September 27, 2011 by Paul Curtin
When the first CGI trailer for Dead Island blew up on the internet back in February there were rumors that Hollywood studios were already interested in buying the rights and bringing the game that had yet to show a single image of actual gameplay to the big screen. It seemed a little premature for there to already be talks of a feature film since the trailer was amazing, but was basically just a scene of a family getting attacked by zombies on vacation and played in reverse, plus with the public having no idea how the actual game would turn out, the hype for Dead Island could have flatlined not only before the movie’s release, but before the game itself was released.
Luckily, Dead Island turned out to be pretty good (we gave it a 3.5/5); however, the character development in the game was terrible, so it looks like Lionsgate will be focusing more on the family’s story from the trailer and not the four forgettable and poorly voiced characters from the actual game, which is what fans wanted from the start anyways. There’s still no word on who will direct the film and any potential actors, so we’ll have to wait for more details and the movie’s official trailer to see if it lives up to the game’s cinematic trailer. Here’s the official press release from Lionsgate:
Lionsgate Brings Dead Island to Life on the Big Screen
Feature Film Adaptation Of Deep Silver’s Zombie Sensation In Development At The Studio
London, UK, September 27, 2011– LIONSGATE® (NYSE: LGF), a leading global entertainment company, today announced that it has optioned film rights from Deep Silver to develop a feature inspired by Dead Island, which became a viral media sensation when its haunting, artful trailer launched in February 2011. The announcement was made by Lionsgate’s co-COO and Motion Picture Group President Joe Drake.
Dead Island is a global brand first introduced through a teaser trailer that told the story of a family on vacation at a tropical resort who is besieged by zombies. Told in a stark, non-linear fashion, the wrenching trailer captured worldwide fan attention and unanimous critical praise upon its debut, receiving over one million hits in its first 24 hours online, and nearly 10 million views by two days after its debut. Wired Magazine, College Humor and G4TV all called it the best video game trailer of all time, with G4TV adding “The Dead Island trailer is the best trailer I have ever seen in my life. The best video game trailer. The best movie trailer. The best anything trailer.” The trailer went on to win the Golden Lion in Cannes at the International Festival of Creativity, the advertising industry’s highest honor, and it was featured by Adweek on their annual list of the World’s Best Commercials.
The video game Dead Island was published by Deep Silver for Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC. It was released in the United States on September 6th, 2011 and was the number one selling game both in the U.S. and the U.K. upon its local releases. The game has sold over two million units to date.
The game centers on vacationers whose island paradise becomes a living hell when a zombie outbreak quickly spreads. Cut off from the rest of the world, the survivors have only the available materials and the island’s natural “weapons” to protect themselves from the viscous and growing legions of the undead. In addition to the award-winning trailer and video game, the Dead Island intellectual property will be simultaneously developed by Deep Silver into forthcoming graphic novels, novels and other extensions.
Like the trailer that will serve as its primary creative inspiration, the film DEAD ISLAND will be an innovation of the zombie genre because of its focus on human emotion, family ties and non-linear storytelling. Said Drake of the property’s acquisition, “Like the hundreds of journalists and millions of fans who were so passionate and vocal about the Dead Island trailer, we too were awestruck.” He continued, “This is exactly the type of property we’re looking to adapt at Lionsgate – it’s sophisticated, edgy, and a true elevation of a genre that we know and love. It also has built in brand recognition around the world, and franchise potential.”
The film DEAD ISLAND is currently in the early development stage with producers attached. Sean Daniel (THE MUMMY, TOMBSTONE, DAZED AND CONFUSED) will spearhead production through his Sean Daniel Company. A veteran producer with global franchises under his belt, Daniel is to be joined in producing by Stefan Sonnenfeld, who has been a pioneer in the post production field, using the process as a platform to create a unique visual brand with directors including J.J Abrams, Michael Bay and Gore Verbinski. Jason Brown of The Sean Daniel Company and Missy Papageorge for Sonnenfeld’s Sunny Field Productions are executive producing, with Sarah Perlman of Sunny Field Productions serving as co-producer.
Alli Shearmur, Lionsgate’s President of Motion Picture Production and Development is overseeing the project at the studio, with Jim Miller, SVP of Production and Development. Rob McEntegart, Senior EVP of Lionsgate’s Motion Picture Group, negotiated the deal with Deep Silver’s U.S. attorney Ed Labowitz.