A screen grab from Gears of War.

Why the Gears of War movie adaptation can’t be fully faithful to the game

The popular third-person shooter is getting the big screen treatment, but the game’s development director tells fans to expect deviations from the original story

One of Microsoft’s biggest video game exclusives, the Gears of War franchise, is getting adapted for the big screen.

“We have a partnership with Universal Studios and Gears of War is getting a movie,” franchise development director Rod Fergusson announced on a Gears of War 4 live stream recently.

Rather than focusing on the story or characters of any one Gears of War game, the film will instead pull concepts, characters, and plot from the games to create something entirely new.

A screen grab from Gears of War.
“The thing about the way you do a movie like this, you have to realise it’s a different medium with a different audience,” Fergusson says.

“If you were to go in and say it’s going to be 100 per cent faithful to the game canon, or the story of the game, what’s going to happen is it’s not going to be the best movie. What we’re going to focus on is making the best ‘Gears’ movie possible, as opposed to one that’s closest to the games.”

In a world where every game series, from Double Dragon to Super Mario Bros, has its own film, it’s surprising that the beloved Gears of War video game franchise doesn’t already have a series of silver screen adaptations.

Gears of War is bristling with iconic characters and locations.
The game’s already got iconic characters and locations – given the series’ focus on chainsawing man-sized aliens in half, it’s not exactly known for its cinematic storytelling. It looks like the film adaptation, which is still in pre-production, will aim to fill that missing component.

“There’s a lot of source material to pull stuff out of, but you have to make a movie story,” Fergusson says.

He also addressed the mercurial nature of these video game to film projects – frankly speaking: many are optioned, few actually get made. Microsoft spent years trying to make a movie based on its popular Halo video game franchise, to no avail.

“We’re still early,” he says. “I’m not announcing a director, I’m not announcing a writer. We’re still early in pre-production, working through that stuff, but the fact that we’re locked into a partnership, we know a movie’s gonna happen, it’s just a matter of making it.”

There is no planned release window for the Gears of War film; the newest game in the series, Gears of War 4, launched last week for both Xbox One and Windows 10-based PCs.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Gears to carve own cinematic chaos