The former CEO of Ubisoft Motion Pictures is opening a new studio that will specialise in adapting video games into films.
Jean-Julien Baronnet, who produced the upcoming Assassin's Creed feature and worked on four other projects for Ubisoft, told film trade Variety that the new company, Marla Studios, hopes to begin development on its first project by next year.
Marla Studios - named after Baronnet's daughters - will be staffed by Hollywood and video game creatives alike, and work directly with developers to get the most out of screen adaptations.
"Producing a video game adaptation is a special process that not only requires movie production know-how, but also a deep understanding of gamer values and the video game creative process," Baronnet said.
“Marla Studios will help the video game companies consecutively in three areas: determining, along with the video game companies, the artistic angle and the artistic package that will serve best the IP; negotiating with the Hollywood studios a contract that will give the game company a strong creative control and high pay back; and last, but not least, implementing a deep collaborative process with the key creative people at the video game company at each stage of production.”
The company believes it will "finally make a success of the video game adaptation into film," by recognising both game designers and players in the adaptation process.
"[Gamers] spend hundreds of hours in that world. That makes it essential for the ‘universe’ of the game to be as accurate as possible," Baronnet explained.
But while the world-building has to match the games, Baronnet said that films' stories have to "have a universality to them" to reach general audiences, stating that merely replicating games' plotlines is "exactly what should not be done."
Video game adaptations have historically fared poorly with audiences and critics, with the recent Warcraft film's abysmal 29% Rotten Tomatoes score actually sitting near the top of the pile.
Baronnet left Ubisoft Motion Pictures earlier this year, replaced by Gerard Guillemot (brother of Ubisoft CEO Yves).