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There are a couple of reasons that movies get made. One is to create a new piece of artistic expression, the other is to make money. However, the reason the Assassin's Creed movie is being made is neither of those things, at least not directly. The studio behind the Assassin's Creed video game franchise says that they won't see much money from the film adaptation of their property, but they see the film as a major way to advertise the brand.
While many video games have been licensed for movies in recent years, Ubisoft, the French video game publisher, actually took the step of creating a movie production company in order to turn their most popular properties into movies. While one would assume, as a company, they expect to make money off their first major production, Alain Corre, the European leader of Ubisoft tells MCV that their plan to make money off the Assassin's Creed movie is really by using it to get more people to buy the games.
We [Ubisoft] are not going to earn a lot of money from it. It is a lot more a marketing thing, it is also good for the image of the brand. Although we will make some money, it is not the purpose of this movie. The purpose is to bring Assassin's Creed to more people. We have our core fans, but what we would like is to put this franchise in front of a lot more people who, maybe, will then pick up future Assassin's Creed games.
So, while Ubisoft doesn't expect to make a lot of money off the Assassin's Creed movie, there is a profit plan from the project, it's just more of a "long game" deal. Of course, the fact that Ubisoft isn't expecting to make a lot of money doesn't necessarily mean that the movie itself won't. Ubisoft isn't the only production company involved, there's a small organization called 20th Century Fox that probably hopes to make a lot of money. What this most likely means is that Ubisoft's studio side may not have put a lot of money into the project, and therefore they won't be getting a lot out of it. This keeps their risk low if the movie does struggle.
At the end of the day, Ubisoft is a video game publisher, so it's not surprising that they see all of their branding exercises in those terms. They also know that they need to do something to help boost the game series. Ubisoft got in the habit of releasing an Assassin's Creed game every year, which seemed to cause a noticeable decline in the games' quality. Following the much loved Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, the publisher released Assassin's Creed: Unity, a title that was more a collection of bugs and glitches on a disc than it was a video game. While the most recent game in the franchise, Assassin's Creed: Syndicate was much better received by critics, its poor sales were blamed on the problems of the previous title, making consumer gun shy. Ubisoft certainly needs to do something to get their old players excited again, as well as potentially find new players not familiar with the game's stigma.
Does the upcoming Assassin's Creed movie get you interested in the games, whether or not you've ever played them? Let us know in the comments.