It’s not unusual that a movie studio options a book before it’s published. Especially if it’s a well-known author or a story with some sort of early buzz because it’s part of a franchise or based on a well-known event. But as far as I know, that’s never happened with a videogame. Instead, a game comes out, some sequels get made, lots of people buy them, and eventually Hollywood is all, like, “Huh, what, marketing groundwork already laid? Built-in opening weekend audience? Let’s make a (modest) deal!” Then several months later a Max Payne or Assassin’s Creed movie tanks at the box office. Worst case scenario, Crackle plops a Dead Rising movie online.
But Variety reports that it went a little differently today. A minor studio called Gold Circle Entertainment bought the rights for We Happy Few, which isn’t even out yet. It’s a successfully Kickstartered currently early access game by a bunch of veteran Montrealer developers gone indie. To its credit, We Happy Few has a unique sense of style. And by unique, I mean indebted to Bioshock without being slavish. That’s not something you find very often in videogames.
Gold Circle has been around for a while, and their success comes from stumbling into a couple of accidental hits that appealed to underserved female audiences. The first was My Big Fat Greek Wedding back in 2002. The second was Pitch Perfect back in 2012. Pitch Perfect — which is a very very good movie whether you’re a dude or a chick — is a commercial juggernaut for Gold Circle. The sequel — which is a very very bad movie whether you’re a dude, a chick, or even a Pitch Perfect fan — put it on the map as an Official Franchise with its $70 million opening and eventually a 10-to-1 worldwide return on its production budget. A third Pitch Perfect is in the works, adding the awesome Ruby Rose to its already awesome cast. With actors like these, who cares if the movie sucks? I can say this because it’s been several weeks since I suffered through Table 19, which I saw because Anna Kendrick, Lisa Kudrow, Craig Robinson, and Stephen Merchant were in it, so who cares if the movie sucks? I’m nearly over the trauma.
Obviously Gold Circle is casting about for new properties. Someone figured maybe this We Happy Few videogame might do well, so let’s get it while the getting’s good. The average internet reader will take this as an announcement that a We Happy Few movie is ON TEH WAY!!!1! But that’s not how these things work. Variety is just announcing a deal has been made. The majority of these deals do not result in movies. It’s unlikely a We Happy Few movie will ever see the light of day, much less a theatrical screen projector. But if We Happy Few 2 does well, it just might get handed over to some hapless European director as his entrance fee into the Hollywood creative mulcher. So stand by for news of a potential announcement concerning the early stages of what could be a possible We Happy Few movie sometime in 2020 or so.