- Key takeaways:
- Video game movies may not always succeed with critics, but if they appeal to audiences, they can still be financially successful.
- Some video game movies may have negative reviews but still become cult classics or gain a following over time.
- Financial success does not always correlate with critical reception for video game movies, as some underrated movies have struggled at the box office despite positive reviews.
Movies based on video games have risen in popularity over the years, but that doesn’t mean that they’re always successful at the box office. While many video game movies may not fare so well with critics, if they prove favorable to audiences, they have a fair chance of being successful financially. However, as some video game movies show, that is not always the case.
Since 1993, many movies have been adapted from successful video game franchises, but only recently have they reached success with critics. Some video game movies may fail with critics, but they may be able to hit the right notes with audiences. Others may be negatively received but do well at the box office and later become cult classics. However, some underrated video game movies have not done well financially, regardless of their reception from critics and audiences.
10 Alone in the Dark (2005)
Only grossed $12.7 off $20 million
One of several video game movie adaptations in the career of German director Uwe Boll, Alone in the Dark is based on the titular video game franchise, running since 1992. The movie stars Christian Slater as Edward Carnby, a paranormal investigator who tries to uncover the memories of his past while trying to deal with the supernatural. He must team up with his ex-girlfriend Aline (Tara Reid) if he has any hope of defeating the demons.
Alone in the Dark is often regarded as one of the worst video game movies of all time, receiving negative reviews for its miscasting, poorly written script, and weak special effects. When it was released in theaters, it didn’t fare well with audiences, earning only $12.7 million out of its $20 million budget. In recent years, however, the movie has gained a cult following among video game players and has become a movie that has achieved “so bad, it’s good” status.
9 BloodRayne (2006)
Only grossed $3.7 off $25 million
Another video game movie directed by Uwe Boll, BloodRayne looks at the story of Rayne, a dhampir who is recruited by the Brimstone Society to overthrow her murderous father. She searches for the powerful talisman required to defeat her father and reclaim herself. The movie is labeled as a prequel to the 2002 video game.
Despite high-ranked actors including Ben Kingsley, Michelle Rodrigeuz, and Billy Zone in the cast, upon release, BloodRayne was not well-received. Out of a $25 million budget, it only grossed $3.7 million at the box office. However, despite its criticism, BloodRayne is often regarded as one of the best of Uwe Boll’s video game movies, containing decent action sequences that mirror the action of the original video game.
8 Far Cry (2008)
Only grossed $743,634 off $30 million
Uwe Boll has adapted several video games into movies. Far Cry is an English-German action film, based on the 2004 action game franchise. A special forces soldier is hired by a journalist to take her to a remote island to gather information about mutants; their mission is thwarted when the journalist is kidnapped and the soldier must rescue her.
Far Cry didn’t receive a warm reception from critics. Audiences were more accepting, calling it a ‘reasonably entertaining‘ portrayal of the video game franchise. Despite not even grossing $1 million at the box office, the movie has been regarded as an interesting and entertaining take on the action game franchise.
7 DOA: Dead or Alive (2006)
Only grossed $7.7 off $30 million
The 2006 adaptation of the popular fight video game, DOA: Dead or Alive sees the world’s greatest fighters travel to participate in a martial arts competition. Four female fighters start off the competition as rivals with different reasons for participating. But it isn’t long before they find themselves working together to deal with an unexpected threat to the tournament.
DOA: Dead or Alive received mixed reviews from critics, with many calling the plot atrocious and criticizing the action sequences. The movie ended up only earning $7.7 million at the box office with a budget of $30 million. However, not all reviews were negative, with some calling it an entertaining action movie with comedic performances from Jaime Pressley and Holly Valance; players of the video games have called the movie a fun adaptation of the franchise.
6 Doom (2005)
Only grossed $58.7 off $70 million
The Doom franchise is one of the most popular first-person shooting video games of all time. The 2005 movie shows a group of Space Marines being sent out to Mars to investigate strange events at their research facility. They soon discover that their research – and their lives – are being endangered by genetically enhanced killing machines that threaten to destroy their world.
