An official press release from Legendary Pictures last evening has announced that the development of the BioWare video game Mass Effect for the big screen is now underway. This is the official announcement that follows months of speculation and interest from Hollywood about the very popular game franchise.

The game, for those of you who aren’t already aware, is “an epic science fiction series takes place in the year 2183 and follows Commander Shepard of the SS Normandy who leads a team on a mission to defeat an ancient alien race that invades the galaxy every 50,000 years, wiping out all organic life. The most recent game in the series, Mass Effect 2, was released in January of 2010, and earned rave reviews from critics worldwide.”

The premise is ripe for the picking — it’s a potentially large action film and it has an environmental preservation twinge. It’s a lot like Avatar, but with humans and aliens that are far more intimidating. Producers are currently in talks with Mark Protosevich (I Am Legend, Thor) to write the screenplay. They are also talking up the franchise as being a perfect fit for Legendary, which has produced such hits as The Dark Knight, 300 and Watchmen in the past few years.

“Mass Effect is a tremendous property ripe for translation to the big screen,” said Thomas Tull, Chairman and CEO of Legendary Pictures. “Mass Effect is a prime example of the kind of source material we at Legendary like to develop; it has depth, compelling characters and an engaging back story. This coupled with Avi and Ari producing and the skills of a great team adapting the screenplay, are the start of turning this smash videogame based property into a successful feature film.”

“We are thrilled to be working with Legendary,” said producer Avi Arad. “EA and BioWare are terrific partners who have created a brilliant piece of fiction with a universe filled with amazing aliens and technology. More importantly, though, they created a parable whose conflicts mirror the ones we currently face in our own world. This story emphasizes the need for all cultures to learn to work together. All this magic is presented in a fast paced action-adventure that makes for the best kind of movie experience.”

As video game adaptations go, this one will be interesting. So many of the major game franchises — the likes of Bioshock and Castlevania — have been in development for years. It’s slow going though, as many video game to film adaptations do not succeed. The upcoming Disney release of Prince of Persia will be yet another test of the viability of the genre this coming weekend.

What do you think of a Mass Effect film adaptation?


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