The Super Mario Brothers Movie made $1.36B at the box office, shattering records and solidifying the power of gaming IP on the big screen. Transmedia across TV and Film is an active growth strategy for many gaming companies, and a high number of works are in the pipeline as Hollywood looks towards games as a fertile ground for untold stories.

Alexandra Takei, Director at Ruckus Games, hosts Roy Lee, producer of films like the LEGO Movie, IT, and LEGO Batman. He is slated to produce Microsoft’s 2025 Minecraft Movie, God of War TV and film properties, a Bioshock film, a Shadow of Colossus film, and more. What is the deal-making process for gaming adaptations? What price are studios willing to pay? How much should studios be involved? What games lend themselves to being adapted, and what makes an adaptation successful? We cover this and so much more in today’s discussion.   

We’d also like to thank Nexus for making this episode possible! Nexus’s creator program in-a-box makes it easy for game devs to build and manage a world-class creator program, driving significant growth in conversion, ARPPU, retention, and LTV. To learn more, go to

This transcript is machine-generated, and we apologize for any errors.

Alex: What's up everyone, and welcome to the Naavik Gaming Podcast. I'm your host, Alex Takei, and this, of course, is the Interview and Insights segment. So games, as of late, have taken Hollywood by storm.

It used to be that game publishers had to beg Hollywood to make a movie out of their IP. But oh, how the times have changed. The Super Mario Bros. movie made 1. 36 billion at the box office this past year, and was the highest grossing film based on a video game just one week after release. In the past two to three years, especially as gaming has claimed its throne as one of our globe's leading entertainment industries, a number of video game intellectual properties have been adapted for the big screen, some of which include Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog, which made around 400 million, Naughty Dog's Uncharted, also around 400 million, Capcom's Mortal Kombat, Resident Evil, and Monster Hunter at 83, 38, and 42 million respectively, and of course Nintendo's Detective Pikachu at 450 million at the box office.

Across TV, there's even more of course, CD Projekt's Witcher series on Netflix and Cyberpunk's Edgerunners, HBO's roaring success with Naughty Dog's The Last of Us, League of Legends, arcane series, and a myriad of others. Some of my favorites being Castlevania, and I have some very high anticipation for the Devil May Cry series.

It's a huge part of AAA studios evolving strategy. For example, Sega in 2024 goals Has spoken openly about reinvigorating Sonic with a new movie, a new season of Sonic prime on Netflix for their series, as well as a spinoff Knuckles TV series. So today's episode is going to be focused on bringing video game IP to the big screen, how, when, and for how much.

And also what a successful adaptation even means. And of course, as per usual, I'm not the expert here. I have a guest who has a lot of experience building these adaptations for real on air with me today. I could not be more honored to welcome Roy Lee, a vertical entertainment producer on titles like the Lego movie, Lego Batman, it, the death note, live action film, Nimona, which is one of my favorites on Netflix.

Roy is slated to produce 2025's Minecraft movie, A Bioshock film, a God of War film, a Shadow of Colossus film, and more. So welcome to the podcast, Roy. It's a pleasure to have you.

Roy: Thanks for having me.

Alex: So I'm super excited. This is a big trend in our industry. It's new and old all at the same time, but one of the first steps towards creating a truly transmedia property.

So before we get started, you're a bit different than the most of the guests that we have at Naavik, who are more, whose backgrounds are more in the gaming industry. And so I'd love for you to tell me and our audience a little bit more about you and your journey into filmmaking.

Roy: Yeah, I was a formerly a corporate lawyer at a DC law firm and was there for about less than a year, decided it wasn't for me and wanted to get into film, TV or music and came out to Los Angeles from DC and got a job at a film production company that had a deal at Universal Pictures.

And from there, I was there for four years. Learned how they put together movies and thought that it was something that I could do myself and left there and set up a couple of movies. The first one being The Ring and then followed up with The Grudge. A lot of them were Asian horror remakes, but now all of them, some were like a cop thriller, like the departed or romance, like the lake house or a family adventure, like Eight Below.

So there, those are all based on Asian properties. And after doing about developing about 25. Different Asian titles making 18 of them. I branched off into other areas in terms of different IPs, starting off with the Lego property and Stephen King books and being it and the Lego movie. Since then, I've recently been focused on trying to find a great IP in the video game world, starting with Minecraft and the God of War was actually, it's going to be a TV series ordered by Amazon and then things like Shadow of Colossus.

And that's the movie, but various properties is that. Just in the stages of developing right now. It's definitely been something that all the studios have been focused on more so than in the past, just because of the comic book movies are primarily with Disney and Warner Brothers with DC and Marvel and all the other studios want to build out their universes.

And in video games are the best fertile ground to find this type of idea.

Alex: I see. Yeah. And that makes a lot of sense. And I love the opening of your work on The Ring and you were saying The Departed and 8 Below. I'm not a huge horror movie person, but I've definitely seen The Departed and love The Departed and 8 Below.

So it's very cool to see like where Hollywood is tapping into gathering its stories from, and especially in the Korean filmmaking space, bringing some of that to the West has been also a really big trend that we've seen, obviously with things like Squid Game and a bunch of other things. But to games, speaking to games specifically, it's been this just major awakening of all of this, like you were saying, untapped intellectual property.

