Video game adaptations are renowned for not garnering much success. It has become a frequent occurrence for them to fail, so much so that whenever a new one is announced, there comes with it an accompanying sense of uncertainty and fear. Despite the potential to fail miserably, they’re also fully capable of becoming one hell of a success, with the HBO adaptation of The Last Of Us, Arcane, and the new Super Mario Bros. Movie proving this point to no end. The latter has crossed the rainbow road to become the highest-grossing video game film ever, having smashed multiple records just over a week after its release on April 5th.
Going into them with an open mind is probably the best thing you could do in the face of any video game adaptation, be it a TV show or film. But whether they win or lose in the eyes of critics and audiences, being commercially successful is a whole other story. The anticipation for a new movie can be enough to bring more than enough people in to make it a box office success, no matter its overall quality. Over the years, films like Uncharted and Warcraft, which held the record for highest-grossing video game adaptation for six years until recently, have proven that, financially, despite viewer reception, they can perform very well.
10 ‘Battleship’ (2012)
Unlike most of the entries on this list that are based on video games, 2012s Battleship from director Peter Berg is based on the Hasbro board game of the same name. The movie focuses on the protagonists as they are pitted against extraterrestrial beings that form a naval fleet.
Battleship was a box office bomb. It may be the 10th highest-grossing video game adaptation to date, but having only grossed $313,477,717 against its estimated budget of $209-$220 million means it lost both Universal Studios and Hasbro millions of dollars, $150 million, to be exact.
9 ”Resident Evil: The Final Chapter’ (2016)
We’re up to our necks in Resident Evil games, remakes, reboots, and the latest Netflix TV show. But of the seven Resident Evil movies over the last 20 years, the final installment from the original series of six became its most financially successful, albeit not so much in the eyes of critics. Although considering critic scores on Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t exceed 37%, with this one being the highest rated, you’re better off forming your own opinion.
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter centers on multiple characters from the games, including the Umbrella Corporation. It was intended to link back to the first installment from back in 2002 and connect everything together. 2016’s The Final Chapter became the highest-rated and highest-grossing in the series, earning a worldwide total of $314,101,190 on a budget of just $40 million.
8 ‘Prince of Persia: Sands of Time’ (2010)
Broderbund released their first two installments of the popular video game way back in 1989 and 1993. But there were multiple future releases from other game developers, including Ubisoft and Red Orb Entertainment. However, the 2010 Prince of Persia film from Disney is based on the 2003 reboot from Ubisoft.
Talk about conflicting reviews. While some people loved the reboot, others not so much. It scored a 6.6/10 on IBDb but a 37% on Rotten Tomatoes. But what did you think? Despite its conflicting interests, it stood as the highest-grossing video game adaptation for six years until Warcraft overtook it in 2016. On a widely estimated $150-$200 million budget, it grossed $336,359,676, now residing in 8th.
7 ‘The Angry Birds Movie’ (2016)
The mobile game sensation that had everybody splitting feathers was made into a feature-length film in 2016 when The Angry Birds Movie flew onto cinema screens. The bright and colorful animated adventure garnered wavering reviews from viewers, with critics and audiences not 100% on board with the end result.
As with many animated video game adaptations, they don’t tend to have a logical plot. They take elements from the games and do with it what they can, especially when it comes to games like Angry Birds that generally don’t have a solid plot to work with. Different colored birds with various abilities that must stop green pigs from taking over their home? When you put it like that, it really doesn’t make much sense. But hey, it’s fun to play, nonetheless. The movie grossed $352,288,341 on $73 million.
6 ‘Uncharted’ (2022)
Fans of the insanely popular Naughty Dog game series were unsure of the casting choices from the moment they were announced, but let’s be honest, it really wasn’t as bad as people made it out to be. Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg had fantastic on-screen chemistry as the beloved characters of Nathan Drake and Victor “Sully” Sullivan. Plus, there’s no denying that the film was an enjoyable ride. Could it have been better? Sure. But that doesn’t make it a bad movie in the slightest.
