With Warcraft and The Angry Birds Movie doing well at the box office this year (well, at least internationally for Warcraft), there has been a lot of talk about the future of video game movies. And some new information has come out that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson nearly starred in a big screen adaptation of Saints Row.
“The film had a tremendous amount going for it,” the movie’s producer Nick Nunziata writes. “Game developer THQ really had the right approach. Everything was moving in an exciting direction. We had interest from huge directors. A-list stars were on the menu. The script was a perfect video game adaptation, faithful to the source material but with a swagger and big screen energy all its own. To me, it felt like a modern-day Escape from New York, only bigger and with that Saints Row attitude.”
Brought on board to write the project was Peter Aperlo, who worked with fellow producer Lloyd Levin (who had previously brought Tomb Raider to the big screen) on the video game Watchmen: The End is Nigh. “At our meeting, he handed me Saints Row II and sent me off to play it, and for the next couple of weeks, I immersed myself in the crazy world of Stilwater,” he says. “Loved the anarchic, hyper-violent parody of society, but especially the insane characters like Shaundi and Johnny Gat. This was at a time when they were still developing Saints Row III, and my initial thought was to set the movie between II and III.”
However when The Rock became involved, Aperlo had to re-write the script into a PG-13 mould, removing all of the swearing and nudity. “If you’ve played the game, you’ll know how hard that would be and still keep it Saints Row,” Aperlo adds. “I couldn’t even use the ‘Phuc Mi Phuc Yue’ Vietnamese Seafood sign I wanted to have.”
Nunziata notes that the project fell apart when THQ went bankrupt. “Who knows what the final film could have ended up like, especially under the direction of someone interesting,” Nunziata writes. “I know that the extremely gifted Álex de la Iglesia was on board at one point. I remember pushing hard for Dan Trachtenberg, who recently broke big with 10 Cloverfield Lane. Dwayne Johnson has only reinforced his place in the cinematic food chain.”
Would you have liked to have seen a Saints Row movie with The Rock? Even if it wasn’t R-rated?