And I would love to talk about what games Are good for adaptation, but before we go there, I would love to understand a little bit about your background in games specifically, and also as a producer, just for our audience, tell us a little bit about what a film producer does, and then also tell us a little bit about why you feel particularly compelled to bring Video game IP to the screen, maybe you as an individual versus the market as a film and TV producer.

Roy: It's more like, the architect of a film project, each film being like a mini building because they're self contained. And you just have to. Find the, I guess the source material and then put together the financing to find the screenwriter and then the director. And then once you have that, you put together the budget and make the film.

I typically work in studios as opposed to independent filmmaking. So I've worked with Warner Brothers, Netflix, or places like that. And they just look to me to find the type of films and TV that can appeal to a wide audience. And so for me, Maybe it's, it can come from anywhere from video games or books or articles or just original screenplays from people.

So it's just my job is to find something that can just be attract a great director and a great cast and put together the movie or TV show that the studio's willing to make, and so my days are just either. Looking for new material, assessing them, or developing the material that we have and trying to put it together.

Alex: Yeah, I think from my classic cinema school teachings cause I had some background in 35 millimeter film production at film academy in USC. I was told that the producer's role was the overseeing of the creative triangle of the director. And the cinematographer and the PD. So the production design, is that the way that you still think about your job today?

Or is that just an incredibly outdated perspective?

Roy: You have to think of lots of other things in terms of even just getting the movie greenlit, like thinking of like the marketing approach of them, of what you're trying to put together, at least appealing to the marketing side of the financier of the studios, in order to get a movie made that it has to appeal.

To two sides of the studio system. It's like the marketing and the creative because the creative is the one that we actually develop the story. And then the marketing is like how they're going to be able to sell it to the audience.

Alex: Got it. Okay.

Roy: So it's like they're trying to find the projects that can appeal to those and then find the projects that gets them.

The actors. And so it's not just like the filmmaking process of the D and the director. That's one aspect, but it's also, if you don't have a big star or somebody recognizable or in something that marketing side, there's just lots of different factors that go into getting a movie.

Alex: Okay. Got it. So TLDR, you have to convince people that this thing is going to make money.

And you also have to assemble the actual how of. The movie itself in the film process. Got it. All right. So you're perfectly equipped to tell us all about the bringing a video game IP to the big screen or to the television screen, big screen being a silly way to say, I guess, movies versus TV. But I think we talked a little about this fertile seed of, Ground for new IP in video games.

And I think a way I want to start discussing that is that what games are have good potential for the big screen in the same way that readers and writers like might remark that not all books are meant to be movies. I think many people in our industry don't think all games are meant to be movies or television series.

And so when you're analyzing a gaming IP, Are there specific criteria that you're looking for? And do you think that every game can become a movie or a TV show?

Roy: In some ways, I think any game could be adapted. It's just a matter of what the inspiration of what the writer and the director have that can convey that story or just tell it in a way that Is different or sometimes the same because it's like Minecraft has no story.

And so it's like creating a story within that world. Whereas the last of us had a story that they followed that you could add on things. So it's just like most things, as long as you have a great screenplay and the director that, that sees the vision in it, anything can be adapted. But it's just whether or not it's faithful or just inspired by the IP or the video game itself.

I it's just like the book. I don't know. The, an example of that is like the book Adaptation of the Orchid Thief. That was a totally, it wasn't the book, but it was its own thing, but it was still the adapted from it. So same way that a video game could have some sort of. Different story told or a side story told of it or just like straight out patient.

So it's hard to say it's just like the more popular the game is, the more likely that studios would want to try or somebody would want to try because it's tapping into an audience that already exists to give them something that they may want to see after they play the game or just it's just. It's hard to say exactly what can or cannot be, but most things can, you could try.

Alex: Yeah. And you mentioned this, you gave two examples, Minecraft having no story and the last of us have an incredibly robust story. And to me, those are like almost like these like binary aspects, right? Where a movie like Mario movie, and we may have talked about this earlier in our kickoff call, but the Mario movie has like very limited story.

And so therefore you're, the filmmakers are left on their own. To make a story out of a game that doesn't have one, right? And The Last of Us, they're like following a pretty close narrative script and trying to be quote, faithful to the game. And so the way that I think about games, that there's sometimes stories that are directly being told in the game, and there are stories that are not being told so directly.

They're either discovered or pieced together or left honestly entirely to the fan fiction imagination of a player. And so when you're hunting for a story to tell in a video game, How do you, you said it's hard to know, but how do you, are there certain signals that you look for, like hooks into world building or the characters that signal that this could potentially be successful?

And when that person writes that screenplay, right? Are you collaborating very closely with them on changing it? Or are you more going through scripts that other people are working on? Right. If that makes sense.

Roy: Every project's different, but just in general, like when we're, at least when I start to develop something with a film, like a screenwriter on, based on a video game property, I try to pull myself out of the video game itself and just not think of it as a video game and let the writer Do it as much or as little of the game to adapt as possible as they want, as long as they love it and they want to still adhere to the canon of it and not just use the title just to write whatever they want to write, but just follow some sort of storyline that, or at least.

That's faithful to it while I'm trying to look at it as like the audience member who doesn't know anything about the game and just wants to see a great movie or TV show. And so if you have somebody that loves it and is trying to do as close as possible to it and is somebody like myself, who's just analyzing it from just like a general audience point that we could probably the hope is to make something that appeals to both sides.

