Borderlands has been a fan-favourite video game series since its debut in 2009 and has since spawned two more sequels (and a “pre-sequel”), with the release of Borderlands 3 last year seeing sales of five million copies in its first five days of release. The series has been renowned for its cartoonish but violent art-style, as well as its blending of first-person shooter and randomised treasure-hunting mechanics.
The current draft is reported to be from Craig Mazin, writer of Chernobyl (2019).
The film adaptation has been in development at Lionsgate since 2015, going through various screenplay treatments. The current draft is reported to be from Craig Mazin, writer of the critically acclaimed mini-series Chernobyl (2019) and the cult horror-comedy film series, Scary Movie (2000-2013). Like Roth’s involvement, the hiring of Mazin might seem like a strange choice at first, but there may be some order to this chaotic marriage.
Both director and writer have had what one could call a “mixed” career, with Roth having directed the PG-13 The House with a Clock in its Walls (2018). However, their variety of R-rated horror and children’s film, drama and spoofs could be the formula for success if they are able to find a balance. Borderlands “borders” between the violent and the comedic, so this adaptation should lie somewhere in the middle of the creative team’s prior projects.
Roth’s involvement, however, suggests that this project will be designed around an R rating, whether or not it is actually suitable for this IP. During the recent Gearbox PAX East panel, Roth briefly took to the stage, stating that he wished to honour the community by casting cosplayers to kill off in brutal and Borderlands-esque fashion. Essentially, Roth seems to be taking the same approach to the project as James Gunn has done with The Suicide Squad (2021), casting cult celebrities as C-list villains to ax-off.
With this in mind, Lionsgate might be able to carve a nice piece of the video game film adaptation cake, which has recently been made all the sweeter with the financial and (to some extent) critical success of Sonic the Hedgehog (2020). Still, though, the video game film is not a done-deal and Sonic has been the exception rather than the rule.
Related: Review: Sonic the Hedgehog (PG)
Before Borderlands hits the screen, Warner Bros. will be releasing a new Mortal Kombat in January 2021 which naturally looks to be R-rated itself. It’ll be interesting to see if Mortal Kombat’s success as an R-rated video game film will have any bearing on Borderlands’ final theatrical cut. In the meantime, we’ll just have to sit back and wait for this new era to wash over us.
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