The strong debut of Sony Pictures’ “Uncharted” at the box office last month came a happy sign that moviegoing is back to normal-ish levels as families returned to multiplexes for the Tom Holland-starrer based on the PlayStation video game franchise.
Behind the scenes, “Uncharted” is also a textbook case of a movie that needed seasoned and dedicated producers to see it through a nearly 13-year journey to get made. The leader of that pack was Charles Roven, the head of Atlas Entertainment, who has been in the business of making blockbusters for a long time. Think “The Dark Knight” trilogy, “Suicide Squad,” “Man of Steel,” “Wonder Woman” and more.
Roven discusses “Uncharted’s” course to the big screen — including his collaboration with producer Avi Arad — on the latest episode of Variety podcast “Strictly Business.” He also weighs in on the debate over what defines filmmaking in the streaming age.
“I think it’s actually a wonderful time. I don’t know how long it’s gonna last. But I think it’s a wonderful time, because you’ve got the most opportunity for content creators that’s ever existed,” Roven said. “So that can’t be bad. … Nothing is perfect, but I’d certainly rather have a buoyant market than a market where you’re going, ‘Well, there’s no money to make movies. There’s no money to make TV series. There’s no money to make content.’ So I’ve been there, too. I think this is better. It has had its consequences. But it’s better.”
Atlas Entertainment is well positioned to respond to the surge in demand for high-end content because Roven is skilled in managing large-scale productions. As evidenced by Amazon’s eye-popping spending on its upcoming “Lord of the Rings” series, streamers are increasingly demanding spectacle on the screen to stand out.
“Chuck has been through the movie wars,” said Sanford Panitch, president of Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group. “Uncharted” would not have come together without the determination of Roven, Arad and producer Alex Gartner to keep it on track despite multiple obstacles over more than a decade.
As Roven details to “Strictly Business,” the challenge of adapting “Uncharted” was finding the story and tone that felt cinematic, but was still faithful and respectful to the spirit of the video game, which has had many iterations since it was first published in 2007.
“This movie was a huge undertaking, shot all over the world, huge action set pieces and had a global pandemic to contend with while shooting,” Panitch said. “Having (Roven’s) cool, calm, experienced hand on the rudder was not only great comfort but made the work excellent.”
(Pictured: “Uncharted” producers Alex Gartner and Charles Roven, and star Tom Holland.)