Alex: Yeah. And that's a really good point. It's like when you're too close to a property, sometimes you get your head like stuck in the sand. And it's almost like the idea that you can't remove yourself from being knowledgeable about the backstory, about the characters. And I think you can see that in some films.

I spent some time at A long time at blizzard and we made the warcraft movie and let me tell you like that movie is a little bit indecipherable unless you have some background on the warcraft franchise beforehand and working with someone like you you'd be like hey i have no idea why this character is doing any of this what am i missing here and that kind of makes it appealing to a broader audience like

Roy: I felt that way with assassin's creed as well i hadn't played the game and it was like i was having a hard time understanding some of the things that were happening

Alex: Yeah makes total sense And I don't want to get too much into like characters and detail and things like that because I want to really talk about the process of making a video game adaptation.

But I know that you mentioned that you might be working on a Bioshock title. And I found that to be really interesting because without going into too much detail, the majority of the gameplay know, gameplay or gamers will know that there's a lot of challenges or it's a common thing in games to have a silent protagonist.

and games where the character fills that protagonist by taking particular actions and acting as that character. And how do you think about character development for a property whose main protagonist is largely being scoped by how a player behaves and not something that's already preordained or pre written into the game?

Roy: That one specifically, we did have, he's not silent in the movie and he is a real character and it did take some Liberties that were being made, choices that are made to make the story work. And, but it does deviate a little bit. So it's just one of those things where we try to follow the story as much as possible and give our main character enough to there to be a real character in this type of movie.

Alex: And I guess like the Bioshock was just an example. Cause I think there's like a lot of there's choices, right. And I think the Witcher is the same where there's choices in the game that indicate the character that Geralt. Is and actually in a lot of Japanese games, for example, there are completely silent protagonists persona.

5 has a silent protagonist named Joker. And so it's like, how do you create a character out of that is owned almost by the player? And then they're seeing it rewritten in a way that they wouldn't have been.

Roy: Yes, it's a balance that you have to make and give the main character enough. Of just like dialogue and actions that you'll still have the characters, the side characters that bounce off and he bounces ideas off of and talks to, but it's definitely not the same experience as in the game, but it will follow the story as much as possible with some liberties taken to make it work as a movie.

A lot of times the game companies understand that you can't just follow, that nobody wants to just see the game recreated in just a movie form. They want to see something that makes sense and works as a different, in a different medium.

Alex: Yeah, makes sense. And so maybe that's a perfect segue to start getting and talking about video game adaptations and the how.

And so we're going to break this into two parts. The first is how do the deals come together? And two, what is the actual production process like in terms of tech and the working relationship between the film house and the game developer? So the first point on how deals come together in the past, as we had mentioned in the beginning of the episode, Mostly from the AAA perspective, five to ten years ago, game developers approached and paid film studios to turn their IP into a movie for marketing.

And I know that today it's the reverse. We got connected through one of my Stanford classmates, and he's like, what movie should I, what game should I go after to make into movies? And so, First, confirm or deny, do you guys feel like it's a bit of a flip where Hollywood is really approaching a lot of studios or is that just something that we're seeing in like an outer layer text that's actually not true in terms of how deals are coming together?

Roy: Oh no, it is absolutely the studios chasing and producers chasing the video game properties to try to get them to agree to doing it. Most times with the AAA games like Grand Theft Auto, they just have no interest in doing anything in another media because they make so much. It on the games. There's no reason to jeopardize that by making a movie that could fail and hurt the ip.

And so a lot of the bigger games, they don't want to, or it's like they have to be convinced in doing it. And like a lot of times the corporate heads don't want the de developers distracted because they want them focused on the games and the upside. For a movie is pales in comparison to the upside of a huge hit on it in the video game platform.

So a lot of times I actually, when you say that the game companies would approach the studios to make a movie, I've actually never heard that before. I've always known the studios approaching them. And a lot of times it's not in the early days, not giving great deals, not giving you enough controls or approvals from the video game company.

But now. It's definitely reversed where the game companies have a lot of tools. We get Bibles or like things that we can or cannot do. And some of them are really long, like 50 pages of just like, these are the things that you have to adhere to or and yeah, it's also different from each. Game studio that sometimes the developers want to be involved.

They want to know everything. Others they do is like, just, we'd like to get the headlines of this is the outline and we'd like to comment, but that's your expertise, our expertise is games, so we'll tell you when something is completely off that we think doesn't work, but it's different for each one, depending because it's just like the personalities of each developer.

Alex: Sure. Yeah. And I love the Bible thing. Blizzard was like that, right? Or we also was just like with Diablo, right? They're so protective of the characters and Lilith and the story. And it's, oh, you can't make, you can't budge an inch without knowing Blizzard, knowing what it is that you're doing. And you're perceiving this like Mickey Mouse level guidebook on what Mickey can do, what can Mickey can wear, what Mickey, where Mickey can step or where he can walk.

And so I would, I'm actually would love to talk a little bit of more of that. about that later in the episode in terms of the working relationship between film producers and the studio. But to go back to your other point around the distraction around focus, right? That's definitely a huge thing. It's like we're game makers.

We don't want to be distracted by making a film. Can you tell me a little bit about the Process of approaching a game studio and maybe we can use one of the movies that you're slated for as an example to walk through.

Roy: Yeah, the approach is basically calling up the company and saying, would you be interested in developing your game into a film and TV?

