Will Jerry Bruckheimer's Next Big Action Franchise Be a Video Game?

Super Producer's MTV Deal Dovetails With Cabler's Plan to Invest Heavily in Gaming

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NEW YORK -- Jerry Bruckheimer's announcement this week that he will co-produce original video games with MTV Games prompts an intriguing question: Are role-playing games the new action movies?
Video games like 'Resident Evil' have spawned successful movie franchises, and now one Hollywood producer is getting involved with game making.
Video games like 'Resident Evil' have spawned successful movie franchises, and now one Hollywood producer is getting involved with game making.

Hollywood certainly has churned out a whole slew of video-game adaptations to varying degrees of success in recent years. For every "Tomb Raider," "Resident Evil" or "Hitman," there's been a misfire such as "Final Fantasy" or this year's appropriately titled "DOA" to prove that some plotlines work best when executed by a joystick.

Mr. Bruckheimer is hardly the only moviemaker turning to video games as another creative outlet. Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson and the Wachowski brothers are just a few of the Hollywood heavyweights trying their hands at game production.

Action empire
But the super producer seems uniquely positioned to build a whole subgenre of games out of his action empire. Mr. Bruckheimer has already turned one of his TV franchises, "CSI," into a successful series of games for Ubisoft, but his ability to translate his tried-and-true formula for explosions, car chases and irrelevant characters into video games has yet to be explored -- at least by him. It could easily be argued that hit franchises such as "Hitman," "Wing Commander" and even "Grand Theft Auto" had their way paved by Bruckheimer films such as the "Beverly Hills Cop" trilogy, "Bad Boys" and "Top Gun."

MTV Games is an interesting partner for Mr. Bruckheimer, following a banner year for the company's Harmonix unit, which turned "Guitar Hero" and its sequel, "Rock Band," into the breakout gaming hits of the year. MTV recently announced plans to invest more than $500 million on gaming development and distribution in the next two years.

The MTV family of brands has even more potential. A Bruckheimer partnership would be a no-brainer to cross-promote on Spike, MTV's male-targeted cable network. But as Bruckheimer broadens his production slate beyond action, MTV and VH1 also could pitch in by using their niche strengths to plug different aspects of his projects. His team's production of a big-screen take on "Confessions of a Shopaholic" presents one such possibility. Even CMT, MTV's country-music cable network, could get in on the action if the right project came out of the new partnership. After all, Mr. Bruckheimer did give us "Coyote Ugly" and that ubiquitous LeAnn Rimes soundtrack.

Time will tell whether MTV and Mr. Bruckheimer can change the way consumers look at video games as stand-alone entertainment. But if the plotline for his 2009 film "G-Force" is any indication, it could be something a tad different. "A specially trained squad of guinea pigs is dispatched to stop a diabolical billionaire from taking over the world" is how the IMDb description of the Nicolas Cage vehicle reads. "MTV Games presents G-Force: Hog Wild," anyone?
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