Recently came the news that Kojima Productions and Hammerstone Studios are set to adapt company founder and celebrated video game designer Hideo Kojima’s 2019 game title “Death Stranding” into a live-action feature film.
The project aims to avoid the game-to-film adaptation curse that has resulted in so many great game franchises being turned into poor films, such as “Uncharted,” “Hitman,” “Assassin’s Creed,” “Warcraft,” “Doom,” “Tomb Raider” and more.
One way it’s doing so is not to adapt the property as a big-budget blockbuster, and instead go back to basics for something quirkier and more arthouse in nature that better fits Kojima’s style.
Another is that even though the story will be set within the same universe as the game, it will introduce and focus on new elements and characters. The project is being fast-tracked with development already well underway. No one has been set to write or direct as yet.
As part of a lengthy interview with IGN, Kojima spoke about how Hammerstone landed the script, rather than a more significant studio, precisely because it wasn’t trying to retool the project into something more formulaic:
“I was on video calls with lots of people in Hollywood every week beginning last year, and not just for Death Stranding. I received a lot of offers, but my intention from the start was never to make a blockbuster film.
Alex Lebovici from Hammerstone Studios shared my vision with regard to that. There were a lot of pitches to make a large-scale movie with famous actors and flashy explosions, but what good would explosions be in Death Stranding?
Making money isn’t something I’m focused on at all, either. I’m aiming for a more arthouse approach, and the only person who offered to make a film like that was Alex Lebovici, which makes me think he’s a rather unusual type.”
Lebovici, who also executive produced this year’s horror smash “Barbarian,” has previously indicated that this will be a ‘grounded’ film and an ‘authentic’ Kojima production. Kojima also spoke about why he thinks other video game adaptations have not worked and how to avoid those pitfalls:
“The failure of film adaptations of games from a while back has led to a lot of movies that cater to gamers, right? That’s why they have the same kind of look as a game. I don’t want the Death Stranding movie to be like that.
Rather, I’m taking the approach of changing and evolving the world of Death Stranding in a way that suits film well. I made Death Stranding to be a game, and games are games. There’s no real need to turn them into films.
So in a way, the Death Stranding movie is taking a direction that nobody has tried before with a movie adaptation of a game. I think that what I need to make is something that will inspire some of the people who watch it to become creators 10 or 20 years down the line.”
Kojima also revealed that he was working on a short film that he wrote but was shelved during the pandemic. This all joins the “Death Stranding” game sequel currently in the works.