Sometimes you just get a no right away. Other times like, yeah, let's talk about it. And I'm just, I'll just use the example of what I'm in right now. I'm not going to say the game itself is a huge game, but they're like, yeah, we've been approached, but we just haven't heard a good take that we've liked. And we've been over the years, we've just heard it.

And so what I would do is, okay, fine. Let me just come to you with a take. And if you like it, we could have more of a conversation. If you don't. Then we'll just walk away. And so that was the approach I took and brought them a filmmaker and pitch them a take. And they're like, wow, that was completely different than what we've been pitching the past.

We've heard 25 different takes from other writers. And this is the first time we've heard something that we actually can see what the movie worked and it actually works for us. And so. We want to move forward. And so then that process is now they, the game developers are coming to LA and writer and director come meet with them to hone the pitch, to be exactly what they would approve, because it wasn't exactly what they wanted and also wanted to guide the future versions of the game.

And so then we would then work on the pitch. We haven't gone out with it yet, but then in a few weeks, we then take that pitch to. All the different studios to see what type of deal structure we can get it with each one, because each time you go to a studio, if you just go with 1 place, you may not get the best deal possible.

But if you have multiple bidders, you can get the terms as you want, because a lot of the deals fall apart. Have fallen apart in the past because a non starter or at least an important deal point that everyone wants is like any type of new IP that's created in the movie or television show has to be able to be used by the game company in future versions of the game royalty free, as opposed to having to pay a license for each one, because the studios made the movie and we own that IP.

So you have to pay us to use it in the game. And that was a big hurdle that had to be overcome, even with Bioshock, like that's the same thing. Netflix, if they didn't agree to saying anything new created in the Bioshock movie can be used in Bioshock 4 or Bioshock 5, the deal would have been dead. And it took a while, but that was the last deal point that we had.

So that's just the process of developing the pitch, first getting the permission to come together with a take. And working with the developers to do something that they really loved and then pitching out to the different possible studios, meaning like the Warner brothers, Sony and Netflix and Amazon. So we will know in the past, it's worked out very well where there's multiple bidders and you can get the deal terms they want.

And it's I just have a fun time doing that. It's the one that I'm in the middle of right now is for Outlast, where it's like the, we have a script and we're just like ready to just shop it around. 100

Alex: Wow, that's awesome. And I think that's super interesting, that specific deal point, right? Because I think from the video game standpoint, and the developer, you'd say, okay, if I'm trying to make a truly transmedia property, I should be able to take what's in, these things should connect to one another, right?

So if the movie is in between Bioshock 3 and 4, there, we, it could be useful to recall and point to Something that happened in a film to create to make sure that these things are actually symbiotic and they connect and so I that's really interesting deal point that I hadn't actually really thought of and so it sounds like the process is you go out, you find a script and a writer and then you go and you pitch yourself to a game developer and then they and you decide, okay, we're in this We're in this horse and buggy together, and then you go pitch to studios.

Roy: And so that's how I work right now, but other people producers do it differently. But that was the approach that I tell people that the game companies that, that it worked out really well. So actually at this point I get approached by game companies with their IP saying, can you want to try to do something like that for me, find a writer and come together and develop the pitch and then we take it out together.

Because like for a lot of times in the past, the game companies. Would sell the rights and then the studio or the producer would work on their own, write the script, do the movie or do the whole process with giving limited access to the game company of what the movie or TV show is going to be, which has been disastrous in the past.

And so now it's, I just tell people it's so much easier if you work hand in hand and if they, especially if they want to do something or they're open to it. And I tell them sometimes if I'm Approaching the game company and they're the ones that are a little bit resistant. I was like, you could be involved as little or as much, and you could actually gauge how much you want to be involved based on the process of seeing the outlines and seeing the script.

And you could give notes, or you could just say limited notes, or you get detailed notes. So it's just the process that I.

Alex: Yeah. And it sounds like we've started talking a little bit about the working relationship. And so maybe what I'm gonna do is we're gonna, we're gonna jump there and we're gonna go back because I really would also love to understand premium price point you guys are willing to pay for these IPs and also how some of the secondhand revenue splits are being done down the line.

And maybe you can obviously talk about those at a high level, but speaking to the working relationship, it sounds like in the past games, Video game movies were made in a pretty non collaborative way. The filmmaker took it and the game developers weren't involved. And right now, for example, you're working on a Minecraft film slated for 2025.

What is the day to day working relationship with Microsoft? Are you working with?

Roy: Yeah, they are completely involved. Like the executives and say, like they actually had director approval, the script approval. So it was just like all across the board that everything was approved by Microsoft and the Mojang team.

And that's an example of a place where they've mixed directors that the studio wants. It took a long time to get to something that everyone agreed upon to make that movie.

Alex: I see. And so basically it sounds like you almost have a daily relationship with the Microsoft team. They're watching every

Roy: Everything.

Alex: Eyes everywhere. Okay. Interesting. And do you feel that there are specific aspects that you want them to be involved in? Maybe that sounds like you said they had final call on the script. Do they have final cut, for example? Do they have

Roy: They just have the director approvals and that's where I've seen deals fall apart actually is when they want final approval over everything, including scripting green light authority.

It's just like, once the reason why it's like a studio could spend millions of dollars in development and like a game company could say, Oh, we don't want you to make it. And then that's just all money down the drain. But as long as they've approved the process and it gets to a place where it's like all this money's been spent that like they can't shut the whole thing down just because they don't like a certain thing that happens

Alex: And it's not

Roy: What the game companies Happy because there's no benefit to having a game company not want to support the movie or TV show, but with how it's marketed to the public.

