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From Console to Screen: Exploring the Best Video Game Adaptations

Written by Fathom Events on Feb 09, 2024 12:52 PM

It’s hard to imagine what the world would look like without the video game industry; a once humble niche created in research labs by scientists has exploded into a $180 billion industry with 3.26 billion gamers worldwide as of 2023 [1]. The captivating worlds, rich stories, iconic characters, and overall uniqueness of games have created some of the strongest franchises in the entertainment space.   

Over the years, Hollywood has adapted some of the most iconic gaming franchises for the big and small screen. This trend started in 1988 with the adaptation of Namco’s arcade game, Mirai Ninja (Cyber Ninja). The direct-to-video film became an instant cult classic, setting off the video game adaptation craze that has taken the world by storm in recent years. 

To celebrate Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete coming to North American theaters for the first time, we leveled up and dove into the top video game adaptations that made it to the big screen.   


5. World of Warcraft  

World of Warcraft, aka WOW, is the most successful MMO (massively multiplayer online game) ever created. Developed by Blizzard Entertainment and based on the Warcraft Universe (the first game being Warcraft: Orcs & Humans in 1994), the game launched in 2004 and saw roughly 129 million players actively play the game [2]. WOW was a revolutionary game, reinventing the niche MMO genre and bringing it into the mainstream.    

The success allowed Blizzard to create expansions, developing an avid fan base. Hollywood saw the opportunity to bring this world to life in the film Warcraft (2016). Although not a critical success, it was an instant hit among fans, becoming the 3rd largest grossing video game adaptation of all time with $439 million at the box [3].   

World of Warcraft will continue to be a juggernaut of a franchise in the gaming space, and more adaptations will come as the next generations of gamers discover this classic.   

4. League of Legends  

Inspired by Defense of the Ancients, a custom map from Blizzards Warcraft III, Riot Games developed the greatest MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) game in history. League of Legends is a free-to-play game that became one of the largest online games ever created as players jumped into summoners rift for the first time. Abbreviated LOL, the popularity brought e-sports into the fold, creating some of the most iconic teams: Team Liquid, TSM, Cloud9, and SK Telecom, whose players became celebrities overnight. Fun Fact: Fathom brought the League of Legends – North American Championships to theaters nationwide in 2015. 

The power and impact of League of Legends on the gaming community is so strong that Netflix created the wildly popular television show Arcane in 2021 based on League of Legends. The first season shattered expectations, introducing new fans to the franchise and reigniting players’ nostalgia.   

Praised for its animation and storytelling, Arcane is getting a second season this year and continues to be one of Netflix’s most-viewed series. 

3. The Last of Us  

The post-apocalyptic action-adventure game The Last of Us (2013) is a game series that garnered universal acclaim from critics and players upon release, selling over 38 million copies [4]. The game had such a following that HBO adapted the franchise into the Max series of the same name in 2023.   

Starring Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey, the TV series became an instant hit, winning 8 primetime Emmys® and being rated one of the top television series of the decade [5]. Much like Arcane, The Last of Us explored a rich story, introducing new viewers to the franchise while satisfying players (who could dig into the story and figure out the easter eggs).   

2. Super Mario Bros. 

Recognized as a powerhouse in the gaming industry, Super Mario Bros. started as an arcade platform game released in 1985. Now, the franchise is worth a whopping $55 billion and has been adapted into several movies. The first adaptation was the live-action 1993 film, Super Mario Bros. Movie.

Starring John Leguizamo and Bob Hoskins, the film was considered a financial flop on release. The dark and bizarre themes and the now infamous production did not sit well with audiences. However, the film gained a cult following over the years, becoming an instant classic on TV and streaming platforms.  

The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023) shattered box office records, becoming the highest-grossing video game adaptation of all time [6]. Starring Chris Pratt, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Day, and Jack Black, the movie steered away from the 1993 live-action film, keeping it animated and exploring the rich world of Mario.  

1. Final Fantasy 

Arguably one of the most influential RPGs (role-playing games) ever created, the Final Fantasy franchise started in 1987 as Square Enix’s flagship game. The game’s turn-based combat, extensive dungeons, and medieval themes became instant classics, allowing more installments to be made.   

Widely accepted as the greatest installment of the franchise is Final Fantasy VII (1997). Adopting an active time battle system, the game’s popularity exploded as players embarked on an unforgettable journey, discovering iconic characters such as Cloud Strife and antagonist Sephiroth. The impact of Final Fantasy VII on the gaming community was so strong that this installment was turned into a movie, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete in 2005.   

The film explores what happened after the events of Final Fantasy VII, as Cloud Strife looks to uncover the cause of the Geostigma disease and the origins of the 3 mysterious men who are kidnapping and brainwashing children. Fans fell in love with the movie and continue to revisit it over the years.   

Final Fantasy VII is a fan favorite of the franchise, so much so that the installment continues to evolve for a modern audience. The newest game, Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth, is slated for the end of the month. 

Press Start to Continue

With more studios adapting the colorful worlds found in video games, it’s safe to say gamers will be able to relive their favorite franchise on the big screen. 

Don’t miss your chance to see Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete in US theaters nationwide for the first time February 21 & 22 (SUB and DUB) PLUS arrive early for a short film featuring new interviews with the FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH development team and ADVENT CHILDREN creators alongside action-packed gameplay from the game. 

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