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The 15 Highest Grossing Video Game Movies of All Time

Movies based on video games are notoriously sketchy when it comes to their quality and do not have a great track record often missing some of the finer points of what makes the games so great or completely altering the characters and storylines to suit the cinematic storytelling process better (remember the Super Mario Bros. film?). Cynics amongst the movie going audiences may suggest that it is because the film already has a guaranteed fan base who will pay to see it that filmmakers don't have to try too hard.

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Whatever the case may be, these movies can still generate some serious cash and that's, probably, why they keep getting made. Here we look at some of the biggest money spinners from the video game movie genre.


15. Hitman - $99.97m

A film based on a smash-hit video game that had a top-notch storyline about a nameless assassin should have been a runaway success given that the protagonist doesn't have much to say and so the film could be an action packed thriller. It looked like it was going that way as well since it was produced by the guy who made the Taken films and Fox were hoping it would launch a franchise for them.

 

Although it took nearly $100m, its action packed budget was apparently pretty big and audiences didn't really think too much of the film as it was very samey to other action films that had come before it. Fox tried again with Hitman: Agent 47 which was, arguably, an even poorer film but cost a heck of a lot less to make.


14. Resident Evil - $102m

Resident Evil is one of the few video-game films that has actually spawned a successful franchise, albeit a relatively small one. Based on the  breakout of the story of the zombie-creating T-virus, it was a fairly low budget film and didn't do too great in domestic markets but was far better received internationally.

 

With six movies in the franchise, it is one of the few films on this list that can truly be classed as a hit due to its solid fan base that keep coming back for more.


13. Mortal Kombat - $122m

Often derided as a pretty bad film, this adaptation of the beat-em-up fighter was actually pretty darned successful and took $70m in domestic markets that equates to around $139m in modern money once you factor in inflation. It also did relatively well in international markets in a time when they weren't as big a base as they are now.

 

Generating a god-awful, franchise-killing sequel, most do not remember this film fondly but they still paid out to see it. 


12. Resident Evil: Apocalypse - $129m

The second installment of the Resident Evil film franchise that yet again was slated by critics, its success relied heavily on the fact that its modest budget and cross-over appeal of fusing the video game, action and horror genres into one meant it had a wider appeal than many other attempts at trying to crack the lucrative game to film transformation.

 

Set a month after the events of the first movie, it follows on pretty rapidly from where it left off.


11. Pokemon The Movie: 2000 - $140m

The sequel to the first Pokemon movie, it was pretty much always going to be guaranteed a hit given that the franchise is so huge with a global TV series, card game and video games all coming under its umbrella, enough people were going to get out of the house to see it regardless of content and that's basically what happened as it received a critical panning but made back a healthy sum.

 

What also made it a hit was its pretty low budget of $30m and the fact it was family friendly.


10. Resident Evil: Extinction - $148m

The third in the franchise that pretty much followed the same formula as its predecessors of low budget and high turnout in foreign markets to make it a bigger success than the critics thought it deserved to be. Still, a bit of a change of scenery allowed viewers to get more of a sense of this post-apocalyptic world.

 

Branching out a bit further than the other two films before it. There still wasn't a whole deal to it.


9. Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life - $156m

The second Tomb Raider film, it followed off from the success of the first one but didn't quite hit the same heights although having a very healthy budget of $100m. One of the icons of video games, especially in the 90s, it was only a matter of time before Lara Croft got her own film and this sequel proved that the studio thought it was franchise material.

 

Making enough money to generate interest in a third movie, star Angelina Jolie pulled out of the project and so it never happened although the franchise is set to be re-booted with Alicia Vikander in the near future.


8. Pokemon: The First Movie - $163m

As the title suggests, this was the first movie of a franchise, that knew it was going to be a franchise. Already a massive global force, the Pokemon brand moved into films and still had enough hype around it for this to be a pretty big deal! As such, it became the highest grossing anime film ever made and garnered a sequel just a year later.

 

Again, with just a relatively small budget of $30m, the takeaway made it a huge success.


7. Need For Speed - $203m

Many years after the first Need For Speed game, the idea of a film for it came about and played heavily on the success of its lead star Aaron Paul who had just finished filming the smash hit TV show  Breaking Bad. But the racing genre is even more notorious than the video game genre when it comes to movies and so it did very poorly domestically.

Despite this, over 75% of its revenue came from foreign markets and it was big enough to possibly generate a sequel.


6. Resident Evil: Retribution - $240m

The fifth film in the franchise, there's not a lot more we can say about the franchise as by this point they seem to have already cracked the formula for success. It had a bigger budget than some of its other outing at $65m and made $240m worldwide with only $42m of that coming domestically. This success meant that the final installment of the film series will be released this year.

 

Yet again proving it is review proof, this was not well received by critics. 


5. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider - $274m

The first of the Lara Croft movies that took one of the first sex symbols of video gaming and hired one of the biggest sex symbols in film to play her in a role reminiscent of the classic Indiana Jones  films, this has winner written all over it for the movie studio that got the rights to this and since it came out long before many other action heroine films it had no problem attracting all genders to theaters.

 

Grossing $131 million domestically, it remains one of the highest grossing video game films in its home market.


4. Resident Evil: Afterlife - $296m

The fourth installment of the Resident Evil films is where it peaked in terms of box office success for the series as it was the only film in the franchise to take $60m domestically as well as a further $236 million from international markets to bring it to a whopping total despite more hate from critics. As the fifth installment slipped further down the list, it would suggest this was the last of the films that didn't suffer from genre fatigue.

 

Most of its success comes from being the first of the series being shot and released in 3D at a time when the gimmick was still alive and well and so it benefited from inflated ticket prices.


3. Prince of Persia; The Sands of Time - $336m

Pouring $200m into the making of this film, Disney were hoping that its star power and special effects would be enough to get it over the line but it gained only mixed reviews and only made $100m domestically relying on the $240m from international markets to push it into a profitable area. There were hopes this would become a franchise for Disney but with only a mediocre response that didn't happen.

 

Fans of the games didn't seem to mind the film too much but it didn't do enough to draw in other movie goers.


2. The Angry Birds Movie - $349m

An addictive phone app game that somehow got the Hollywood treatment, this film was supposed to be a family-friendly cash-in on the money-spinning game and was as it became only the econd film based off a video game to cross $100 million domestically, after Lara Croft:Tomb Raider, but with a budget of $70m, it was hardly a runaway success.

 

It performed well enough internationally to start planning a sequel though.


1. Warcraft - $433m

This may come as a shock to many as this film did so badly in its domestic market, it took only $47m from a $160m budget but in China it took an incredible $200m and proved just how important international markets are for films these days and leaves producers considering the unique possibility of producing an American-made sequel without a domestic release.

 

Considering it's the highest grossing video game film ever made, it does seem rather strange.

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