Alex: Yeah, it sounds like it's very much like they don't necessarily, they want key players, a director or such and such are visionaries people. To be involved in the process, but they aren't necessarily involved in the filmmaking production process. So for example, when you guys go to shoot the Minecraft film, will there be a Microsoft person with you on set?

Roy: For example, there will be, but one of the, because one of the, some of the Mojang executives are producers on the movie too. So they will be

Alex: I see. Okay. Got it.

Roy: So there'll be that one instance is very specific, but some other times it's not. It's, it just varies from project to project, depending on whether or not the studio wants, the game studio wants to devote their executives to spend that much time on it.

But Minecraft being a huge property in a video game that makes as opposed to a smaller title that's just being developed.

Alex: Sure. Yeah. And I think we often make this statement, like in games that the Hollywood companies don't know how to make games and the art form is so meaningfully different skills, different creative minds, like you shouldn't even try.

And we've seen a lot of Hollywood studios attempt to make games to maybe like meager or middling success. Warner Brothers, they obviously, actually, they just had their very big hit with Harry Potter, but in the past, Disney and Warner Brothers have struggled to make games that are as colossal as like an Activision Blizzard or Take Two, and the best case scenario that we've always said is, oh, license your IP, To a true DNA game maker and let them run with it.

And from my point of view, I think that from the gaming side, we should probably give the same leniency to the filmmakers, right? Oh, we don't know. We're a game making studio. We definitely don't know how to make movies. Let's work in collaboration, but this is your roadshow. And here's the IP and move out of the way, because otherwise you're just bogging down the process, but it sounds like you actually enjoy really collaborating with these studios, depending on the kind of project.

Because you want to make sure that the things that they've hold, they're holding sacred or respected, and you want to make sure that the company is excited about where the project is going.

Roy: Also, because no one knows the game property better and the fan base better than the game company. So the developers, so it's.

Essential to know what works, but sometimes they could get a little bit too in the weeds on things that don't really make that much of a difference. And those are the times where you have longer discussions as to why things have to be different than what the game can or the game qualities are that are changing.

Alex: Yeah. And that makes a lot of sense. I bet. I know things that come to mind would be like actor selection where you're like, this doesn't really matter, but they're like really into which actor it is. And okay. So I want to repipe back to process of getting this done, right? You found the screenwriter, you found the story, you're going around and you're And when you approach that game studio and you're like, Hey, like you have an IP that I would love to make a movie off of what kind of premium price are you guys willing to pay for these IPs?

And how do you come to the conclusion on the number for what you're willing to do?

Roy: That’s where it's the market dictates it because sometimes the There'll be reasons why they would want to go at one place over another. And it's like, there's no, just like every house has a different price. And it's just like what the market will bear.

It's like, for example, sometimes like Sony would have an upper hand. In getting some deals for adaptation, because they have PlayStation and the PlayStation network, they could guarantee when the movie comes out that it'll get fun, like prime placement on the PlayStation homepage and to increase the sales, which is very important to the game company.

And so then they would have more of a reason to make that deal with Sony then with. Say Paramount that doesn't have anything like that, where the Paramount may have to add, offer more money for the deal, as opposed to suddenly being like, we'll guarantee you this. And we'll give you this much money for the rights and like the revenue sharing of the movie or TV show.

And although I've also seen a lot of times the game companies have are. Now seeing what Nintendo did with the Super Mario movie, where they co financed the movie, that now a lot of the deals that are coming through on the game company side is we want the option to co finance these movies. And I just saw how much Nintendo made, but it does come with the risks of not every movie is going to be as successful as the Mario Brothers movie.

And if you invest a lot of money and it doesn't work, you're going to not see any returns on it. But that's why a lot of times the game companies want the option to do that.

Alex: And also you're talking about Nintendo, but like Sony is a little bit of a unique beast because they also own so many gaming properties themselves.

So God of War, for example, PlayStation exclusive, one would presume that when you would approach a studio, you're approaching Sony. And you're not approaching Paramount.

Roy: Yes. And no, because they don't have any TV network itself and, or it just like a streaming platform. So it was, that's going to Amazon, but it's still Sony being the studio below underneath it as the, Production company or the production entity, but Amazon is where it's going.

Alex: Distribution. Okay. Yeah. And I guess I forgot that Bioshock, you were saying is it's going to be a TV series, not Netflix, but it's potentially branching off.

Roy: And that's also why a lot of the games are. Are appealing to the streamers or the other studios that don't have a big universes of DC or Marvel that the games you can create a universe where you could do film TV animation on just the game itself that are all intermixed with each other, basically creating a universe for each game.

Alex: Yeah. And actually that brings up a good question. How do you decide whether or not something should be. Animation or live action.

Roy: It's like the preference for me is always just live action, but that's mainly just because I can't come from a more of a live action background, but it's a lot of times the animation could go quicker and they could just do like a TV series that, that just goes a lot faster.

And once you make the decisions, you go that way. And so a lot of times you'll see, I've been seeing a lot of deals, like even cyberpunk or soon to be Dave, the diver, where they'll make an animation Prior to a bigger deal, but they'll hold back the live action rights to be able to shop them because there are going to be major differences between an animated series and a live action movie.

Alex: Oh, I see. I got it. So they're making an animation film.

