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'Nocturne' Game Heads to the Big Screen

27 Nov, 2001 By: John Gaudiosi

As part of its first-look deal with Dimension Films, Collision Entertainment, headed by Paul Rosenberg and Scott Faye, is bringing developer Terminal Reality's adventure horror PC video game franchise Nocturne to the big screen.

Brent Friedman ("Dark Skies" TV series) and Steve DeJarnett (who wrote and directed Miracle Mile) just completed a script for Collision.

Dimension Films will distribute the film in the U.S. The action-adventure film, which is expected to aim for a PG-13 rating, will begin production in 2002. Abandon Entertainment is involved in co-financing the project.

Nocturne provides a rich world and interesting characters that has the potential to become the next Mummy franchise,” said Faye, who will serve as producer on the film. “The film will play like a supernatural Untouchables, retaining the spirit of the game, while introducing new characters and a solid, three-act action-adventure story line.”

Based on the 1999 PC video game, Nocturne introduces players to a secret U.S. government group, called The Spookhouse, founded in 1902 by President Theodore Roosevelt to serve as a shadow organization to the newly formed Bureau of Investigation. The group investigates supernatural cases in an effort to defend the U.S. from monsters and other evil entities.

Set in the 1930s, the first game offered four unique cases for Spookhouse to solve. The Stranger, a mysterious protagonist who speaks through actions, not words, served as the central link among the four self-contained cases, which featured undead gangsters in Chicago and vampire nobles in a small European town. The Stranger's a throwback to the old serialized pulp fiction stories like "The Shadow." Svetlana Lupescu, a half-vampire, half-human raised by Spookhouse, is one of many interesting characters served up in the stories.

A PC spin-off shipped in 2000 as part of a trilogy of “Blair Witch” licensed games. Blair Witch Volume 1: Rustin Parr, starred Doc Holiday, Spookhouse's monster expert and gadget guru. This game built upon the Rustin Parr myth from The Blair Witch movie, he's the one who murdered seven children in Burkittsville, Maryland, and expanded the Nocturne story line.

“With the Nocturne games, our goal was to take standard Hollywood monsters like werewolves, zombies and vampires and make them scary again,” said Drew Haworth, creative director, Terminal Reality. “When we began developing the game in 1997, the idea was to open up a franchise that blended pure horror with serialized pulp fiction stories.”

With the Hollywood film now moving along, Terminal Reality plans on taking its horror franchise to next-generation console systems like Xbox, PlayStation 2 and GameCube.

“The new console games based on Nocturne won't necessarily focus on the movie directly, but will incorporate elements and characters from the film. Since PC and console game players are a different audience, we plan on re-inventing the franchise with the console games. We'll create a brand new game experience with a new 3D camera perspective for a more action-oriented, Hollywood feel, while remaining true to the elements of the Nocturne universe.”

Haworth said the game universe allows both the movies and the games to span time, going backwards to explore what Spookhouse was like when it first started in 1902, or forward to present day to see how it's evolved. The “Nocturne” console games are expected to ship in conjunction with the film's release.

Nocturne marks Collision Entertainment's third video game-based partnership with Dimension and Abandon. The big screen version of Max Payne, which is a best-selling PC action game shipping for PS2 and Xbox this fall, now has Siavash Farahani writing a script and principal photography targeted to begin in spring 2002. The film could hit theaters as early as 2003. Abandon will handle international distribution.

“The movie will remain faithful to the game's spirit, while taking the story of Max Payne, an undercover DEA agent in New York City who seeks revenge on the Mafia drug syndicate that has killed his wife and child and framed him for the murder of a fellow agent, and translating it into hard-boiled, Dirty Harry-style, character-driven cop movie,” said Faye. “The game offers a very cinematic experience and our vision is to pay homage to those classic hard-boiled movies that made an impact on our collective conscience.”

A “Max Payne” game sequel is already in the works. Collision is working closely with game developer 3D Realms to create the film, which has the potential for sequels.

Collision is also translating American McGee's Alice, a PC game published by Electronic Arts, into a feature film for Dimension. The film, which is in early development, has Wes Craven attached as a producer and director and game creator McGee will serve as a co-producer on the film, which introduces a 17-year-old Alice who needs to save herself and Wonderland. Collision is currently seeking a writer for the project. Abandon will handle international distribution.

“Whether you're developing a game or a movie, it's all about creating great characters, good storytelling and unveiling interesting environments,” said McGee. “In developing my games, I work in a very visual fashion, and this translates well when expanding games to Hollywood properties.”

Collision currently has one-third of its projects coming from video games, but that will vary depending on the content.

“Developing a movie based on a video game shouldn't be any different than developing a movie based on a John Grisham novel,” said Faye. “The key for our success is to develop relationships with the people who create the games and work with them closely. At the same time, we partner talent who know movies and create a synergy for what we hope will be a movie that's faithful to the source material but also engaging to the audience who never played the game. The end result should please gamers and could possibly bring a broader audience to the film commercially and intrigue that audience to explore the gaming world.”

“There's a great opportunity out there to exploit the quality video games that are being released,” said Rosenberg. “The video game movies that came out this past summer weren't that great. We're working with fresh young talent in the video game industry like McGee with Alice and 3D Realms with Max Payne and Terminal Reality with Nocturne to make sure that the translation to the big screen makes for a great story and an entertaining film.”

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