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Set a course for adventure, people! Sony Pictures' big screen adaptation of Uncharted is only two weeks away from hitting theaters. Based on the best-selling video game franchise published by Naughty Dog, the film stars Spider-Man superstar Tom Holland as intrepid treasure hunter/modern day Indiana Jones, Nathan Drake.
Mark Wahlberg, meanwhile, assumes the role of Nathan's cigar-chomping, mustache-having mentor, Victor "Sully" Sullivan. With the help of Chloe Frazer (Sophia Taylor Ali), the two heroes will attempt to track down a legendary cache worth billions of dollars before the ruthless Santiago Moncada (Antonio Banderas) can get his grubby fingers on it.
For more details on the film adaptation — including a rundown of its rocky journey to the big screen — head below...
When is it out?
Uncharted ventures into theaters everywhere on Friday, Feb. 18. Unlike its major competitors, Sony Pictures continues to stay the course on exclusive theatrical debuts, even in the face of a deadly pandemic.
Of course, that could simply be chalked up to the fact that the company doesn't have its own streaming service like Disney and Warner Bros. Even so, the studio was recently vindicated by the release of another Tom Holland vehicle, Spider-Man: No Way Home, which continues to rack up sales at the global box office nearly two months after it opened in December.
"I don't think we'll be in the day-and-date release business," Sony CEO Tony Vinciquerra said in December 2020. "I think the economic model for very big budget movies require the windows that are in the flow now and will continue with that. I think every film released will have an individual negotiation with the exhibitors, but look, we think a 30-day window is probably the best. It'll allow us to advertise our marketing over the two windows, theatrical and home entertainment. So we think that's the way to go."
How you can watch
Tickets for Uncharted screenings are now on sale through the usual vendors like Fandango. The ticket website made the on-sale announcement last week via the premiere of a final trailer, which you can check out by clicking here.
In a special behind-the-scenes look at the film (see below for the video), Holland asks Wahlberg to define the word 'uncharted.' Wahlberg's answer: "Something brand-new, never before seen, hasn't ever been put on a map yet." Holland replies: "And that's what this movie is. The story, uncharted. The action, uncharted, the locations are uncharted."
Director Ruben Fleischer made similar remarks while chatting with Empire for the magazine's February 2022 issue. "We tried to take inspiration from the games whenever we could," he said. "But we also wanted to have original set pieces that aren't a part of the games at all .... I've never seen anything like our third-act finale before and I think it will blow people away."
A perilous journey
A big screen translation of the Uncharted video game series dates all the way back to 2008. Throughout the years, the project constantly stalled in its tracks thanks to a revolving door of filmmakers (David O. Russell, Neil Burger, Shawn Levy, Dan Trachtenberg, and Travis Knight were all attached at one point or another) boarding and then swiftly exiting. In terms of screenwriters, the studio approached the likes of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer, and David Guggenheim.
"Well, [it's about] getting it right. The tone, the introduction to that world," Wahlberg explained during a recent interview with Collider when asked about the film's lengthy pilgrimage to the big screen. "It's 40 million games sold, it's obviously beloved by its fans and so, you gotta get it right. I think it's so cinematic anyway that it's a must make for a film. It's just a matter of getting it right. You really gotta nail it. And I think the smartest thing to do was kind of start out where we did and watching Tom as Nate come into his own. I think from there the opportunities are endless."
Despite the casting of Holland in 2017 (Chris Pratt reportedly passed, according to The Hollywood Reporter), Uncharted continued to hemorrhage directors at an alarming rate. It seemed the film was fated to spend the rest of eternity in development hell until Sony finally locked in Ruben Fleischer, who had previously churned out critical and box office hits for the studio like Zombieland and Venom.
Fleischer was hired in early 2020 with production scheduled to kick off in March. Of course, the COVID-19 health crisis had other plans and the cameras didn't start rolling until five months later. Principal photography wrapped two months after that, but there was no rest for Holland who promptly jetted off to Atlanta for the start of No Way Home's production.
The release date for Uncharted was pushed no less than four times before settling on Feb. 18, 2022. Rafe Judkins (current showrunner on Amazon's The Wheel of Time) and Art Marcum, and Matt Holloway (the duo who helped pen 2008's Iron Man) share final screenplay credit. Judkins came up with the screen story with Jon Hanley Rosenberg and Mark D. Walker.
Fleischer, Holland, Marcum, Holloway, Robert J. Dohrmann, David Bernad, Asad Qizilbash, Carter Swan, Neil Druckmann (Naughty Dog co-president and a key writer and designer on the Uncharted games), and Evan Wells (Naughty Dog co-president) are executive producers. Charles Roven, Avi Arad, Alex Gartner, and Ari Arad produce.
"Part of the problem is that they're trying to recreate the games," Fleischer explained to Empire when asked about why the vast majority of video game movies fail to connect with audiences. "Because players have had such a visceral experience, I don't think you can compete with that. I wanted to make sure it worked as a film first."
X marks the spot
Uncharted's cinematic debut presents an origin story for characters that gamers know so well. The adventure kicks off when Nathan is recruited by Sully to recover a treasure, which was said to be lost by navigator Ferdinand Magellan centuries ago. What starts out as a simple heist job turns into a globe-trotting race to find the prize before Moncada. You see, the villain's family has been after those riches for generations and he wholeheartedly believes that the stash is his birthright. He'll kill anyone who gets in his way, but he won't get any blood on his hands. For that, he relies on his faithful enforcer, Braddock (Tati Gabrielle). As the trailers have already shown, viewers should expect larger-than-life set pieces — from airlifted pirate ships to a death-defying scene ripped straight out of the third game.
“We created a film that has a lot of heart, that pays respect to the games, but also gives fans and people that love the games something new and something refreshing,” Holland stated during a virtual CES press conference last month (via THR). “It’s interesting in these big action movies, I often find that the heart and soul of the movie can be lost in the action. But what’s so nice about our movie is you have this very tangible relationship between Nate and Sully, which is really the heart of the movie. … It’s about a young orphan looking for his family and in turn finding a family in the most sort of unorthodox way."