By Phil Contrino 

It's easy to let a series of failures cast a shadow over real potential.

That's exactly what has happened when it comes to movie adaptations of popular video games. Our industry has been burned too many times by critical and commercial disasters without enough success stories to dull the pain. When it comes to video game films, no approach seems to really click. The campy approach failed (see Super Mario Bros.), the serious approach failed (see Silent Hill and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within), and a heavy emphasis on action scenes hasn't been wildly successful either (see Max Payne and Need for Speed). Even Disney, the studio with the best track record when it comes to launching billion-dollar properties, couldn't get Prince of Persia to work. Currently, 2001's Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is the strongest domestic earner with a $131.2 million cume. Yet if video game adaptations were truly living up to their potential, I believe we already would have seen one of them hit $131 million during the opening weekend alone, just like our best superhero films do.  

It's not that crazy to compare the potential of video game adaptations to superhero films. After all, both genres have one big thing in common: they have massive established fan bases made up of the same key demographics that can help a film deliver huge numbers globally. It's also important to remember that superhero films only started to become really common after 2000's X-Men. Up until that point, the only truly successful characters were Batman and Superman. Today the genre has gained so much mainstream appeal that Disney can confidently launch lesser-known properties such as Ant-Man with great results. Why can't video game adaptations connect in such a way?  

2016 is poised to be a turning point for the genre. There are some very high-profile adaptations that could turn into blockbusters, starting a big rush to adapt more titles.  

Families Could Turn Angry Birds into a Viable Film Franchise   

It's easy to dismiss an adaptation of such a mindless game, and many on the Internet have already done just that. Perhaps the game's huge mobile presence makes it difficult for some to imagine a leap to the big screen. Whatever the case may be, it's hard to be snarky when you look at the sales figures: according to video game market research company DFC Intelligence, the Angry Birds property has amassed over 3 billion downloads worldwide across all titles and platforms. Yes, that's billion, not million. If Sony, the film's distributor, can hit even a small percentage of the game's audience, then they'll be in great shape. The May 20, 2016, release date is a clear vote of confidence on Sony's part.  

Warcraft Is Not to Be Underestimated   

Universal is jumping into the world of fantasy films on June 10, 2016, with Warcraft, an adaptation of the popular World of Warcraft role-playing game series. Over 100 million people have created WoW accounts since its launch in 2004. While that may not be Angry Birds-level big, it's certainly enough to make any studio exec drool.   WoW is in good hands. Universal's 2015 global tally will easily pass $6 billion-a mark no other studio has ever hit-and a lot of that success is the result of a marketing team that's firing on all cylinders. The campaigns for Fifty Shades of Grey, Pitch Perfect 2, Minions, Furious 7, Jurassic World, and Straight Outta Compton helped those titles shatter expectations. There's no reason to think that Universal won't use what they've learned in 2015 to help Warcraft maximize its potential.  

Will Assassin's Creed Succeed in a Coveted December Release Spot?   

With over 80 million units sold, the Assassin's Creed franchise comes with tons of potential, and 20th Century Fox is clearly taking the property seriously. The studio hired the core team behind the 2015 adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth-director Justin Kurzel and stars Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard-to tackle this crucial project. With that kind of pedigree, it's likely that moviegoers who aren't familiar with the games will give Assassin's Creed a chance. There's no reason to be concerned about the film moving from an August 7, 2016, release date to a December 21, 2016, release. Release date changes are not always a kiss of death.  

2016 Is Only the Beginning ...   

If Hollywood can finally crack the formula to make successful video game adaptations, then the sky's the limit. If properly executed, any of the films mentioned above can result in lucrative franchises, and that will only scratch the surface when it comes to available content. Here's hoping that 10 to 15 years from now the video game equivalent of Ant-Man is released and greeted with a strong reception at the global box office.  

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hungergamesmockingjay.pngTheir official press release:

LOS ANGELES - November 18, 2015 - "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2" reigns at the top of this week's Fandango's Fanticipation movie buzz indicator with 96 out of 100 points and rules Fandango's weekend ticket sales.

