Monument Valley: Mobile game being turned into film

by Elena Cresci, interview by Steffan Powell
Newsbeat reporters

Image source, UsTwo Games
Image caption,
Monument Valley has been downloaded more than 160 million times

A mobile phone game developed in East London is being turned into a Hollywood film.

Indie puzzle game Monument Valley is set to become the latest crossover between video games and film.

The first game was made by a team of eight at UsTwo Games, based in Shoreditch.

Now, 160 million downloads and a movie deal later, its head Dan Gray said the team is excited to see where this new medium will take the story next.

Image source, Dan Gray
Image caption,
Dan isn't worried about the "video game movie curse"

"I keep not knowing where this crazy rollercoaster is going to end," he told Newsbeat.

"To get to this point, from a group of people in Shoreditch just wanting to make something they were proud of, it's really humbling."

Oscar-winning team

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In the game, players help the main character Princess Ida navigate brightly-coloured and ever-changing architecture to complete her quest.

Paramount Pictures will develop the film with Weed Road Pictures.

And they've brought on an award-winning director to make it happen.

Patrick Osborne won an Oscar for his short animated film which chronicled a man's love life through the eyes of his puppy.

Figure caption,
Warning: Third party content may contain adverts

The video game movie curse

There is, however, the risk of the dreaded video game movie curse.

Over the years, film adaptations of video games have earned a reputation for being bad, struggling to break through in the same way comic book adaptations have.

"What it comes down to is people always want games translated that have a solid story already," said Dan. "So things that are acted out with voice acting or with lines or any of this kind of stuff.

"There are constant comparisons made between what happens in the game and what happens in the movie, and you're inevitably going to upset certain people."

But Bafta-winning Monument Valley is minimal both in terms of storyline and dialogue.

Figure caption,
Warning: Third party content may contain adverts

In fact, Princess Ida remains silent throughout.

This is a world in which "hundreds of different stories" can be told, Dan says.

"One of the reasons we decided to give this the time of day is that it's a story that leaves a lot to your imagination," he added.

"The story of Monument Valley one and two is down to a player's interpretation.

"If the film is something that captures the identity of the visuals and the feeling and the characters they can go wherever they want with that.

"It's not defined by certain lines and conversations that took place in the game we've already made."

'Interactive entertainment can be more'

Image source, UsTwo Games
Image caption,
A team of eight made the first Monument Valley game

Looking back to when they began making that first game five-and-a-half years ago, Dan told Newsbeat their aim was just to make it as beautiful as possible.

He said: "We just thought, what would it be like if we made something that was so beautiful you could hang it on your wall as a piece of art?"

Their initial hope was to sell 100,000 copies - a target they've long since passed, collecting numerous awards along the way as well as making a sequel.

Now, they hope the film will introduce a whole new audience to the game.

"My hope is they come back to the game and they experience what Monument Valley has to offer and show that interactive entertainment can be more than what is usually portrayed in the mainstream," said Dan.

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