Assassin’s Creed, opening this Tuesday evening, is 20th Century Fox’s sixth video game adaptation feature. Considering the biggest-grossing of these films is Hitman, which made $99 million worldwide back in November/December 2007, I certainly hope that the budget for Assassin’s Creed is closer to $130m than $200m. You don’t need me to rehash the grim history of video game movies, both in terms of artistic quality and (with a few exceptions) commercial success. And, as you can tell from the review headline, the quality streak sadly remains unbroken.
As for the money question, the hope is that the film can snag a $20 million Fri-Sun/$30m Wed-Sun debut over the holiday. That would be great, especially considering Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard are not actually box office draws. But no matter how it opens, we should remember that Fox’s Alien vs. Predator: Requiem earned $41m total off a $26m Tues-Sun holiday debut (Christmas fell on a Tuesday in 2007). While December releases tend to be leggy, I imagine this one’s business will be… brief.
So let’s hope it can nab a decent first few days or at least pull off a patented Fox overseas miracle.
It is a tired cliché to say that a bad video game movie is akin to watching someone else play a bad video game. But Assassin’s Creed Jewelry takes that trope to the next level. Thanks to a plot device that turns a relatively simple premise into an “spend the whole movie explaining the rules” set-up, this movie is akin to watching someone else watch someone else play a bad video game. That extra layer of detachment creates copious layers of disinterest, rendering what could have been a passable action fantasy into a laughably bad botch.
It is rare to see a movie like Assassin’s Creed trip over itself by focusing on all the wrong elements. If I told you that the movie was about a member of an assassination cult in 1400’s Spain who ran around on roof tops and engaged in all kinds of lethal stunt work to procure an important item, you’d probably say “Hey, that doesn’t sound so bad!” But, the movie, which I assume is faithful to the game on which it is based, creates a secondary layer of storytelling which sucks any interest out of the proceedings by focusing on the sizzle rather than the steak.