"Part 2," selected by Fandango fans as the most anticipated movie of the Fall season (September-November), is pacing similarly in advance ticket sales to "Part 1" at the same point in that film's sales cycle on Fandango.

"After months of anticipation, the final ‘Hunger Games' film has arrived, and it's no surprise that it's earned one of the best Fanticipation scores of the year," says Fandango Chief Correspondent Dave Karger. "Ticket sales are matching those of ‘Mockingjay, Part 1' a year ago, so a massive opening weekend is imminent."

According to a survey of "Mockingjay, Part 2" moviegoers on Fandango:

94% have seen all of the previous "Hunger Games" films on the big screen;
93% identify themselves as Jennifer Lawrence fans;
81% are intrigued to see the darker tone of "Mockingjay, Part 2;"
74% will see the movie with a group of friends;
73% wished there could be more "Hunger Games" movies in the future;
68% plan to see "Part 2" more than once.

To help prepare moviegoers for this week's release of the highly-anticipated movie, Fandango Movieclips has put together a primer with host Dan Perrault entitled "Things to Know Before You Go to ‘Mockingjay, Part 2'" at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1T0hRYejy0.

About Fanticipation

Known for having its finger on the pulse of moviegoers, Fandango's movie buzz indicator, Fanticipation, provides statistical insight into the movies fans are planning to see in a given weekend. Fanticipation scores (based on a 1 to 100-point scale) are calculated via an algorithm of Fandango's advance ticket sales, website and mobile traffic, and social media engagement. Fanticipation is not intended as a forecast of the weekend box office; it is a snapshot of movie fan sentiment. Fandango is the nation's leading digital destination for moviegoers and fans with more than 42 million unique visitors per month.*

*According to comScore.

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Multiyear Deal Kicks off with Debut of Fandango's New "Miles Mouvay" Video Spots Featuring "Saturday Night Live" Star Kenan Thompson on the Big Screen in NCM's "FirstLook"

Includes the Addition of Fandango Moviegoer Data and Insights into NCM's Data Platforms to Provide More Effective In-Theater Advertising and Content Targeting for NCM's Marketing Partners

LOS ANGELES & CENTENNIAL, Colo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Fandango, the nation's leading digital destination for all things movies, and National CineMedia (NCM), America's Movie Network, announced today a new strategic relationship that will bring Fandango's original video content to the big screen nationwide as part of NCM's "FirstLook," America's #1 cinema advertising pre-show. The deal will also exclusively provide NCM with a select aggregated set of Fandango's moviegoer demographic data, which NCM will combine into its broader data management platform, enabling more effective in-theater advertising and content targeting for NCM's marketing partners.

Starting this month, moviegoers will see advertising spots and a variety of comic vignettes from Fandango's new "We Love Movies" campaign, featuring the company's first ever brand personality, movie superfan Miles Mouvay, played by "Saturday Night Live" star Kenan Thompson. The videos celebrate moviegoing and will be seen as part of NCM's "FirstLook" pre-show on over 20,000 movie screens nationwide.

In the first half of 2016, Fandango will also introduce more original content to NCM's "FirstLook" program, including its award-winning Fandango Movieclips video series, "Reel Kids," hosted by comedian Dan Perrault. "Reel Kids" is a short form series where kids provide their honest and often humorous feelings on theatrical movies.

As part of the relationship, Fandango will provide NCM with select sets of aggregated moviegoer data from various films. NCM will integrate these film specific insights along with other premium data sources as part of an overall integrated data solution to more effectively identify moviegoer segments for improved audience targetability.

"We want to super serve moviegoers anytime and anyplace with engaging movie information and video content," said Fandango President Paul Yanover. "So it was natural for us to team up with NCM, whose ‘FirstLook' in-theater program is enjoyed by millions and is a great distribution platform for Fandango's video content.

"We look forward to working with NCM to deliver exciting new programming to moviegoers, and are happy that our new data relationship can help ensure that the right content and advertising reaches relevant audiences," added Yanover.

