A “Duke Nukem” movie is in the works with Gearbox Software teaming with “Assassin’s Creed” producer Jean-Julien Baronnet to adapt the video game into a feature film, Variety has learned exclusively.
Gearbox had been working on “Duke Nukem” with Paramount Studios and Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes, with John Cena rumored as a possible star earlier this year. Paramount, however, is no longer involved in the project.
Duke Nukem first appeared in the 1991 eponymous video game, developed by Apogee Software, as a muscular cigar-chomping man who always wears Ray-Bans and sports a flat-top haircut as he fights aliens to save planet Earth by using enormous physical strength and his expertise in firearms. He’s appeared in 19 video games as the title character, most recently in “Duke Nukem 3D: World Tour.”
Gearbox’s Sean Haran, the company’s vice president of business development, and Baronnet from Marla Studios have been meeting with writers in recent weeks to start preparing a package for a potential Duke Nukem film. They assert that the brawny Nukem — who uses catchphrases like “piece of cake,” “see you hell” and “so help me Duke” — has solid potential as a live-action movie character.
“He’s a parody of 1980s action heroes and he’s like Deadpool in terms of being able to break the fourth wall,” Haran said. “We see a lot of humor in his confronting the values of today while trying to save the world.”
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Baronnet agrees, adding, “Duke is exactly the kind of very blunt character that we need in the world today.”
Texas-based Gearbox bought the intellectual property rights to Duke Nukem a decade ago. Baronnet, who also is the producer of the “Rabbids Invasion” television series and former CEO of both EuropaCorp and Ubisoft Motion Pictures, produced 2016’s “Assassin’s Creed,” which grossed $240 million worldwide. He’s also working with Outfit7 on a “Talking Tom and Friends” feature film.
Sony saw success by adapting Rovio’s “Angry Birds” game app into an animated movie in 2016 with $350 million in worldwide grosses and a sequel set for 2019.