Oh No, Not RollerCoaster Tycoon: The Movie

By  |  Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Hollywood continues to find inspiration in plotless video games, with Sony Pictures Animation picking up the film rights to RollerCoaster Tycoon.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the film will be a mix of CGI and live action. What the storyline will entail is unknown, because the game itself has none. Like many simulation games, RollerCoaster Tycoon is about building and maintaining the best infrastructure possible — in this case, amusement parks — not interacting with characters.

So let’s count off game-based movies whose plots are a mystery. I previously wrote about Universal’s plans to make a movie based on the arcade classic Asteroids. Since then, Warner has negotiated with Taito to make a Space Invaders film and is working on a Spy Hunter movie, and Fox is trying to get the rights to Missile Command. None of these games have more than one line of narrative or any iconic characters.

Ostensibly, the studios are interested in these movies because they’re low-risk. The utter lack of plot affords a blank canvas for generic spy drama, space opera or family fun, and the recognizable video game franchises automatically raise the profile of the films (Case in point: I wouldn’t be writing about any of them if they had nothing to do with video games).

But maybe these films are risky business after all. There’s no past experience to draw on here, as these are not traditional game-to-movie adaptations where the narrative is set and fan interest is a given. The studios are seeking production rights and starting development with no guarantee that people are going to buy the concept. It’s entirely possible that people will recognize these films as hollow attempts to capitalize on nostalgia and brand recognition, but no one knows, because no one’s tried.

So the question is, who goes first? I’m sure all the studios are anxious to see whether plundering plotless video games was a good idea after all.



4 Comments For This Post

  1. Ryan Patterson Says:

    Look at what Disney was able to do with the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. They took the amusement ride which had no story and no characters and created a very entertaining series of films. Of coarse I’m expecting huge flops from all the films you discuss in the article. But there is historical precedence showing there is a possibility of quality films being based on an empty franchise name in the Pirates films.

  2. Jared Newman Says:


    Good point. I’d argue that Pirates the ride has more of a narrative structure than any of the aforementioned games, but the film was clearly fleshed out into something greater.

    Still, Pirates succeeded in part because it was a great movie with an excellent character in Jack Sparrow. It’s worth noting that the Haunted Mansion film was a flop.

    I’m not saying these game-based films can’t be any good, but the brand recognition alone isn’t a guarantee of success.

  3. Backlin Says:

    Up next, the Sin City parody; Sim City!

  4. Chantal Terry Says:

    That sounds interesting. I love the game as I love constructing my own theme park. However, I wonder how a movie based on the game would turn out. Maybe interactive tv would be a better option, given that roller coaster tycoon is already a game and they could possibly build on the concept of the game.

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