Video game movies, from Street Fighter to Tomb Raider to most recently Doom, have never gotten much critical praise and most are box office bombs. That may change in a few days with the release to theater April 21 of Silent Hill, the Tri-Star Pictures adapation of the survival horror game series by Konami. The film has a solid cast with Radha Mitchell (Pitch Black) in the lead role searching for her missing daughter with Sean Bean (Lord of the Rings) as her husband. FiringSquad got a chance to ask some questions of the film's screenwriter Roger Avary (who won an Academy Award for co-writing the script to Pulp Fiction) about adapting Silent Hill to the movies, working with the film's director Christophe Gans and even a hint as to his next video game-to-movie project.
First, this is perhaps the most commercial movie you have ever participated in. How did you get the gig and was there any hesitation on taking on adapting a video game to a movie?
No hesitation whatsoever. Christophe Gans is a close and longtime friend of mine, since his days as a critic. When he called and asked for my participation it could have been to adapt the phone book and I would have accepted the challenge. As it was, I've long been a Silent Hill fan -- since the PS1 days. I've been gaming since the 70's, when I built my first computer, a Rockwell KIM-1. My first program was a modification of Wumpus, which I had seen on mainframes at Hughes Aircraft. It was machine coded with a hex keypad, and an LED readout. No storage, when you turned it off your program vanished. Before this time I was privy to be one of the first people to play the original Pong at the Dutch Goose in Menlo Park, which had begun my love affair with videogames. Nolan Bushnell, the inventor of Pong, has long been one of my heroes...right up there alongside Kubrick. It was my love affair with the Atari 800 that nearly diverted me from my future as a film maker. But the fact of the matter is that there's less math in film, and I'm kind of a people person...so I followed cinema. Little did I know that the two worlds would converge for me. I love movies, but I also love videogames. I collect and restore vintage Atari XY monitor games like Lunar Lander and Battlezone -- only vector, only Atari. I also have a massive collection of Atari computers. Gaming is in my blood -- so it's only natural for me to adapt games into films and vice versa.
We have seen nearly every other video game based film get critically panned. What steps did you and the director take to make sure that didn't happen with Silent Hill?
Hookers and blow...just like Uwe Boll.