Why a Killer Deal to Turn the Hit Video Game Assassin’s Creed Into a Movie Has Shocked Hollywood

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Assassin's Creed Photo: Ubisoft

Last month, Variety reported that Sony will soon be signing a deal to adapt Assassin's Creed, Ubisoft's massively successful video game franchise. But Vulture has learned that this is no ordinary rights deal: With Creed one of the highest-selling modern game franchises (three installments have sold 30 million copies globally), Ubisoft was able to demand and receive an unheard of amount of control over the project. To make the deal, Sony had to grant the gaming company approval over just about everything — budget, principal cast, script, release date — and Hollywood spectators are flabbergasted. Notes one incredulous insider, “As a director, even Steven Spielberg cannot get this kind of deal.” And yet it's this very overarching power that may doom the project, as it has other gigantic video game movies. Notes one Hollywood talent agent who represents a smaller video game publisher, "The whole Ubisoft/Sony deal is a waste of ink, paper and time. The level of control Sony gave up means, effectively, that Assassin’s Creed will never — and I mean never — get made.”

Like Mario Bros. when its dog of a movie came out, Assassin's Creed is still huge. A fourth installment, Revelations (due out November 15), will likely sell millions of copies, and Ubisoft is feeling protective, even if a bad movie won't logically scar this monster. “It begs the question,” says one studio chief, “If they’re so afraid of what will happen to their franchises, why make a movie at all?”