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Ubisoft Motion Pictures (UMP) announced this week that their planned movie adaptation of the award winning Assassin’s Creed video game franchise is moving forward with Michael Fassbender attached to star and co-produce.
Assassin’s Creed sees a bartender named Desmond Miles kidnapped by a clandestine organization known as Abstergo, who have ties with the Knight Templar. Abstergo forces Desmond to pilot a machine called the Animus back in time to relive the memories of his ancestors who all belonged to the Brotherhood of Assassins. The brotherhood was tasked with influencing the course of history through the murder of selected targets and retrieving historical artefacts.
The initial game in the Assassin’s Creed franchise took place during the Crusades with subsequent games taking place in the Italian Renaissance and the American Revolution.
The video game franchise has received overwhelming popularity amongst fans and critics alike, winning various awards such as Best Action / Adventure Game during E3 2006. The series has also been a financial success, selling over 38 million copies worldwide since the release of the first instalment in 2007.
Created in 2011, Ubisoft Motion Pictures is a division of Ubisoft Entertainment and is tasked with developing and adapting the company’s most successful, core properties to film and television. Although UMP is tied into a deal with Sony Entertainment, through agreeing to finance heavy portions of their projects themselves, they have managed to acquire full creative control for their properties. This means that the company has final approval rights over the script, casting decisions and release dates.
The industry suggests that UMP struck this deal with Sony as they were worried about film-makers ruining a franchise which they had spent years crafting, as has been the case with other game adaptations such as Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Hitman and Max Payne.
The company knows how much a poor movie adaptation can affect people’s enthusiasm and perception of a gaming franchise, a lesson they learnt upon release of another Ubisoft property Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. By retaining creative control they will be able to create a movie adaptation that stays faithful to the original tones and experiences of their properties.
Ubisoft Motion Pictures will further be responsible for attaching a screenwriter and director to the project, keeping production costs down by utilizing its own resources. It was reported last week that BAFTA nominee Michael Fassbender has signed on through his DMC film company to star in and co-produce the movie adaptation.
It is the addition of Michael Fassbender as the lead and co-producer that raises the most interest within potential audiences and gives the project a legitimacy that did not exist prior to the announcement.
Fassbender has broken out into mainstream Hollywood in recent years, impressing directors and critics alike with roles in Inglorious Basterds, X-Men: First Class and Prometheus. Earlier this year Fassbender was nominated for a BAFTA and Golden Globe for his role in Steve McQueen’s Shame, a role which saw the actor portray a successful advertising executive who struggles with a secret sexual addiction.
Ubisoft Motion Pictures CEO Jean-Julien Baronnet stated shortly after the announcement of Fassbender’s involvement that the he was always the studio’s ‘first choice’ and praised the actors’ skills, calling him an ‘extremely smart, talented, versatile and committed actor’.
Little else is known about the movie’s production as it is still in the very early stages of development, but it is clear that UMP have the opportunity here to finally create a brilliant movie adaptation. In order for the studio to achieve this, they must bring the quality of story and screenplay we have come to expect of the game franchise. The presence of Fassbender seems to be a step in the right direction for the newly formed production company.
Michael Fassbender will next be seen on screen in Steve McQueen’s Twelve Years a Slave alongside Brad Pitt.
Ubisoft Motion Pictures are currently also developing movie adaptations of some of their other core properties including Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon and an animated television series for Nickelodeon based on their Raving Rabbids franchise.