From the Arcade to the Theater: The Video Game Movie High Score Board

With Sonic the Hedgehog speeding into theaters on Friday, Feb. 14, a look at the high-scoring video game films that have come before it.

By Billy Nilles Feb 14, 2020 11:00 AMTags
Video Game Movies, Sonic The Hedgehog, Lara Croft Tomb Raider, Prince of Persia, Detective PikachuShutterstock; Melissa Herwitt/E! Illustration

The video game movie is a risky gamble.

When done right, as was the case with last year's Detective Pikachu with its inventive, tongue-in-cheek approach to its source material aided by adorable character design and the always-welcome Ryan Reynolds lending his supremely sarcastic vocal talents to the title character, there's oodles of money to be made and film franchises waiting to be born.

And when it goes the other way, well, look no further than the first-ever film adaptation of a beloved video game series, 1993's Super Mario Bros. Or better yet, don't. No one needs to put themselves through that.

The latest beloved property to transition out of the arcade and onto the big screen is Sonic the Hedgehog, the long-gestating adaptation of the beloved platformer video game series from Sega. In theaters now, the film features Ben Schwartz as the voice of the blue anthropomorphic hedgehog and Jim Carrey as his nemesis, the evil Dr. Robotnik.

Video Game Movie Adaptations Ranked by Their Success

The film's already overcome the hurdle that was the overwhelmingly negative reaction to the first trailer back in April 2019, with fans put off by Sonic's overly humanoid appearance, forcing a delayed release so director Jeff Fowler could tinker with the design of the beloved character. While the jury's still out on whether he got it right enough to lure fans of the franchise to the theater, let's take a look at all the video game movies that have come before it and see who tops the high score board.

18. Double Dragon

This 1994 adaptation of the popular late '80s arcade game somehow starred Mark Dacascos and Scott Wolf as twin martial artists Jimmy and Billy Lee. It only made $2.3 million worldwide and has an eight percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Oof.

17. Wing Commander

Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Matthew Lillard starred in this 1999 film loosely based on the video game series of the same name that only earned $11.6 million worldwide and a 10 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

16. Super Mario Bros.

This 1993 adaptation of the Nintendo classic, the first of its kind, is notorious for being a bit of a stinker. The film, which starred Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo as Mario and Luigi, was an unmitigated flop, making $20.9 million on a $48 million budget.

15. Doom

This 2005 film, loosely based on the video game series of the same name, starring Karl Urban, Rosamund Pike and Dwayne Johnson was both a critical and commercial flop. It only made $56 million on a budget estimated somewhere between $60-70 million and has a 19 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

14. Max Payne

This 2008 neo-noir adaptation of the video game of the same name, starring Mark Wahlberg as the titular character, opened to dismal reviews, with a Rotten Tomatoes rating of only 16 percent. But its worldwide box office of $85 million against a $35 million budge made it a modest success.

13. Street Fighter

There have been two films released attached to this iconic video game franchise. Between the Jean-Claude Van Damme-starring 1994 original and the Chun-Li-focused 2009 follow-up, a combined $112.2 million has been made at the box office, globally.

12. Silent Hill

Six years after the Radha Mitchell-starring adaptation of this video game series scared up $97 million at the box office, a follow-up starring Game of Thrones' Kit Harington arrived with a dismal eight percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It did help bump the combined global receipts up to $149.9 million, however.

11. Mortal Kombat

Between the 1994 original and 1997's Annihilation, the Mortal Kombat film franchise has earned a combined $173.6 million at the global box office. A reboot is due in 2021.

10. Hitman

The two attempts at getting a film franchise based on this video game series, one starring Timothy Olyphant in 2007 and another starring Rupert Friend in 2015, have earned a combined $182.3 million globally.

9. Need for Speed

Aaron Paul starred in this 2014 adaptation of the popular racing video game franchise that, despite a tepid 22 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, earned $203.3 million globally against a budget of just $66 million.

8. Assassin's Creed

Producer Michael Fassbender played two characters in this 2016 adaptation of the popular video game franchise that was set in the same universe, but featured its own original story set during the Spanish Inquisition. Critics weren't especially kind, landing it an 18 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It took in $240 million globally against a budget of $125 million.

7. Tomb Raider

Alicia Vikander took over the role of iconic Lara Croft for this 2018 reboot of the film franchise based on the enduring video game series. Earning a 52 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the film pulled in $274.6 million globally against a budget estimated between $90-106 million. A sequel is scheduled to be released in March 2021.

6. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Critics didn't especially love this Jake Gyllenhaal-starring 2010 adaptation of the video game of the same name, what with the actor exactly being, you know, Persian. However, it went on to gross over $336 million globally against a budget estimated at somewhere between $150-200 million, making it the highest-grossing video game film ever at the time of release.

5. Rampage

This 2018 film based on the video game series of the same name proved that teaming Dwayne Johnson with albino gorilla George was a recipe for box office success. The film grossed over $428 million worldwide and was even somewhat embraced by critics, with its Rotten Tomatoes rating sitting at 52 percent.

4. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

When Angelina Jolie debuted as the titular heroine in the 2001 adaptation of the hit video game series, she found herself starring in the highest-grossing video game movie ever. Between it and the 2003 sequel The Cradle of Life, her entries in the franchise have earned a combined $431.2 million globally.

3. Detective Pikachu

The most well-reviewed video game film on this list, with a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 69 percent, the 2019 adaptation loosely based on a 2016 video game of the same name features Ryan Reynolds as the voice and facial motion capture actor for the titular character. With a worldwide gross of over $433 million, it is also currently the second highest-grossing video game film adaptation of all time. A sequel is in development.

2. Warcraft

This 2016 film based on the video game series of the same name is quite a conundrum. Critics were not fans, leaving it with a 28 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and its worldwide box office tally of over $439 million was considered a financial disappointment. And yet, it remains the single highest-grossing video game adaptation of all time. Go figure.

1. Resident Evil

All hail Queen Alice. Over the course of six films, beginning in 2002 and ending with 2017's The Final Chapter, Milla Jovovich has starred in the most successful video game film franchise in history. The sextet of films have earned over $1.2 billion in combined global box office receipts. It's no wonder that she and the franchise's director Paul W.S. Anderson (also her husband) are reuniting to bring the video game series Monster Hunter to the big screen in September 2020.

Sonic the Hedgehog is in theaters now.

Watch: Jim Carrey Enjoys Playing the Villain in "Sonic the Hedgehog"