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What will be the first great video game movie?
Ciaran Hinds as Jonathan Reiss and Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft in "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life." - photo by Jeff Peterson
Despite an embarrassingly long list of attempts, movies based on video games have never been the all-out hits they rightfully (in some cases, anyway) should be.

The recent Adam Sandler flop Pixels about aliens using '80s arcade games to attack Earth is not based on any one title specifically. But it's another reminder of how poorly games have translated to the big screen up to this point.

A full 15 years into the superhero boom, Hollywood is still trying to crack the code and find that first great property that will open up video games the way X-Men and Spider-Man (and way before that, Superman and Batman) opened up the world of comic books for movie audiences.

And for pretty obvious reasons. Video games notwithstanding the fact that theyre the youngest entertainment market have, in the last decade, overtaken both theatrical movies and recorded music in terms of annual revenue, according to figures found on Statista.

And video games are definitely not just for kids and computer geeks anymore. The average age of gamers is 35, and women 18 and older account for a third of the game-playing population, according to the Entertainment Software Association.

So far, though, the history of game-to-film adaptations is littered with unmitigated trainwrecks and things that are adaptations in name only, ranging from the bonkers Super Mario Bros. to generic action movies such as Need for Speed and everything in between.

Not even serious star power has helped out. The 2001 film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, starring Angelina Jolie and Daniel Craig, remains one of the most successful video game adaptations to date at least financially. Typical for movies based on games, though, its Rotten Tomatoes score is a bleak 19 percent. Its sequel, The Cradle of Life, on the other hand, was such a big flop that its sometimes blamed for the prevailing mindset in Hollywood that female-led action movies are just too risky.

Plenty of other big-name stars have taken a crack at video games, as well, including Jake Gyllenhaal (Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time), Dwayne The Rock Johnson (Doom), Jason Statham (In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale) and Mark Wahlberg (Max Payne) all with even less success.

But Hollywood hasnt given up trying. In fact, things are just gearing up for a full-blown video game movie blitz in the next few years. So now its just a race to see which property manages to be the first to get it right.

Here are the more prominent titles of the current crop of video game movies (and top contenders at not being terrible) in some stage of development:

1. Warcraft

Blizzard Entertainments massive multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft is among the highest-grossing games of all time. According to Business Insider, as of 2012, it had raked in more than $10 billion. At its peak, it boasted more than 12 million subscribers.

Sales figures do not a quality movie make. But Warcraft is being treated like a major property by Legendary Pictures, the production company known for its nerd-friendly movies such as the Dark Knight trilogy, Pacific Rim and Jurassic World. With a budget reportedly north of $100 million, it features an extremely talented cast, including Travis Fimmel (TVs Vikings), Paula Patton (Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol), Ben Foster (X-Men: The Last Stand), Toby Kebbell (Fantastic Four) and Dominic Cooper (Agent Carter). Most interesting of all, though, is the director, Duncan Jones. After helming smaller budgeted films such as the excellent Moon and Source Code, this is his first foray into a big studio tentpole.

Footage from the film was shown earlier this month at the San Diego Comic-Con. While the reactions, particularly to the heavy use of computer-generated imagery for the Orc characters, were not over-the-top positive, it still has plenty of time to fix some of the perceived problems in post-production.

Furthermore, now that the Hobbit Trilogy has wrapped up, the T (teen)-rated "World of Warcraft" could fill the gap in teen-oriented action-fantasy when it makes the jump to the silver screen, likely with a PG-13 rating to appeal to as wide a demographic as possible.

With a release date of June 10, 2016, "Warcraft" gets first crack at the title of first good video game movie.

2. Assassins Creed

Michael Fassbender (X-Men: Days of Future Past) has been attached to star in an adaptation of Ubisofts popular historical adventure/sci-fi game series since 2012 and through multiple director changes. Filming is finally set to begin in September, and it will see Fassbender reunite with his recent Macbeth director, Justin Kurzel, as well as co-star Marion Cotillard. (For anyone who hasnt seen the Macbeth trailer, its a doozy.)

The Assassins Creed series is ideal for a film adaptation, particularly because of the flexibility it offers. The games feature multiple protagonists through a variety of time periods and locations, ranging from Crusades-era Damascus to Renaissance Italy to revolutionary France.