Roy: I think the game companies see the animated series being marketing or helping in terms of marketing of whatever game they have.

Alex: I see. Okay. Yeah. And that makes a lot of sense. And I guess that was my question, right? For something like David Diver or something like Zelda, right?

Where it's the game itself is a little bit more into the ACG. So cartoony art style, maybe a studio themselves might say, Hey, I don't want this. I want our film to be animated, not to be live action. And they would choose a certain script over another because of that preference. Have you seen that happen?

Roy: Yes, absolutely. Everyone, every project's different. Each being completely like like inside was one that I was thinking of trying to do, but we can never crack that one. And it was like, do we make it do an animated version or yeah, it's just, nothing is the same in terms of like how each process goes.

Alex: Got it. Yeah. And I was about to ask you a question going back to licensing fees. I was like, let's play a fun game. If you had to rank from low to high. Okay, so like low being like it would cost a not a lot or you'd have to play not a premium price point and high being okay premium. How much would you have to pay for the following titles that I believe don't have films or TV shows in the works, but I obviously might not know, but like something like an Apex Legends.

Is that low or high?

Roy: I will know that's in the process now. So it's right. It's too early to say depending on whether it goes film or TV, it's different. I can just tell you like the low end deals go from a royalty payment of 1, 000, 000 and some sort of revenue share of the movie, which is like maybe a few percentage points on the after breaking even to one deal, even though it fell apart was a royalty payment of 130, 000, 000.

And that was on what you would consider the highest level game, but

Alex: I see

Roy: It just varies. And that was also during the peak of the streaming wars, where all the streamers were compete against each other to get the biggest projects, which probably at this point would not Be close to that. I'd probably maybe 20 million for a royalty payment to adapt it and then a revenue share.

But yeah, I'd say one to 20 would be the right one.

Alex: It's what I arranged. Yeah. And I bet it also is a lot of very much impacted by the success of the end virality of the game as it is now, because I was going to ask you a little bit about what about monopoly go, which is just the biggest mobile game right now.

Almost right. And a monopoly is obviously a property that's owned by Hasbro. Would you. Approach scopely and Hasbro and make a Monopoly go game and how much would that be premium based on

Roy: To do that, just because they've been developing it as a feature based on the board game for the past decade. I think it was really Scott was the last director that is attached to it, but I.

Could be mistaken, but they're, it's already in development somewhere because it's just before the actual video game itself.

Alex: Got it. So TLDR, all we're learning is that everything is in development somewhere by somebody. I have a question for you at the end of this episode that I'm not realizing might be impossible for you to answer.

You talked about the revenue, me and MG upfront being one to 20 million question that I might have before that is actually the option.

Roy: It's like an option payment. Then if they green light the movie, the option would be for an 18 month period for them to develop it. And if they green light it within that time period, then they pay the royalty, the license fee.

And then once it's released or once it goes on TV and they have some sort of knowledge of what a backend would be and then a payment there.

Alex: I see. Okay. So you have the incubating period for 18 months, the option to green light, then you're paying some sort of like upfront minimum guarantee.

And then there's a backend structure to the deal. And I think that's where my next question was going, which is how much secondhand re engagement do you guys incorporate into the deals? An example that we saw with the witcher foot was that an explosive TV series can drive Box sales unit engagement for the mainline game.

And so do you guys as filmmakers ever strike deals where you see a cut of that? It sounds like you go the other way around where a game maker is going to see a cut of the movie profits. Do you guys ever take profits back from the in-game, micro transactions or the box sales of the main game?

Roy: I've seen that be a deal point that the studios have tried to latch onto in terms of added sales of the game, and that was shot down very quickly and , non-starter that could kill a deal that they would agree.

I've seen it where they agreed to merchandising based on the movie being a revenue share, but not the actual game itself because that. And which was actually a very interesting situation where the TV series actually had nothing to do with the game because that was based on a book. And so Netflix got the rights to the book and bypassing the game company.

So the game company only benefited from the increased sales, but they had nothing to do with the TV show.

Alex: Oh, interesting. Oh, I actually didn't know that. And I guess that does make sense because the Witcher is based off of a book. There's too many, there's too many properties here. It's too, there's a board game and the bookmaker and the game maker and the movie maker and the TV series maker.

There's too many things to keep track of. But I was just wondering, because I think that's a lot of the way that we talk about, Transmedia being for games is driving back re engagement to the main product. And the same goes for Arcane where I think you had some experience and exposure working on Arcane as well.

But the idea being let's expand the League of Legends universe and potentially maybe some of those people will become League of Legends players. And as the animation studio or the filmmaking studio, do you try to wrap your arms around That profitability, which it sounds like you struggled to do.

Roy: Yes, no, it's difficult.

Yeah. Arcane is, they made it mostly for the fans and the fact that was just a different situation where they're the Netflix deal was just a platform for them to get a wider audience that turned out to be much bigger, but like that all their short films that they make, those are just for the fans.

I guess that they use that technique to make arcane and arcane. Planning to do more, but I guess later this year, the second season or next. Yeah.

Alex: I'm very excited. So I'm a big fan, but okay. So we talked a little bit about how an adaptation comes together. The process of creating the deal, the structure of the economics of the deal and the working relationship between the producer, The game developer and even then the film studio itself, the production.