If it helps, take it as an adventure movie with some great action sequences, comedy, and a good-old yo-ho pirate plot. Music from the games and a cameo from Nolan North (Nathan Drake’s voice actor) himself were brilliant added bonuses as well. Uncharted ended on somewhat of a cliffhanger, and if done right, the potential for a great sequel could very much exist. Who knows? Maybe one day, we’ll head into uncharted waters again. On a $120 million budget, this pirate adventure grossed $400,689,914.
5 ‘Sonic the Hedgehod 2’ (2022)
What was your favorite game with Sonic the Hedgehog and friends? Was it the classic retro Sonic? Forces, Runners, or was it alongside Mario in the Olympic Games series? Whatever it was, this speedy blue hedgehog sped into many childhoods and has since stuck around for years, bringing dozens more games, cartoons, and, more recently, two feature-length movies.
The second in this animated duo came in April last year following the similar success of its predecessor. Both films feature recognizable characters from Sega’s iconic games, including Eggman, Tails, Shadow, Knuckles, and more, making for a goofy, all-around family fun time. Breaking multiple records with its worldwide gross of $405,421,518 on a budget of $90-$110 million means it did exceedingly well for itself.
4 ‘Rampage’ (2018)
Dwayne Johnson is no stranger to action movies. He’s done more than we can count over the years, bringing memorable additions to the franchise like the Fast and Furious series, San Andreas, the Jumanji films, and Skyscraper. In 2018, he starred in the action-packed video game adaption Ramage alongside Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Naomi Harris, and more.
The film received mixed reviews. It focused on an Albino Western Lowland Gorilla after he is exposed to a pathogen when a canister crash lands and explodes in his enclosure. Albeit based on the game of the same name, the film is a little wishy-washy at times. But if you’re in the mood for a King Kong-style adventure movie, Rampage is a worthy contender. It grossed $427,947,217 on an estimated $120-$140 million budget.
3 ‘Pokémon: Detective Pikachu’ (2019)
Who would’ve thought this would work? Ryan Reynolds playing an adorable fluffy Pikachu in a live-action Pokémon feature. Who’d have thunk? But it really worked! And upon the first trailer drop, people were immediately anticipating its release. The Pokémon looked fantastic, the story looked good, and honestly, we were all excited to see Charizard in all his big-screen fiery glory. And Mewtwo, of course!
Pokémon: Detective Pikachu features an array of everyone’s favorite Pokémon, from Greninja, Charmander, Psyduck, Cubone, Snorlax, and even a herd of Bulbasaurs. Focusing on Pikachu and Tim Goodman (Justice Smith), it follows the journey of the aforementioned duo on a quest to find the latter’s missing father. The anticipation and excitement surrounding his movie proved itself in its commercial success, bringing in $429,061,724 against its $150 million budget. “Pika, Pika!”
2 ‘Warcraft’ (2016)
Until recently, Duncan Jones‘ Warcraft came in at number one until The Super Mario Bros. Movie beat it out of the top spot. The film is an evident representation of the fact that just because a movie does well at the box office doesn’t mean it’s going to sit well among all those who watched it. However, it broke a record when it became the first video game adaptation to surpass $400 million worldwide.
The film followed characters from the bestselling game on a journey to restore peace to Azeroth. But of course, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Whether or not you were satisfied with the end result, it’s visually impressive, with some remarkable CGI and character design thrown into the mix. Warcraft didn’t manage to break even, bringing in $438,899,824 on a $160 million budget.
1 ‘The Super Mario Bros. Movie’ (2023)
“Wahoo!” The Super Mario Bros. Movie has taken many people by surprise. What thousands thought would be another failure has proved them wrong on multiple levels. When the first teaser trailer dropped, everybody focused on the two lines that Chris Pratt said, but having actually now seen the film, it has far exceeded our expectations.
The music, visuals, easter eggs for the games throughout the years, and yes, even the voice acting were all phenomenal. Plus, Jack Black‘s “Peaches” song was a comedic addition. Overall, it has performed very well, garnering some well-deserved success. On a budget of $100 million, it has currently earned $724 million in less than two weeks of release, breaking numerous records in the process. But with its commercial gross increasing daily, who knows, could it be the first video game adaptation ever to surpass $1 billion? “Lets-a-go!”
NEXT: Chris Pratt’s 10 Best Movies, Ranked According to IMDb