The Dead Island hype machine rumbles on with the news today that Lionsgate, the successful TV and film developer behind hits such as Mad Men and Kick Ass, has optioned the movie rights. The planned “human emotion” based zombie flick is already in early development and scheduled for a 2013 release.
Despite the lukewarm reviews for the game itself, Dead Island continues to live off the huge success of its teaser trailer – a wonderful bit of marketing that pitched the IP as a taut emotional saga, rather than the hack’n’slash romp it turned out to be. While the game has been successful, it’s the marketing that has been the true story – featuring in Adweek‘s list of the year’s best commercials, and picking up the Golden Lion at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity, the advertising industry’s highest honor. From the hype it generated, Dead Island has managed to shift over 2 million units since its launch earlier this month, pushing it to the top of the US and UK charts. And Lionsgate are making no secret that they’ve bought the IP off the back of the trailer rather than the game.
“Like the hundreds of journalists and millions of fans who were so passionate and vocal about the Dead Island trailer, we too were awestruck.” Lionsgate co-COO Joe Drake told grigorig.com. “This is exactly the type of property we’re looking to adapt at Lionsgate – it’s sophisticated, edgy, and a true elevation of a genre that we know and love. It also has built in brand recognition around the world, and franchise potential.”
Truth is, while this may seem a huge gamble to take off the back of a new franchise with only a few minutes of quality CGI giving it value, if Lionsgate make a film as good as the trailer they’ll have a hit on their hands. And even if they paid a shedload for what is, essentially, just the brand recognition rather than an exciting concept, it’s still a banker. Buying into an IP with one of the most successful marketing campaigns under its belt is always a savvy play. And besides, as recent box office figures have shown, if you chuck enough hype at something then it’s a guaranteed hit. Something that Deep Silver, the producers behind the ultimately middling Dead Island game, know all too well.