It looks like Sony is taking a new approach towards filmed entertainment, creating a new studio, aptly titled PlayStation Productions, which does exactly what it sounds like it would: bring PlayStation IPs to film and television.
The Culver City-based PlayStation Productions is led by Asad Qizilbash and overseen by Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide Studios chairman Shawn Layden.
“We’ve got 25 years of game development experience and that’s created 25 years of great games, franchises, and stories,” Layden told The Hollywood Reporter. “We feel that now is a good time to look at other media opportunities across streaming or film or television to give our worlds life in another spectrum.”
Of course, this revelation isn’t unique to Sony. As you might recall, companies such as Ubisoft and Activision Blizzard have also opened up film and television arms in the past. However, rather than license its IPs to other studios, Sony did the research and felt it would be better to do most of the work itself. Sister studio Sony Pictures will help with distribution, but essentially everything else would be handled at PlayStation Production’s discretion.
“Instead of licensing our IP out to studios, we felt the better approach was for us to develop and produce for ourselves,” said Qizilbash. “One, because we’re more familiar, but also because we know what the PlayStation community loves…For the last year and half, two years, we’ve spent time trying to understand the industry, talking to writers, directors, producers. We talked to [film producer] Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Kevin Feige to really get an understanding of the industry.”
“We looked at what Marvel has done in taking the world of comic books and making it into the biggest thing in the film world,” Layden added. “It would be a lofty goal to say we’re following in their footsteps, but certainly we’re taking inspiration from that.”
As for what encouraged this approach? Needless to say, most TV shows and movies adapted from video games just aren’t very good. There are many reasons for this, but Layden notes it mostly comes down to the fact that the people involved in production usually lack the connection to the source material that the developers do.
“You can see just by watching older video game adaptations that the screenwriter or director didn’t understand that world or the gaming thing,” he stated. “The real challenge is, how do you take 80 hours of gameplay and make it into a movie? The answer is, you don’t. What you do is you take that ethos you write from there specifically for the film audience. You don’t try to retell the game in a movie.”
Qizilbash noted that whether they focus on film or television depends on the title, as the story will ultimately determine the format.
So when can we expect the first off PlayStation Productions’ adaptations to arrive? That’s unclear for the time being. Layden notes the first slate of products are already underway, but since the company doesn’t have a ‘X number of titles that must be done by X time’ mindset and isn’t any particular rush to market, it will likely be awhile before we hear anything concrete.