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A Live-Action Destiny Movie Would Be A Mistake

Sony didn’t acquire Bungie for $3.6 billion just because it wanted a piece of that Eververse money. With Bungie, Sony gets a strategic partner that can help it achieve a foothold in live service – a segment of the industry Sony is keen to grow over the next five years – while also providing Bungie with the means to expand Destiny into a multimedia franchise – something Bungie has wanted for Destiny for a long time. In an earnings call Q&A this week, Sony CFO Hiroki Totoki said that Bungie can now leverage Sony Pictures and Sony Music to grow Destiny beyond games. Specifically, Totoki referenced turning Destiny into a movie.

It’s not an official announcement, but there’s no doubt Destiny will have a big (or small) screen adaptation – it’s just a matter of time. Sony is well on its way with several video game adaptations like Uncharted, The Last of Us, and Ghost of Tsushima, and Bungie hired Riot’s director of animated shorts to be the head of development for Destiny universe transmedia this week. We know it’s coming, we just don’t know what it will look like.

Sony is no stranger to live-action video game movies. Besides Uncharted, Sony also distributed last year’s Resident Evil: Welcome To Raccoon City and Monster Hunter. Sony also has an inhouse animation studio, Sony Pictures Animation, which produced The Angry Birds Movie 2 and Into the Spider-Verse. There’s also Sony Pictures Television, which produces a wide range of TV content across almost every network and streaming service. The most notable recent shows from Sony Pictures Television includes The Boys, Cobra Kai, and The Wheel of Time.

Bungie could go in any direction with Destiny, but Sony definitely has the most experience with live action video game movies. This would be the worst possible outcome, however. We don’t have to look far for plenty of evidence that Destiny is better off staying far away from live-action – and live-action films, in particular.

Bungie’s other creation, Halo, has an upcoming live-action series that is already getting dragged for the way it looks. Fans are calling it low budget and comparing it to a cheesy Syfy channel show. Of course, Halo is not a low budget production – not by a long shot. Production costs are estimated at over $40 million. A fraction of the budget for an MCU movie perhaps, but still nearly twice what Sony spent on Resident Evil: Welcome To Racoon City.

The problem is that no matter how much movie the Halo series invests into realistic Warthogs and flashy CGI, it will never compare to the distinct visual style of the games. The Cortana in the show would seem off-brand even if she was the right shade of blue. ‘Good’ video game movies avoid the comparison altogether. That’s why Sonic is running around Montana with the local sheriff instead of bouncing off springs in Green Hill Zone. Of course, a Destiny movie would need to replicate the look and style of the game in the same way Halo does, but it would certainly run into a lot more problems with verisimilitude.

Nothing looks like Destiny, that’s part of its appeal. There isn’t a single location that looks anything like the real world. Even Earth has been twisted and terraformed by hundreds of years of space-magic influence. To recreate the many planets and locations of Destiny, you’d need to create an entire virtual world on the level of Avatar.

But nailing the visual style of Destiny is just the first problem. The real issue squeezing the expansive story into the feature film format. We’ve seen how poorly Warcraft translated to the big screen. Boiling Destiny down to 120 minutes would likely have the same result.

Following the success of Arcane, animation seems like the best medium for Destiny. It would allow the filmmakers to maintain the game’s aesthetic and create scenes that would never work in live-action. The structure of a series would also allow for longer fleshed-out stories that could do all of the world-building and character development necessary for a Destiny adaptation, just as Arcane did for League of Legends. As much as I’d love to see Lance Reddick play Zavala in real life, live-action just isn’t equipped to do Destiny justice.

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