'Ratchet & Clank' Games Get Film

Rainmaker and Blockade to adapt videogame franchise for bigscreen.

Escape From Planet Earth”-producer Rainmaker Entertainment has paired up with Blockade Entertainment to adapt the Insomniac Games franchise “Ratchet & Clank” into a 3D-animated film. Goal is to release the film early 2015.

The Ratchet and Clank characters were first introduced in 2002, with the games quickly becoming a successful series exclusive to Sony’s PlayStation consoles. They’ve sold 26 million copies worldwide. Most recent installment, “Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault,” was released in late 2012.

Games focus on two unlikely heroes as they struggle to stop a vile alien named Chairman Drek from destroying every planet in the Solana Galaxy. Ratchet is the last of his kind, a foolhardy “lombax” who has grown up alone on a backwater planet with no family of his own, while Clank is a pint-sized robot with more brains than brawn.

Jericca Cleland will direct the “Ratchet & Clank” film based on a script by TJ Fixman, who also is a senior writer for Insomniac Games, and aims to maintain the game’s signature dialogue and irreverent humor.

Rainmaker will produce the animation at its Vancouver studio.

Key talent from “Ratchet & Clank” will be featured in the film, including James A. Taylor, David Kaye and Jim Ward, who voice the Ratchet, Clank and Qwark characters.

“We wanted to keep the voices consistent,” said Blockade CEO Brad Foxhoven, who serves as a producer on the film with company VP of development David Wohl.

Rainmaker president Michael Hefferon serves as executive producer, with toon studio’s Kim Dent Wilder and Kylie Ellis on board as supervising producer and producer, respectively.

“ ‘Ratchet & Clank’ is a world-renowned video game franchise that appeals to a broad audience,” Foxhoven said. “By working closely with SCEA and Insomniac, we will remain true to the game’s expansive mythology while also creating a story that will capture the imagination of those who will be new to this incredible world.”

Producers secured the film rights from Sony Computer Entertainment America, and franchise developer Insomniac who see the film as a way to generate interest in the 10-year-old series from a new fanbase that may not be familiar with the property.

“It’s meant for a mass audience and not just those who know the franchise,” Foxhoven said, with the film serving “almost like an origin story of sorts,” revolving around “how (the characters) came together.”

Added Hefferon: “You don’t’ want to alienate the core people that made this franchise so successful, but at the end of the day, the game itself is irrelevant. It’s all about what you’re seeing on that screen. It’s about going to see a fantastic animated movie.”

Still the design of the characters are based on the game characters, with filmmakers working with Insomniac’s vast asset library for reference, while adding new locations and characters.

“We’re now translating the visuals of what worked and making them now work for the bigscreen and stereoscopic,” Hefferon said.

Deal with Rainmaker and Blockade finally sets up a “Ratchet & Crank” film after the rights have been sought after by various producers over the years.

“We’ve always thought ‘Ratchet & Clank’ would be a fantastic all-ages movie and are thrilled our intergalactic heroes will finally get their chance to shine on the big screen,” said Ted Price, founder and CEO of Insomniac Games. “Insomniac is especially honored to play a hands-on role with the film’s production, including the screenplay, consulting on character development and animation, and adding support to the film’s marketing.”

Insomniac is also behind the popular “Spyro the Dragon’ and “Resistance” franchises, and will next release actioner “Fuse,” formerly “Overstrike,” on May 28.

The budget of the “Ratchet & Clank” film is not being disclosed, but Rainmaker produced “Escape From Planet Earth” for around $40 million.

The companies arranged co-financing by Film Financial Services and includes Rainmaker as the lead investor along with China’s CNHK, part of the Wanda family of companies.

“Escape From Planet Earth” released Feb. 15 by the Weinstein Co., was Rainmaker’s first feature and earned $60 million worldwide at the box office.

In addition to “Ratchet & Clank,” Blockade is also producing “Heavenly Sword,” a CG-animated film based on the videogame that will be distributed direct-to-homevideo.

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