Sony Unit to Produce Movies, TV Shows Based on Games

Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) has launched PlayStation Productions to transform the company’s 100+ video games into film and television projects. The production company, headed by Asad Qizilbash, is at work on its first projects on Sony Pictures’ Culver City lot. SIE Worldwide Studios chair Shawn Layden, who also oversees the new production company, noted that, with 25 years developing games, the company believes “now is a good time to look at other media opportunities across streaming or film or television.”

The Hollywood Reporter, in an exclusive, notes that the original content library includes “adventure to sci-fi to action to mystery to horror.” “Instead of licensing our IP out to studios, we felt the better approach was for us to develop and produce for ourselves,” said Qizilbash. “One, because we’re more familiar, but also because we know what the PlayStation community loves.”

Unlike Activision Blizzard and Ubisoft, both of which have film/TV units, PlayStation Productions has a much deeper catalog as well as Sony Pictures as a distribution arm. PlayStation Productions will also produce its projects in-house.

“For the last year and a half, two years, we’ve spent time trying to understand the industry, talking to writers, directors, producers,” said Qizilbash. “We talked to [film producer] Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Kevin Feige to really get an understanding of the industry.” Layden added that they also examined what Marvel has done to turn comic books into “the biggest thing in the film world.”

“It would be a lofty goal to say we’re following in their footsteps, but certainly we’re taking inspiration from that,” said Layden. Although film adaptations of games haven’t always worked well, Hollywood is friendlier to the concept of adapting games largely because today’s directors and producers play them.

“The real challenge is, how do you take 80 hours of gameplay and make it into a movie?” asked Layden. “The answer is, you don’t. What you do is you take that ethos you write from there specifically for the film audience.” The story, said Qizilbash, will determine whether a game title is adapted for film or TV.

One big goal, said Layden, is to “create an opportunity for fans of our games to have more touch points with our franchises,” noting that fans sometimes have to wait three or four years for a game sequel. “We want to give them places they can go and still have more of that experience and see the characters they love evolve in different ways.”

Both also feel strongly about holding on to creative control over the company’s IP. “We created this entity to manage and control the process of getting the right director, the right actors, the right screenwriter,” said Qizilbash.

Layden agreed, noting that his goal is, “to be the first gaming entity to do something lasting and meaningful in a completely different medium.” Layden reported that there is no pressure to produce a certain number of titles each year. “We don’t have to rush to market,” he said. “The company has been very accommodating to our ambition around this, to grow this in a measured, thoughtful way.”