And I want to ask, actually ask a little bit about some of the technology that you'll plan to use in making movies, especially for video games, given the 3d realms and power of a, of an engine like unreal five and. We talk, we know that the Mandalorian, for example, had some filmmaking that was done in UE5 on the volume stage.

Can you tell me a little bit about how the film industry is thinking about using gaming technology to create film making properties?

Roy: The technology changes so rapidly that it's hard to say this is what they're going to do. I know that they use this as tools to visualize what the, how they're going to shoot movies.

And, but it's like using as a tool that's constantly evolving. But at this point, I don't see them using the actual game engine for the movie itself, but they it's, but at some point it will be possible, but it's just constantly changing. So the filmmakers, themselves also have their own way of wanting to shoot with some directors like to use film and some lead is digital.

So it's, everything's different in terms of the taste of the filmmaker and the studio itself. And like some studios have more tech based things like Sony would, because they have their own electronics division where Paramount wouldn't. And so it just different each time.

Alex: Do you, Is there anything you individually are very excited about in some of the technology that you're seeing for your own films that you might make in the future?

Roy: It's the for using the assets that were already here. So for it with Bioshock, it's almost like, We were saying that the video game was like the 1. 0 version and the movie is going to be the 2. 0 version of that when you see it in real life. So it's like being able to take the assets and just enhance them and make them look more of a live action movie.

So it's things like that is, is I find appealing just because you could see something just like that. You're really impressed when you saw in the video game, but you'll be, and I guess Minecraft the same waves. People have their mind blocking us. And then when you see it in fully realized live action, it's going to be like, I can't wait to see the kids when they first see the trailer of what this, what it's going to look.

Alex: Wow. Yeah. Even I'm really excited. I am definitely been wondering in my mind what live action blocks look like. So I think that's really cool about how you're able to start with something that was already in a 3d world. And like you said, enhance it. And. I guess maybe that's helpful from the visualization standpoint.

Do you actually see if there's any cost benefit to that? Is the film that you're making less expensive because you're starting there? Or does it not really have anything to do with the actual budget?

Roy: No, because we still have the VFX houses that have extremely high costs. Maybe AI is going to help offset some of those costs in the future, but it's not there yet.

Alex: Okay. Yeah. And you said the AI word. How about AI? Is that impacting your ability, the filmmaking process today across the lens of you said VFX, but all the way to writing? I know that there's been a huge, outlash or backlash from writers in the community saying that AI is now writing their scripts and taking away from the innate creativity of the original creators.

Roy: No, I haven't seen it in terms of any writing because unless the writers do it themselves without telling me that's their thing. But I just based it on the scripts that were handed to me by, by the writers themselves, but on the VFX and that technology, I've been seeing demos of things that are coming up that are going to do huge savings.

And it's like the thing to watch for. And I think in the next, Few weeks you'll see a trailer for a Tom Hanks movie directed by Robert Meki that is fully AI generated versions of Tom Hanks from a teenager to an old man that wow. Looks incredible. And it's gonna, it's possible that could change a way of doing the VFX on movies, especially with people and be able to adjust their looks and their, just, their acting abilities and just like the, just change the way that they reacted to something.

If you wanted to, using ai. With the actor's permission, of course, and they have to know everything and approval from them and what else was there? And just not that it matters in terms of technology, it's in terms of what you're talking about. It's like for storyboards and when we storyboard movies, I've seen now the programs where we put the script into a program and get works of art for each storyboard that can be adjusted by the director that is going to totally affect the way the storyboard.

Industry is gonna work.

Alex: Yeah. And probably even again, their speed of production on the storyboarding process instead of having

Roy: seconds as opposed to a person spending a lot of time making.

Alex: Yeah. I'm like, picturing the Walt Disney factory of everybody drawing everything and that just being like, okay, done in 3 seconds.

Yeah. Wow. I think that some of that stuff

Roy: Is going to affect the video game industry too, because I imagine that it's going to help. Yeah.

Alex: Some people, it'll, and I think it will impact us whether or not we like it or not. Okay. So we talked a lot about the how, and now I do want to talk a little bit about the route to success and what success in the adaptation world means to you.

So first is more of a question and we talked about the working relationship between a film house and a game studio and the production studio for you. It seems like it's incredibly collaborative, but would you ever recommend that a game studio make their own movies in house? So just basically say, Hey, we're going to go and make our own thing in house.

Maybe what Riot did where they bought a studio and they made Arcane in house.

Roy: If they could afford it. And I don't know, distribution wise, no, yes. If they could afford it, and they can, yeah, I would say like maybe if they wanted to, which it's actually happened with some where they would commission their own scripts and then come back with a script that they want to shop.

That absolutely, that guarantees the idea of what movie they want or TV show they want is what they're, what they present to the potential distributors with the studios or streamers. That's a great way to do it. But a lot, it's still could be very costly and development wise. So I wouldn't say that's the best course.

It's like working with the studio is probably one of the better ways because studio incurs all the risk and has the expertise on that and the, but the actual filmmaking itself, I would not suggest that to many video game companies to make their own movies just because there's so much that goes into it and like the studio system and everything is built for it and there's experts in every area and it's just.

The same way that you said before, you wouldn't suggest that a movie studio just making their own video games.

Alex: Yeah. TLDR, stay in your lane. You can write the script, but after that, give it to somebody who has domain expertise and can go shoot it in terms of the way that you'd recommend the most successful way to making adaptation.

