Dead Island is a pretty mediocre zombie game. The console version currently holds a 71 rating on Metacritic and has already prompted videogame essayist Tom Bissell to draft a Why-Videogames-Suck-Now mini-manifesto over at Grantland. It’s especially disappointing since Island had such a dynamite trailer — you might remember it from back in February. Lionsgate has officially optioned the Dead Island film rights, and curiously, a press release from the studio mostly just talks about that preview: “Told in a stark, non-linear fashion, the wrenching trailer captured worldwide fan attention and unanimous critical praise upon its debut, receiving over one million hits in its first 24 hours online, and nearly 10 million views by two days after its debut…The trailer went on to win the Golden Lion in Cannes at the International Festival of Creativity, the advertising industry’s highest honor.” The fact that Dead Island the game has sold over two million units since its early September release is mentioned as an afterthought.
But it gets more interesting: The press release also indicates that “the trailer will serve as [the movie’s] primary creative inspiration,” noting that the Dead Island movie will “focus on human emotion, family ties and non-linear storytelling.” The press release even quotes Lionsgate’s co-COO Joe Drake: “Like the hundreds of journalists and millions of fans who were so passionate and vocal about the Dead Island trailer, we too were awestruck.” Left unmentioned in all of this is that the trailer had nothing to do with the actual game — besides introducing the zombies-on-an-island concept, which is admittedly pretty cool, although Cowboys & Aliens also sounded pretty cool when your stoner friend made it up in college.
We’ve seen movies based on action figures, board games, and public-domain fairy tales, but this seems like the potential start of an entirely new trend: Movies based on commercials. Haven’t you ever really wanted to explore the mythology of the Google Paris Romance commercial? Wouldn’t you like to see Michael Bay pull an Alfred Hitchcock and remake one of his earliest works, the “Got Milk” commercial? And I’m being serious, I would actually watch a feature-length version of Michael Mann’s “Leave Nothing” Nike commercial, but only if some hotshot studio executive forces the filmmakers to add in aliens and/or Blake Lively. Oh, and if someone could make an actual good movie out of the 300 trailer, that’d be pretty cool, too.
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