Netflix is dabbling in more video game franchises. Following the success of “The Witcher,” the streaming service is adapting the “Dragon’s Lair” video games into a live-action feature film, with Ryan Reynolds in talks to produce and star.
The news marks one of the more curious video game film adaptations in recent memory. While most movies based on video games utilize popular contemporary franchises, the “Dragon’s Lair” heyday was back in the 1980s, when video game arcades were still enjoying their golden age. The original 1983 Dragon’s Lair arcade game received considerable attention for its astounding graphics, which boasted full motion video in an era where video game graphics were still mostly limited to primitive pixels.
The “Dragon’s Lair” franchise eventually expanded to include a variety of sequels and even a short-lived cartoon series in the 1980s. Though the original arcade game has been ported to practically every major video game console since then, the franchise has essentially lain dormant for decades. Don Bluth and Gary Oldman, who worked on the original arcade game, created a crowdfunding campaign to create a “Dragon’s Lair” film several years ago. The campaign earned over $700,000 and the duo still update backers on the project.
Variety reported that Bluth and Oldman are among the producers on the Netflix adaptation, but did not mention the crowdfunding campaign. Sources close to production confirmed the project to and Reynold’s potential involvement to IndieWire but did not discuss the crowdfunding campaign.
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For the Netflix film, Roy Lee will also produce via Vertigo Entertainment alongside Trevor Engelson of Underground Films. Jon Pomeroy will also produce, as will Reynolds, through Maximum Effort. Dan and Kevin Hageman are attached as script writers.
Additional details, including plot information, are unknown. The original “Dragon’s Lair” game focused on a knight who had to rescue a princess from an evil dragon, who had locked the princess in an evil wizard’s castle. (The arcade game was released many years before video games were known for having particularly nuanced plots)
From “Tomb Raider” to “Warcraft” and the infamous “Super Mario Bros.,” there has been no shortage of video game film adaptations over the years. Though most video game-based films have been critically savaged, film creators have made some strides in recent years. While “Pokémon: Detective Pikachu” (which Reynolds also starred in) and “Sonic the Hedgehog” received middling-at-best reviews from IndieWire’s Kate Erbland and David Ehrlich, respectively, the films were nonetheless notable for being the rare adaptations that weren’t universally reviled. (And they both did quite well at the box office.)
Netflix has had more success with video game properties than most of its competitors. The platform recently released a third season of its “Castlevania” series, based on the classic video game franchise, and renewed the animated series for a fourth season earlier today. Netflix released a video game based on “Stranger Things” — that show’s characters actually played a bit of “Dragon’s Age” in Season 2 — to promote the series’ third season last year and also bought the distribution rights to a film based on Ubisoft’s “Tom Clancy’s The Division,” which will star Jessica Chastain and Jake Gyllenhaal.
The streaming service also released “The Witcher” last December, which received particularly strong praise from fans and a favorable review from IndieWire’s Ben Travers. Though “The Witcher” series is based off Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski’s novels, the franchise received a considerable spike in popularity stateside due to the trilogy of acclaimed “The Witcher” video games by CD Projekt Red. Work on “The Witcher” Season 2 has already begun and Netflix has also greenlit an animated “The Witcher” feature film to tie into the television show.