For “Street Fighter” fans, the day Legendary Entertainment announced a new live-action film from the franchise is in the works was the most important day of their lives. But for Legendary, it was Tuesday — or rather, Monday, actually.
Legendary has struck a deal with Capcom, the video game publisher behind “Street Fighter,” to acquire the exclusive rights for live-action film and television adaptations of the the seminal fighting game franchise. A feature film based on the games is currently in early development. It, along with all other projects, will be co-developed and produced by Legendary in conjunction with Capcom.
The news comes three months before the release of the franchise’s newest entry, “Street Fighter 6,” which will hit PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PCs on June 2. The last entry, “Street Fighter V,” was released in 2016, and received two updated versions in 2018 and 2020.
Like the majority of fighting games, “Street Fighter” typically has a fairly bare bones plot. Installments generally revolve around a colorful cast of martial artists competing in a world fighting tournament organized by the international crime syndicate Shadaloo. The playable roster of characters in the franchise has risen to well above 100 over the years, but the de facto lead is the Hadouken-hurling Japanese martial artist Ryu. Other series staples include Ryu’s best friend Ken, his arch-enemy Akuma, Chinese Interpol officer Chun-Li, British super solider Cammy, American air force major Guile, a bizarre green-skinned beast man Blanka, and the primary antagonist, Shadaloo leader M. Bison.
Created by Takashi Nishiyama and Hiroshi Matsumoto, the original “Street Fighter” was released in 1987 to modest success. But the franchise’s popularity was truly cemented by the 1991 followup “Street Fighter II: The World Warrior,” which grossed an estimated $10.56 billion through arcade play and sold over 15 million copies for home consoles. The game and its sequels singlehandedly established many of the conventions and mechanics that define the fighting game genre, and the franchise on a whole has sold 49 million units worldwide across its various entries and spinoffs.
The success of the games has spawned two prior live-action films. The first, 1994’s “Street Fighter,” received negative reviews but was relatively successful commercially and since has developed a following over the years, particularly for Raul Julia’s deliciously hammy performance as M. Bison. The second, 2009’s “The Legend of Chun-Li,” received just as negative reviews and was an outright flop at the box office. Three anime films and two animated series based on the franchise have also been released.
Legendary has previously produced two theatrical films based on video game franchises: 2016’s “Warcraft” and 2019’s “Detective Pikachu.” Both are currently the highest-grossing video game films of all time, making over $430 million each, although “Warcraft” still failed to break even at the box office.
A sequel to “Detective Pikachu,” based on the endlessly popular “Pokémon” franchise, is in development at Legendary, with “Portlandia” co-creator Jonathan Krisel set to direct. Last year, the studio was reported to be working on a film adaptation of the (in)famous first-person shooter franchise “Duke Nukem,” from the team behind “Cobra Kai.”