As the main creative mind behind 1995's Mortal Kombat and the six Resident Evil films, stylish British director Paul W.S. Anderson is well versed in the proper way to bring video games to the big screen for the greatest impact — so we chatted him up about his latest video game adaptation: Monster Hunter.
Mortal Kombat, based on Capcom's brutal martial arts arcade and gaming platform sensation, celebrates its 25th anniversary in August. It became the first successful attempt at delivering a satisfying Hollywood adaptation and eventually collected $122 million worldwide off a $21 million budget. Likewise, the Resident Evil movie saga is hailed as the highest-grossing video game franchise of all time with a cumulative box office haul of over $1.2 billion.
Now Anderson is bringing the exotic world of Capcom's global gaming blockbuster Monster Hunter into theaters next spring with a $60 million extravaganza from Sony Pictures starring Milla Jovovich, Tony Jaa, and Ron Perlman. The sci-fi fantasy property chronicles an elite special forces unit zapped through a portal to a bizarre magical universe where ginormous hungry creatures rule.
Anderson recently spoke to SYFY WIRE for an updated status about the highly-anticipated project (which has been pushed to 2021), filming in rarely-seen African locations, falling in love with Monster Hunter's wild designs, providing some necessary escapism for the entire world, and bringing to life the beloved sci-fi survival game's menacing menagerie of giant monsters!
"The movie is 100 percent finished," he tells SYFY WIRE. "We were supposed to be releasing it on Labor Day weekend but we pushed it into 2021, but it’s completely done. So it’s coming out April 23 of next year. For me, it’s my most favorite movie I’ve ever made. It has a rather unique look to it.
"One of the things I fell in love with when I first played the game — and I’m an avid follower of the game and optioned the game from Capcom 10 years ago; I was playing it when it was relatively unknown in the West and no-one else was really aware of it — was not only all the creatures but also the environments they lived it. They really did a great job of creating this world, this environment, this wild habitat, that they lived in."
To bring the fantastical landscapes to life, Anderson was set on not shooting in a studio against a green screen.
"I felt it was really important to get out on location and shoot if we wanted to do justice to the amazing landscapes form the game, and that’s exactly what we did," he explains. "We shot the movie in Africa and we’ve got lush jungles, we’ve got deserts that reflect the Wildspire Waste from the game, and beautiful, stunning locations, some of which have never been shot before. And there’s a reason for that because they were just in the middle of nowhere.
"For most of the movie the crew were living in tents, in these tent villages that we put up hundreds of mile from the closest town or village. We were shooting in the middle of nowhere capturing these insane landscapes we then put these giant monsters into. And it’s really given the movie a fantastic look because the only thing that’s CG in the film are the monsters. It’s given the animators reality to key into.
"So rather than being in Pinewood Studios and shooting it against a green screen, we’re on these epic, real locations with real lens flare, real dust, real foliage, real water," he adds. "Real environments that the animators can lock the creatures into. It’s given the movie a really epic, lush feel that I’m very, very excited about."
According to Anderson, Monster Hunter's detailed worldbuilding should satiate the property's legion of fans when the tentpole film arrives next year.
"Well, it’s this incredible world that they created," Anderson notes. "You’re plunged into another world. It’s wonderful escapism and when the world starts to right itself and people can go back to theaters, that’s exactly what people will want and need is to escape for a couple of hours into a different realm. And that’s what Monster Hunter has in spades, and that’s why I was so excited to turn it into a movie."