"Gears of War" video game turning to film

Wed Mar 21, 2007 5:24am EDT

Cheyenne Pesko plays the Xbox 360 game ''Gears of War'' at the game's launch party at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles October 25, 2006. New Line Cinema has acquired the film rights to the hit video game ''Gears of War,'' which overtook ''Halo 2'' to become the most popular title on the Xbox Live service following its release last November. REUTERS/Max Morse

Cheyenne Pesko plays the Xbox 360 game ''Gears of War'' at the game's launch party at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles October 25, 2006. New Line Cinema has acquired the film rights to the hit video game ''Gears of War,'' which overtook ''Halo 2'' to become the most popular title on the Xbox Live service following its release last November.

Credit: Reuters/Max Morse

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LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - New Line Cinema has acquired the film rights to the hit video game "Gears of War," which overtook "Halo 2" to become the most popular title on the Xbox Live service following its release last November.

Set on the planet Sera, the game thrusts players into a battle for survival between humans and a race of creatures that surface from the bowels of the planet known as the Locust Horde. Players assume identities of soldiers on Delta Squad as they fight to save the Sera's inhabitants.

The game, developed by Epic Games, sold more than 3 million units worldwide in its first 10 weeks. It also has received numerous awards, including Gamespot's Game of the Year and the Interactive Achievement Awards' Overall Game of the Year.

Cliff Bleszinski, lead game designer for "Gears," worked with screenwriter Stuart Beattie ("Collateral") to define a treatment, with the aim of crafting a movie that will appeal to the game's fans and moviegoers.

While the track record for video adaptations is decidedly mixed, producer Marty Bowen is hoping this one will be different.

"We're not going to do a to a lowest-common-denominator movie," said Bowen, who is partnered on the project with Wyck Godfrey. "We're going to attempt to elevate it. And we're starting off by having an A-list writer doing it."

Beattie first got involved one night while playing the game live.

"This New Line exec Jeff Katz dropped me a message in my Xbox Live account saying, 'If we bought the game you're playing right now, would you write it?' And this was back in December. It shows you how on-the-ball New Line was. I'm going to write off my Xbox Live this year, accounting-wise."

Beattie believes that if you tell a good story, audiences will respond, and he thinks the game's setting and scope will help in that respect.

"For me, it's a great, rich and unique world that I have never seen before, and it's a genre that has only been hinted at in films like 'Aliens,'" he said. "The epic sci-fi war movie has yet to be done, and that's what 'Gears' is."

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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