Another nameless protagonist is coming to a theater near you. A Fortnite movie in the style of Twisted Metal and Monster Hunter is currently in heavy consideration over at Epic Games, The Information reports on Monday. Talks have erupted in recent weeks over the possibility of a brand-new overarching entertainment division from within Epic itself, with the central aim of developing scripted programming — an industry term for adapted cinematic fiction. Three Lucasfilm employees have shifted allegiances ahead of the news: former vice president of physical production Jason McGatlin is now Epic’s president of special projects, joining Lynn Bart as head of business affairs and Chris Furia as vice president of production finance. McGatlin previously executive produced all Star Wars films released under the Disney banner.
News of Epic’s impending foray into multi-format programming (with the Fortnite movie as its ticket) arrives on the heels of Apple and Google’s ongoing lawsuit with the Unreal Engine creator. Epic employed a direct-pay system for iOS and Google Play versions of Fortnite last year in an effort to circumvent the 30% revenue cut on all in-app purchases made through both purveyors. Both storefronts responded by removing Fortnite and blocking any and all future purchases made within, prompting Epic Games to challenge them in the United States District Court for the Northern State of California. Apple filed a counterclaim stating Epic violated the digital shop’s terms of contract as a developer, with Google following soon after.
Epic appealed the courtroom decision ordering the Fortnite publisher to pay Apple a whopping $6 million in financial relief, for all earnings made outside of the App Store. Google makes a similar demand. The Fortnite movie, among others, is presumably being considered as Epic loses a great chunk of its current customers hailing from the hugely profitable mobile market.
The hypothetical Fortnite movie is just one of many profit schemes Epic could use to recoup its legal and financial losses. Leveraging PC and console titles into easily accessible ports for mobile devices is the new gold standard when it comes to multiplayer gaming. Though conventional consoles still boast a dedicated fanbase, most normies or casual players are introduced to popular video games thanks to the rise of mobile gaming; the smartphone (and in turn, the tablet) is a previously untapped goldmine of demand, and perhaps the most promising. Console and PC gaming remains a niche industry, while its mobile equivalent has easily appealed to the masses.
Big entertainment names like Marvel/Disney, Electronic Arts, and Activision Blizzard have taken advantage of the medium to make an easy buck among casual fans of their respective IPs; the comic book giant has been developing massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) since the success of Marvel: Future Fight and Marvel Contest of Champions, while EA released FIFA, The Sims, and NBA and Activision made Call of Duty: Mobile. Fortnite’s contemporaries — PUBG Mobile, Minecraft, and Among Us — have managed to stay relevant in the mobile scene thanks to considerable adjustments to both Apple and Google’s digital stores, while massive IPs like Pokémon and Harry Potter develop several hasty offerings in response to the ongoing craze. With its legal disputes hampering profit, not to mention reach, Epic Games is falling behind. At this point, the only way to recover is to expand its media arm into feature films and TV, with a Fortnite movie being an excellent entry point into the business.
Similar to Anthony Mackie’s Twisted Metal and last year’s Monster Hunter, a Fortnite movie would have to feature a completely original storyline using the general mechanics of the battle royale as framework. It should, ideally, reintroduce the nameless player character as an actual protagonist, with personality quirks and a compelling backstory to match, and pit them against a massive PvP of one against 99 in a desperate bid to either claim a special prize or elude certain death.
A Fortnite movie could take inspiration from Squid Game and reinterpret the stakes accordingly, giving us a decidedly more grim version of Fortnite, or create something lighter and goofier in the spirit of the original. The latter would prove immensely more interesting, since a battle royale of that nature has never been made or attempted by Hollywood before. Most movies centered around the genre are somber takes on what it means to fight for your life in a setting where engaging has dire, life-threatening consequences for the player; a good example would be The Hunger Games or Gerard Butler’s Gamer. In the real world, being made to compete in a battle royale isn’t fun or campy; it’s cruel and sadistic. A lighthearted take on the genre would definitely be one for the books. Like Free Guy for Fortnite players. Or Twisted Metal, if it makes good on its promise to be an action comedy over survival horror.