What isnt entirely clear yet is how closely Assassins Creed will follow the original storyline about a modern-day Templar conspiracy. Its believed Fassbender will be playing the dual roles of Desmond Miles and his assassin ancestor Altar Ibn LaAhad. But when asked point-blank by an interviewer for, he remained coy, saying, You dont know that. Dont listen to what they tell you, thats the first rule.

The Assassin's Creed games have usually been rated M (mature) for violence and language (the video game equivalent of the MPAA's R rating). There's a strong possibility the movie version will get a softer rating when it hits theaters Dec. 21, 2016.

3. Splinter Cell

Another of Ubisofts flagship franchises, Splinter Cell is set to star Mad Max actor Tom Hardy as series protagonist Sam Fisher, a member of a fictional NSA black-ops unit called Third Echelon.

Like Assassins Creed, Splinter Cell is an obvious choice for adaptation thanks to the already cinematic nature of the games, which even received an endorsement from Tom Clancy. Hardy is an actor who can virtually do no wrong these days, it seems. (Well, except for his one foray into rom-coms, This Means War.)

However, Splinter Cell has seen some shakeups recently that could delay it. Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity and Edge of Tomorrow), who had long been attached to direct, recently exited the project, according to the website Den of Geek.

As of April, though, Hardy was still talking positively about the movie, telling Collider, Theres a draft being done right now and were still waiting for a window to go out and start shooting. I want to jump out of helicopters and run around wearing night vision goggles. Im ready for that.

The Splinter Cell games have mostly been rated T and M. It's anyone's guess right now what the movie will end up being.

Currently, Splinter Cell is penciled in for a release sometime in 2017.

4. Rampage

The latest video game movie to be announced (via Deadline), Rampage will see Dwayne The Rock Johnson team up once again with his San Andreas producer Beau Flynn.

For those too young to remember Midways classic '80s arcade hit, Rampage involves three giant monsters a lizard, a gorilla and a wolf destroying U.S. landmarks. Presumably, Johnson will star as a human protagonist.

Since the abysmal Doom in 2005, Johnson has hit his stride as an action hero, giving a much-needed boost to franchises such as the Fast and the Furious and G.I. Joe. On top of that, giant monsters are increasingly becoming one of Hollywoods go-to sources of onscreen destruction, with Pacific Rim 2, Godzilla 2, Jurassic World 2 and Kong: Skull Island all in the pipeline. Rampage could be hitting at exactly the right moment to capitalize on the trend. As an old-school family favorite with an E (everyone) rating, "Rampage" could go a lot more family friendly than any of those titles, though.

Unlike the other game-to-movie adaptations on this list, it also benefits from not having an overly cinematic storyline with rich characterization, etc. Instead, expect something pretty straightforward: The Rock facing off against a trio of giant monsters.

As of right now, a release date has not been announced, but with a shoot scheduled for next summer, Rampage wont come out until 2017 at the earliest.

5. The Last of Us

A major hit with critics both in and out of the gaming community and one of the most awarded titles in history, The Last of Us also bears the distinction of being probably the first game to ever be compared (favorably, at that) to a Cormac McCarthy novel.

Set two decades after a zombie-like pandemic, players take on the role of Joel, a grizzled survivor escorting a girl named Ellie across country.

Screen Gems snatched up the film rights in 2014 with Spider-Man director Sam Raimi attached as a producer. What makes this one a strong contender, though, is the fact that original game writer and director Neil Druckmann, who won multiple BAFTA and Writers Guild awards for his work on The Last of Us, will be handling scripting duties meaning, hopefully, that it will maintain at least some of the complexity and depth of the original game and not just be another adaptation in name only.

Its gritty, M-rated portrayal of a post-apocalyptic wasteland almost definitely won't be one for the kiddos that is, unless they change a lot. Expect something more in line with "The Walking Dead" in terms of violence and gore.

IMDB currently has The Last of Us listed with a 2016 release date, but dont look for it any sooner than 2017.

The rest of them

There are plenty of other possible contenders waiting in the wings should all of these movies fail. Other games getting adaptations include Mass Effect, Asteroids, Deus Ex, Far Cry, Uncharted, Angry Birds, Ratchet & Clank, Watch Dogs, Rabbids, Ghost Recon, Tomb Raider (again) and, as a TV series, Halo, allegedly with Steven Spielberg still attached as an executive producer, according to Gamespot.

Hollywood is clearly intent on making video game movies work. For fans of the games, its just a matter of how many great franchises will be ruined before that happens.