Six directors have signed on – and then signed off – of the Uncharted movie. The latest example being Travis Knight who recently called it quits due to scheduling issues. Speaking of which, the Uncharted movie will feature Tom Holland as Nathan Drake, though Holland is also tapped to shoot another Spider-Man film this summer.
Because of this, and the search for a new director, Sony has delayed the movie’s release from December 18, 2020 to an undetermined point in the future. Will it be 2021, 2022… never? No one really knows at this point. It’s almost comical how unwilling Sony is to let the idea of an Uncharted movie die.
To put things into perspective, the Uncharted movie was first announced by Sony back in 2008. During the 12-year time period following this announcement, the film has cycled through six directors including David O. Russell, Neil Burger, Seth Gordon, Shawn Levy, Dan Trachtenberg, and Travis Knight.
The writing team has suffered equal (if not greater) losses, with the script having to be rewritten by new people each and every time a director leaves. These issues have led many to question why so many directors are turning away from the Uncharted movie.
Is it because of the hit-or-miss nature of video game movies, or because the Uncharted games are cinematic enough in their own right? It could be a bit of both, though we’re leaning towards the latter.
The Uncharted games feature fun gameplay elements that challenge players with a multitude of tasks, along with an engrossing story that follows treasure hunter Nathan Drake. The cinema of the Uncharted games works because you’re able to interact and be a part of the action.
It would be hard to adapt how the Uncharted games “feel” and make it appealing to a passive moviegoing audience. What’s more, the Uncharted game series boasted a talented team of writers including the likes of Amy Hennig and Neil Druckmann.
Speaking about working with some of the directors on the project, Amy Hennig told Polygon:
“You have to be able to distill what it is – what’s core to the franchise – and be able to then let it go, but then be real candid and clear with filmmakers when you feel, like, ‘You’re kind of breaking the thing.’ But what’s interesting is that all the resets on that, it never had anything to do with Sony or Naughty Dog. It was all their own Hollywood stuff.”
In the past, writers aimed to craft the movie around Nathan Drake and his extended family, rather than Drake’s in-game adventures. That idea later morphed into something similar, yet different, with Holland set to play a young version of Nathan Drake.
The Uncharted games have already dabbled in Drake’s backstory, so a movie spin on this would have to be done in such a way so as to feel fresh to fans of the series. It would also have to be condensed down enough to work as a movie, with most movies coming in at under 3 hours in total length.
The complexity of adapting around the constraints of Hollywood, while remaining true to the core games, are likely part of the reason why directors and writers have bailed. Although, that’s not true in all cases. For some directors, like Travis Knight, the decision to leave was based on prior commitments and a lack of time.
Yes, it doesn’t look great on paper that six directors have bailed, but some of the difficulty surrounding the Uncharted film boils down to bad luck rather than bad faith. If done correctly, an Uncharted movie may be able to work and appeal to an audience, kind of like the fan film directed by Allan Ungar and starring Nathan Fillion.
It was amazing, and if an Uncharted film was able to capture that same vibe, it’d more than likely be amazing as well. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the next director Sony hires is able to stay on board and complete the Uncharted movie in a way that honors the game series.
If this never comes to fruition, we’re also happy replaying all of the Uncharted games because in the end, the games themselves are already able to satisfy most of the cinematic needs that fans have.