This movie is notable for being one of the early movies of Dwayne Johnson’s acting career. The movie was negatively received by critics for its lack of character development and confusing story, resulting in the movie only grossing $58.7 million out of $70 million. However, Doom co-creator John Carmack has expressed his approval of the film and called it a solid action movie; a direct-to-video sequel Doom: Annihilation was released in 2019.
5 Double Dragon (1994)
Only grossed $4.2 off $7.8 million
Based on the popular arcade game, Double Dragon sees two brothers, Billy and Jimmy Lee, living in a destitute Los Angeles that has become a flooded hemisphere filled with acid fogs and drug lords. They own one-half of an ancient Chinese talisman while an evil millionaire owns the other. The millionaire schemes to claim the other half while the brothers fight to save their city.
Double Dragon received unfavorable reviews from critics, being criticized for its acting, storyline, and dialogue. The movie only grossed $4.2 million at the box office, missing its budget of $7.8 million. In more recent years, the movie has been regarded by viewers as a cult classic thanks to its over-the-top acting, action sequences, and special effects. It’s regarded by fans of the franchise as an enjoyable adaptation of the action video game.
4 Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001)
Only grossed $85.1 off $131 million
Adapted from the acclaimed Final Fantasy video game franchise, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, was directed by the franchise’s creator, Hironobu Sakaguchi. The movie is set in 2065 and Earth is invaded by Phantom aliens. Scientists, Aki Ross and Doctor Sid must work together in order to defeat the Phantoms and save the planet.
Upon release, the movie received praise for staying true to the characters’ original design in the video games, its creation of new character Aki Ross, and the musical soundtrack. Its CGI effects have been compared to those in James Cameron’s blockbuster Avatar. Despite favorable responses from fans and critics, the movie did not fare well financially, only achieving 65% of its budget at the box office.
3 Monster Hunter (2020)
Only grossed $44.5 off $60 million
Based on the Japanese video game, Monster Hunter stars Milla Jovovich as Natalie Artemis, a U.S. soldier, and her loyal team as they are transported into a new world inhabited by monsters. They must fight for survival against the monsters as they try to find a way to return to their home world. As she leads her team to safety, Artemis must learn what it takes to be a true fighter.
Upon release, Monster Hunter received a mixed reception from critics and caused controversy for its portrayal of Chinese stereotypes. It failed to make back its $60 million budget at the box office, only receiving $44.5 million. However, the movie received a nomination at the Visual Society Awards for its special effects and later became a hit when it was released on Netflix.
2 Super Mario Bros (1993)
Only grossed $38.9 off $48 million
This was the first live-action adaptation of a video game, which was released in 1993. Italian-American brothers, Mario and Luigi are working as plumbers in New York when they find themselves involved in a mission to rescue Princess Daisy from Koopa. The brothers are transported to a new world as they fight to save their new friend.
Super Mario Bros had a notoriously difficult production; actors Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo were open about their lack of trust in the movie and their dislike of the script. The movie was harshly reviewed by both critics and audiences, resulting in it only grossing $38.9 million. In the years since its release, Super Mario Bros has gained a strong cult following and has been regarded as a daring and comedic take on the popular Super Mario franchise.
1 Werewolves Within (2021)
Only grossed $991,898 off $6.5 million
One of the more recent video game movies, Werewolves Within, follows a group of people in a small town in Vermont. After being caught in a snowstorm, the group finds themselves trapped in a small inn. As the forest ranger tries his best to keep the peace, gradually everyone begins to realize that not everybody is who they appear to be.
Based on the 2016 video game, Werewolves Within did not do well financially, only managing to achieve just under $1 million at the box office on a $6.5 million budget. While it failed at the box office, the movie was well-received by critics and audiences, being praised for its characters, script, and humorous take on the original Werewolves Within game. It is currently the highest-rated movie adaptation of a video game, solidifying it as an underrated movie adaptation of a video game.