“Watch Dogs” revolves around a brilliant hacker bent on revenge and inflicting his own brand of justice after a violent family tragedy. In the game, he hacks into Chicago’s Central Operating System, which controls the city’s infrastructure, including security cameras, traffic lights, and public transportation, as well as databases containing key information on the city’s residents and turns the city into his weapon.
The “Watch Dogs” game bows Nov. 19.
“The themes and open gameplay of ‘Watch Dogs’ lends itself perfectly to the big screen,” said Hannah Minghella, president of production for Columbia Pictures. “The game has intense action and adventure, but the story focuses on information and the control of information, which we think will lead to an exciting thriller. It has tremendous potential as a motion picture and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to work closely with Ubisoft’s internal creative team on the development of the project.”
Variety first reported in June that “Watch Dogs” would be part of a second phase of projects Ubisoft Motion Pictures wanted to set up at studios around Hollywood as adaptations.
The film division of French game publisher Ubisoft also wants to adapt actioner “Far Cry” and family friendly “Rabbids.”
Company recently packaged big screen adaptations of “Assassin’s Creed” and “Splinter Cell” at New Regency. Fox has already planted a flag on Memorial Day 2015 to release the “Assassins” film, which will star Michael Fassbender. “Splinter Cell” will star Tom Hardy. Both actors are also attached as producers. This week, Ubisoft announced that Michael Bay will develop “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon” into a potential film franchise at Warner Bros.
In the case of “Watch Dogs,” Ubisoft will maintain creative control of how the project is developed into a film, under the direction of UMP CEO Jean-Julien Baronnet.
At Columbia, Minghella and Sam Dickerman will oversee development while Alexandra Milchan and Andrew Calof will work on the forthcoming film for New Regency.
Ubisoft and Sony had once been in talks of producing an “Assassin’s Creed” film together before the project wound up at New Regency and Fox.
“Sony Pictures and New Regency are ideal partners for us,” Baronnet said. “Their deep production expertise and willingness to allow us to maintain a strong creative voice in the film means that we’re on track to deliver a movie that can build upon the excitement that ‘Watch Dogs’ already is generating as a game.”