In this ugly economy, what type of idea could possibly net a multi-million dollar movie option? Answer: A video game. Last fall Variety reported that Universal scooped up rights to an Electronic Arts video game based on Dante’s Divine Comedy. Now, the trailer for said video game has just emerged–and Universal’s sight-unseen bid, that once seemed foolhardy, now seems sapient. As you’ll see above, the trailer is pretty awesome.
Of course, there are doubters and haters: Variety notes that seldom have video games sold their movie rights so early in the process, while New York magazine notes that Universal could have easily just made a movie based on Dante’s poem, since it’s hundreds of years old and in the public domain. But both those analyses miss the point completely. First off, EA has most likely invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the development of this game. For a studio like Universal, that’s beautiful: Why invent a universe from scratch when someone else has invented one for you, investing countless man hours and hiring the world’s best art directors and promoters? Better to piggy-back on the buzz and marketing, and take advantage of a built-in audience. (A hedge-funder would call that mitigating the risk.) Which goes to prove that New York is being particuarly dunder-headed: Universal isn’t paying for Dante’s story, they’re paying for the might and resources that EA has invested. We can’t wait for the video game–or the movie. CK