"Fandango is a top provider of original content for movie fans, so this relationship is a natural fit," said Cliff Marks, President of Sales and Marketing for NCM. "Their insights into moviegoer behavior will be a key piece of movie audience data that will be added to our growing data and targeting capabilities platform, as we look to better serve our in-theater audiences and marketing partners with timely, targeted and relevant content and messaging."


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LOS ANGELES, CA, November 17, 2015 - Woodland Hills-based Hollywood Software announced today that it has signed a deal with Pure Flix Entertainment to exclusively utilize Hollywood Software's new Distributor 3.0 software for all upcoming film releases, including the much anticipated "God's Not Dead 2: He's Surely Alive." The sequel to the $60 million grossing 2014 film hits theaters on Easter of 2016 and will feature a slew of cameos. The sequel to the faith-based mega-hit stars Melissa Joan Hart, who is best known for her roles in the TV series "Clarissa Explains It All" and "Sabrina the Teenage Witch."

Founded in 2005 by Michael Scott, David A.R. White, Russell Wolfe and Elizabeth Travis, Pure Flix has become the largest Christian entertainment production and distribution studio in the world. Their recent theatrical successes include "God's Not Dead," "Do You Believe?," and "Woodlawn." Pure Flix also provides an online streaming service delivering over 3,000 faith-based and family films, TV shows and educational programming for the whole family.

"Signing this deal with Pure Flix increases Hollywood Software's client list to more than 30 independent U.S. distributors who have a combined domestic box office gross this year of more than $600 million," said David Gajda, Executive Chairman, Hollywood Software. "We are proud to be able to support the needs of startups and fast-growing companies, such as Pure Flix, who need our tools to sell, settle and collect in the most efficient manner. We're excited to be partnering with these companies by offering a highly reliable and efficient product at a price that they can afford."

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By Daniel Garris

Spectre took in $2.43 million on Monday to lead the daily box office for an eleventh consecutive day. The latest installment of Sony and MGM's James Bond franchise was down 71 percent from Sunday and down a sizable 54 percent from last Monday. Spectre has grossed a solid $131.41 million in eleven days. The film is currently running 18 percent ahead of the $110.99 million eleven-day take of 2008's Quantum of Solace and 20 percent behind the $164.96 million eleven-day gross of 2012's Skyfall.

The Peanuts Movie placed in second with $0.887 million. The 3D computer animated adaptation from Fox and Blue Sky fell 87 percent from Sunday and an underwhelming 49 percent from last Monday. While it has been surprisingly front-loaded for a well-received family film thus far, The Peanuts Movie has still grossed a solid $83.19 million in eleven days. That places the film 16 percent behind the $99.56 million eleven-day take of 2012's Wreck-It Ralph.

Love the Coopers claimed third place with $0.584 million. The ensemble holiday comedy from CBS Films and Lionsgate declined 71 percent from Sunday's performance. Love the Coopers has grossed $8.90 million in four days, which is slightly ahead of the film's modest pre-release expectations. The film is running 37.5 percent behind the $14.24 million four-day start of 2005's The Family Stone, though it should be noted that The Family Stone opened in December.

Fox's The Martian took fourth with $0.456 million for the day. The blockbuster Ridley Scott directed 3D sci-fi film starring Matt Damon was down 71 percent from Sunday and down just 26 percent from last Monday. The Martian has grossed an impressive $207.85 million in 46 days thanks in part to continued strong holding power. That already gives the film a current total gross to opening weekend ratio of 3.83 to 1.

The 33 followed closely behind in fifth place with $0.451 million. The Warner Bros. drama starring Antonio Banderas fell 72 percent from Sunday. The 33 has grossed $6.24 million in four days, which is below the film's already modest expectations. The film is running an underwhelming 47 percent behind the $11.74 million four-day start of McFarland, USA earlier this year. On a positive note, The 33 has displayed encouraging early holding power so far.

Open Road's Spotlight remained strong in platform release with a daily take of $120,839 from 60 locations. That gave the awards season hopeful starring Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton a daily per-location average of $2,014. Spotlight has grossed $1.92 million through eleven days of platform release and is scheduled to expand into moderate release this coming Friday.

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