After the notorious 1994 self-titled film and the abysmal box-office performance of last year's "should have been straight-to-DVD" Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, one would think that attempting to harness the Street Fighter franchise for the big screen would be equivalent to licking plague sores with a split lip. Well, Capcom, if anything is persistent and isn't afraid to keep trying at that proverbial Blackjack table, despite a rather lopsided record in favor of the house. In an interview with Capcom’s vice president of strategic planning and business development, Christian Svensson, it was revealed that there are indeed plans for more Street Fighter movies and other live-action incarnations set for the future.
According to Svensson:
"I think there are some learnings internally that we’ve taken away from that experience. I think you’ll see some clever live-action stuff that will excite our fans at some point in the future, based on Street Fighter. Let’s just say that the book is not yet done on Street Fighter film and video projects."
The interview brought up the issue of Rockstar's reluctance to bring a Grand Theft Auto film to life, due to their fears of yet another bad video game film possibly damaging their reputation. Svensson, revealed a different philosophy on the part of Capcom. They seem to subscribe to a motto equivalent to the old saying, "there's no such thing as bad publicity." To them, the focus must always remain with the video games. Everything else, regardless of how they turn out, are just tools to bring them the exposure.
“Hey, as long as you guys keep bringing the goods, the fans are still gonna love you regardless of what happens outside. It’s kind of a missed opportunity if you don’t start exploring outside our medium to expand your brand."
This is an interesting, if heavily debatable point. To be able to accurately assess whether bad video game movies impact negatively on their video game counterparts is difficult to tell. In most cases, by the time a popular video game franchise gets to the point of a film adaptation, the series is already well into its sequels. This is the period where a franchise's staying power is put to the test, and only in exceptional cases, are they able to ratchet the excitement level, as the game industry just moves so fast. Therefore, you often get a movie based on a once popular video game franchise, accompanied in a cross-sell with a new game in the series that's mediocre at best. (Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness, anyone?)
As a result, the cause and effect of film-adapted franchises that lose their mojo, is surely without a definitive answer. Are intellectual properties best served in careful doses? Or are they meant to be proliferated in every conceivable form, as much as humanly possible?
The interview closes with some of the plans that Capcom has for expanding its brand. As it so happens, they are following the Marvel model of growing as a "pop culture media company." Their plans are ambitious, spreading themselves into not just live-action media, but books, comics, and music soundtracks even more so than they are right now. According to Svensson, they've been planing a big multi-media blitz for some time, now:
"We’ve had other motion picture projects in development for a very long period of time – Devil May Cry, Onimusha, Dark Void -- some of which may come out, some of which never may see the light of day. That’s just the way Hollywood works. The goal is to be everywhere with your brand. Have your brand touch as many people as possible, but still be true to the fans ideally."
What do you think of Capcom's plans to infiltrate pop culture? There's no doubt that they have a lot going for them, specifically some of the most legendary video game franchises of all time. However, could we one day be looking at them the way we look at Marvel or DC? (In which case, it would require them to either be bought out by or merged into a massive media conglomerate.)