To say that big screen adaptations of video games have a chequered history is a bit of an understatement. Whether it is Bob Hoskins’ take on Super Mario Bros in 1993 or Angelina Jolie hamming it up as Lara Croft in Tomb Raider in 2001, it is difficult to find a movie based on a gaming franchise which really stands up to other major blockbusters. Recent efforts in the past 12 months have included the sixth Resident Evil film, The Final Chapter, and even Source Code director Duncan Jones trying his hand at epic fantasy with Warcraft. While these found an audience, they did not particularly set the world alight.
In addition, not even the immense talent of Michael Fassbender was enough to make a film version of Assassin’s Creed work either. However, all of this has not stopped film studios from examining how they can make the perilous video game adaptation work, with one of the latest rumours doing the rounds involving a possible big screen version of League of Legends. This is a fascinating idea as it would not just mark the release of another blockbuster, but also a huge opportunity for eSports to step into the mainstream.
A big deal
For the uninitiated, League of Legends is among the biggest games in the competitive gaming world and is played globally by millions of people. It is thought that a total of $41.4 million of prize money has been handed out to competitors at tournaments down the years and, like any major sport, you can even bet on the outcome of major matches. For instance, as of June 14th, mainstream sportsbook Betway were offering odds of 11/5 on Splyce beating the Unicorns of Love in the EU LCS Summer Split competition. It is clearly fair to say that League of Legends is not just a game, it is a major industry.
How could it work?
But while it is a major name in the gaming world, what are the genuine prospects of a film based on League of Legends being made? Back in June last year, there were some suggestions that the game’s developer Riot was looking at the issue, with one of the key catalysts being Warcraft’s success away from the US. In particular, its takings of $156m in just five days in China were enough to make the gaming industry sit up and take notice. However, any enthusiasm to get a film going based onLeague of Legends was tempered by further comments from Riot, in which they stressed it would only happen if it could be done properly.
All of this leads to the question of whether a game on the vast universe of League of Legends could really work. After all, there are more than 130 ‘champions’ currently available in the game, so where would a studio begin in deciding who to include in a film? Looking at the most popular characters could help and according to data from League of Graphs, these are Ezreal (picked 31.8% of the time), Lee Sin (29.7%), Thresh (29.3%), Lucian (28%) and Vayne (26.1%).
So, if you take those champions as a starting point, who could play them? Well, just to indulge in some wild speculation at this point, we’ve had a think about who should be cast in the roles, so prepare to be amused or hopefully impressed by some of the ideas we have come up with here. First up, we think that Lucas Till has the look and the acting chops to pull of Ezreal. We reckon his work on the McGyver reboot and his role in the X-Men franchise mean he could well be the man to bring The Prodigal Explorer to life. In terms of Lee Sin, we’re thinking someone fairly physically imposing in the vein of Dave Bautista or The Rock. However, the fact that the latter is known to be one of Hollywood’s highest paid performers means that could well be a push.
For Thresh the Chain Warden, we’re thinking this role could well mean plenty of motion capture and the only real way forward would, of course, be Andy Serkis. We think he could build on his role as Supreme Leader Snoke in 2015’s Star Wars The Force Awakens to take this character to a whole new level. Donald Glover is our pick for Lucien the Purifier, with the champion offering him the kind of kick-ass role we have not seen from him yet on the big screen. Finally, we are fairly certain that Mila Kunis would be able to bring all of the right qualities to Vayne the Night Hunter, too.
All in all, we’re fairly confident that a League of Legends film has major potential. After all, when you consider that a mindblowing 43 million unique users watched last year’s League of Legends World Championship finals there is a clear case to say that a movie would have a readymade audience waiting to see it. There is clearly a long way to go on this happening but it could well be the moment that eSports really enters the wider public consciousness. Oh, and the film studio just need to let us know if they need help with casting, too.