in the second biggest franchise for Sony Pictures behind Spider-Man. With a fourth movie, Resident Evil: Afterlife, coming to theaters September 10 in 3D, and big budget movie adaptions of Lost Planet, Dark Void, and Onimusha in the works, what went wrong (twice) with the Street Fighter movies? Capcom’s vice president of strategic planning and business development, Christian Svensson, talks about Capcom’s Hollywood game and confirms that the game maker has not abandoned the Street Fighter movie franchise in this exclusive interview from Captivate 2010.
Based on the fact that Capcom has had such success with the Resident Evil films, what do you think didn’t translate when it came to the two Street Fighter movies? You weren’t at the company for Street Fighter: The Movie, but you were for Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li.
Oh, my. There’s a book to be written there. This is where I have to be careful. Let’s just say there were a lot of people with different ideas as to what was the best route to take with that movie. A path was chosen, a result was had. I think there are some learnings internally that we’ve taken away from that experience. I think you’ll see some clever live-action stuff that will excite our fans at some point in the future, based on Street Fighter. Let’s just say that the book is not yet done on Street Fighter film and video projects.
Well, you get three strikes, so you have one more chance to get it right on the big screen.
Well, hopefully we get one right sometime in the future. There are more projects in the works.
I’ve heard from Hollywood insiders that one of the reasons we haven’t seen a Grand Theft Auto movie is because Rockstar Games doesn’t want a bad movie to negatively impact the game franchise. But with Street Fighter, the bad movies don’t seem to have any adverse effect on games like Street Fighter IV.
As long as the games are strong, the fans will be there. Certainly, the other part of this is we do have actually very successful uses of Street Fighter IP in comics and merchandise like Snuggies and action figures. I’d look at the movies as an opportunity missed, rather than anything that’s damaged us. If I were to give advice to the RockStar guys, not that they need any, I would probably look at it the same way and say, “Hey, as long as you guys keep bringing the goods, the fans are still gonna love you regardless of what happens outside.” It’s kind of a missed opportunity if you don’t start exploring outside our medium to expand your brand.
With Resident Evil, writer/director/producer Paul Anderson is an avid gamer, as is Ari Arad, who’s producing Lost Planet. When I spoke to the Hyde Park guys before Street Fighter came out, they didn’t seem to be gamers.
There were some gamers involved on that production team. I’ll take your opinion, but I know that there were some gamers involved in that production. The writer, in particular, was a very hardcore gamer and Street Fighter fan to boot. I don’t know that actually having knowledge of the product, and being a fan of the pasttime, always translates to having a good videogame movie, or the absence thereof doesn’t necessarily damn one from being good either. I think respecting the gaming medium, and maybe not even necessarily understanding it fully, can still be a viable path to a good videogame movie.
What impact do you think Jerry Bruckheimer’s Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time movie – which has a reported $200 million budget – will have on Hollywood if it’s a big hit? Could it get the ball rolling on more Capcom and other videogame films?
Well, Jordan Mechner, himself, has been involved in that production. I think that’s helped a lot. I know some of the other groups that have been involved in fleshing out the world, even during the pre-production stages, they’ve given it a lot of thought. Bruckheimer and company do extravagant, big budget action extravaganzas, and I think the game will lend itself to that. The Disney name helps a ton, as well. Do I think it’s going to push the reset button on gaming movies? Maybe, I hope so. I’d love to see a new high-bar set. I’d love to see a very successful, big budget, videogame movie pave the way for Lost Planet. I have high expectations for the production value with Bruckheimer. I have high expectations for gamer cred given Jordan’s involvement. But until I see it, you just never know.
What role do you see movies playing within the overall Capcom business model moving forward?
I think if you ask Haruhiro Tsujimoto, who’s our COO and President in Japan, the model he’s always put forward to us is the Marvel model. That is, Marvel’s business was comic books, but they have branched out and become a pop culture media company. I think that’s really the ultimate goal for Capcom in the long term. I don’t think it’s an easy path. It’s not an immediate path where this is going to happen, but we already do content expansion through a variety of media — novels, comics, and soundtracks. All of that fun stuff expands and adds to the universe. We’ve done a fair number of motion pictures, both large and small. We’ve had other motion picture projects in development for a very long period of time – Devil May Cry, Onimusha, Dark Void — some of which may come out, some of which never may see the light of day. That’s just the way Hollywood works. The goal is to be everywhere with your brand. Have your brand touch as many people as possible, but still be true to the fans ideally.