And then I guess right now you're obviously slated to make Minecraft and a litany of other titles. What do you think is going to be success for you in these? What criteria do you look for in either the partners or your audience or the internal production studio? Obviously a big indicator of that is box office dollars, but are there other things that you're looking for that indicate that this was a success?

Roy: Yeah, to me, it's just like the, I don't know if the Rotten Tomatoes score would be, it's like the audience score is what is high audience scoring. What I want is like some of the things that where people 25 years later would be like, I saw that movie and I loved it and I still remember it. And it's, I hope that's the case with movies like the Lego movie or the ring or the departed where it's just they just have, cause there's so much content being made, movies, TV shows, short forms.

And this is At the end of the year, after digesting all of it, you only remember a small portion of those, and a decade after, it's even less. And so I just want to create something that has a lasting impact on things. And a lot of times if it's a successful movie, you'll see sequels, but it's like something that has staying power.

Alex: Yeah. And one thing that struck me is, and you've mentioned this earlier in the episode, is that your audience isn't only The hardcore fan base of the game itself, but something way broader. And do you think about the success of the film being making even the hardcore fans happy and also making the broader audience happy?

Cause I think what could potentially happen. And again, the example to the Warcraft film was incredibly successful in China amongst hardcore Warcraft fans, but sat terribly with critics in the West and the general audience who was confused Almost 100 percent of the time. I admittedly was also incredibly confused.

And so how do you rock those two things where one thing could be very service to a very hardcore niche group versus the broader audience?

Roy: Yeah, I, for me, it's like a balance between both. I just think appealing to both audiences and. So that you have enough there for the hardcore fans to be like, yes that worked for me.

And then for the wider audience of that as a movie itself, without even having any notion of what the game was, I enjoyed that. And that's success for me.

Alex: Yeah. Awesome. So faithfulness, a combination of box office success, faithfulness and audience score, some sort of triangle there. Got it. Got it. And as we're wrapping up and to the top of the hour, I want to ask you a couple final questions here.

First being, is there a video game IP that you aren't bringing to screen that you would like to? And the other constraint is that no one else is either. And so that's why I was saying there's a question that I was just going to ask you at the end that may be unanswerable since apparently everything is in the works.

But basically, is there a video game IP that you would like to work on that you don't know of is currently being worked on?

Roy: I know it's not. It's Red Dead Redemption is the most or the Grand Theft Auto would be them too, but I think Red Dead would be just amazing movie or TV series to be done.

Alex: Yeah, that would be awesome, actually.

And yeah, also, I think again, talking to what makes a good what lends itself to being a good live action adaptation. I feel like that one would actually be Awesome. I'm picturing something like Oh my gosh. Hateful eight kind of. Vibes. That could be really fun. But, and then I guess a final conclusion and question for you would be, do you have any goals for the gaming, for the Hollywood gaming IP films, like such as Oscar or something like that?

When do you think that just like we talk about Or at least I feel that Hollywood talks about there's this almost like these two levels between the Hollywood blockbusters of Marvel and that's one pocket of movies. And then there's Oscar level movies. There's Oppenheimer. And do you think that video game films could ever crack that barrier and be in that like top tier, like considered cinema, is the way that the elitists might film elitists might say.

Roy: Absolutely. I think an example, even though it's not a video game, it's Barbie. That was something that is nominated for best picture, maybe not best director or best actor, but it's still best picture nomination that I think five years ago or before it got made, you'd think that if I said Barbie is going to be a best picture contender, you'd be like, that's not a possibility.

And so it's possible for video games to hit that too. There's just a matter of the, who the filmmaker is and the quality of the film. So it's, and it could work for any, anything.

Alex: You're working on a lot of games that were game of the year. So you've got some big, I guess there's that kind of like the game award part of God of War and Shadow of Colossus, et cetera, and Horizon that are these big mega franchises that have awesome and amazingly powerful stories that I think will be really exciting to see on the big screen.

And so maybe like Emmys and Oscars are on the way for the video game industry. It's all helping us move up in the world. It's been awesome having this video game awakening that now you guys are like looking for video game properties and we're over here just being like, Oh, we make games and we don't even want to make movies, but it would be cool.

So I think it's a really exciting new frontier for the game space to be branching out. Very laterally and helping expose the world of the video game lore to the general public. But Roy, wow, this was such a pleasure. There's clearly so much opportunity and exciting things that are happening in bringing games to the big screen.

I learned a lot today about the filmmaking production process and how these deals come together. And so I'm sure that our audience did too. We usually conclude our episode by, in the case that there's any reason that someone in the audience, an investor, A game maker who has a filmmaking IP wants to reach out to you.

How can they get in touch?

Roy: They could reach out to me directly or call them like CAA and they represent me and they would put together everything.

Alex: Awesome. Okay. Roy, this was so fantastic. Thank you for being on air today. And as always friends, if you've got feedback or ideas, please hit me up at [email protected]. We are always open. And with that, I will see you next time. Thank you very much.

If you enjoyed today's episode, whether on YouTube or your favorite podcast app, make sure to like, subscribe, comment, or give a five-star review. And if you wanna reach out or provide feedback, shoot us a note at [email protected] or find us on Twitter and LinkedIn. Plus, if you wanna learn more about what Naavik has to offer, make sure to check out our website there. You can sign up for the number one games industry newsletter, Naavik Digest, or contact us to learn about our wide-ranging consulting and advisory services.

Again, that is Thanks for listening and we'll catch you in the next episode.