Someone's Making A $US90,000 Metroid Movie Without Nintendo's Permission

Didn't we just go through this with Final Fantasy VII? Someone wants to make a Metroid fan film. They're raising $US90,000. They don't have any agreement with Nintendo. Of course they don't.

Metroid: Enemies Within launched on Kickstarter on Friday and seeks to fund a 10-minute film pitting Samus against Sylux, the antagonist from the Metroid Prime series. (That's a storyboard sequence of it above). The makers are Massive State, a studio that, according to their Kickstarter FAQ, self-financed a $US65,000 fan film based on the graphic novel Y: The Last Man, a franchise that may actually become a real movie at some point.

They're very careful to say throughout the pitch that their Metroid project is not-for-profit. "There will be no profit made on this film," they say. That's hardly the point. For example, I have an idea of adapting The Flash for a movie in which Barry Allen is an alcoholic freakshow performer who races cars, on foot, at a dirt track in Idaho. I think it's excellent. (Evan thinks it's shit, but c'mon, what does he know?) I don't get to impose that vision of the character on DC Comics so long as my work breaks even (after paying myself for the legitimate expense of writing the screenplay, of course.)

That's because I do not own the character. I do not get to decide, unilaterally, the works in which he will and will not appear, and how he is portrayed in them. If I want to explore the concept of an alcoholic freakshow performer who is fast enough to race cars on foot at a dirt track in Idaho, I need to do that with a character named not The Flash. It's dispiriting to see people who tout Hollywood experience and credentials show so little respect to the concept of creative control.

Nintendo has been permissive with enthusiast works that involve their copyrights and characters. Its CEO has himself said the company would not "criminalise" things borne of obvious admiration for the games they represent. But I'm sure they draw the line at money changing hands. It's why Exploding Rabbit's outstanding Super Mario Bros. Crossover, a bona fide labour of love (no money was raised to create it) exists. It's also why Exploding Rabbit, the studio behind that flash game, must develop an entirely original idea for a video game if they want to make money off the work they've done so far. They are, but that game, Super Retro Squad, has about $US2,400 in funding toward a $US50,000 goal. Metroid: Enemies Within has double the backing toward a goal about twice as large.

"Despite Metroid's massive popularity and status as being one of Nintendo's most successful franchises ever with over 17.44 million games sold, a feature film version has never materialised," Massive State writes. "We believe Metroid deserves to be made and we want to give it the Hollywood treatment."

Pardon me, who are you to decide what Metroid deserves? Is there some threshold at which a successful video game franchise becomes a public accommodation and fails its constituency by not becoming another shitty video game film? Maybe Nintendo, whose greatest character is also the butt of one of Hollywood's worst jokes, recognises that video game movies, quite frankly, suck, and doesn't want to diminish a valuable property with the same treatment — whether or not it would make money.

Nowhere in the "risks and challenges" section of the Kickstarter does Massive State acknowledge that Nintendo lawyers could bring all of this to a grinding halt — not with a cease-and-desist letter to them, but to Kickstarter, which is how the Final Fantasy thing got axed. They do mention that in the FAQ, but it's mostly as a money-back guarantee: If a C&D shuts down the Kickstarter before the 30-day funding window expires, everyone gets their dough back. Of course, that raises the question of what would happen if Nintendo sicced its lawyers on them after the Kickstarter was completed and the funds distributed.

I don't think it'll get that far. Would a well made Metroid film be great? Hell yes, of course. But that's the thing about our new crowdsourced reality, and the only thing it can guarantee: If you can dream it, you can pay for it. Whether you get it is another matter.

Metroid: Enemies Within (A Metroid Fan Film) [Kickstarter, via DualShockers]

To contact the author of this post, write to [email protected] or find him on Twitter @owengood.


Comments

    Cool. I can think of much better ways to waste $90,000 but each to their own.

    (Edit: Most of those ways involve flying out to foreign countries where booze costs like fifty cents per bucket and hotel rooms are like five bucks a night - hookers included.)

    Last edited 12/08/13 8:35 am

    Yes, very strange that they'd go to that much effort with no rights secured.

    I wouldn't be giving them my cash.

    They'll need more than $90,000 to cover legal fees.

    Good luck to them.

    You guys haven't even seen the kickstarter campaign or facebookpage, or faq and questions sheet, or podcast done on this project. So much hate.

    The reality is, Nintendo has never taken down a fan film that has been funded on a crowdfunding website, there are a ton of examples, and it's simple if the fans want to see it, they pay for it, if not they don't. You can do the research yourself.

    There are several up right now, but no one is mentioning them. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dclifton/living-legend-a-super-mario-bros-fan-film?ref=live

    And as far as misrepresenting the character, well that is why they say Nintendo does not support or is affiliated with this project. It is one fan's interpretation of it, and if other fans would like to see this interpretation of it so let it be. It's one short film, not a web series. They're not monetizing the video when it's suppose to be released, which I've been told only the backers will get to see this. So don't worry only people that want to see this will.

    Give Nintendo and passionate fans a little more credit, and read all the stuff involved with the campaign, not just the (opinion of one person) and listen to the podcast, it is really the thing that swayed me to donate. They have the friggin fight choreographer to captain america 2 as the stunt coordinator on this. For gods sake people, this isn't a couple of dudes in their garage making this. That is why I think Nintendo will let this go through. We will see. My money is on Metroid Enemies Within.

      Not that I doubt it'll be high quality... I'm personally looking forward to it. Love fan films, quite often they get everything right that hollywood consistently screws up. But you work on it don't you... just going by your anger and tone?

      Last edited 12/08/13 3:15 pm

        "Love fan films, quite often they get everything right that hollywood consistently screws up."

        Have to politely disagree (or perhaps agree with a caveat) there with a quote from Jeff Goldblum in the modern-day literary masterpiece: "The Lost World: Jurassic Park".

        John Hammond: Don't worry, I'm not making the same mistakes again.

        Dr. Ian Malcolm: No, you're making all new ones.

      "My money is on Metroid Enemies Within." And that there is the problem, the fact there is money involved. Even if it is a non profit project there is money exchanging hands under the licensed material. There is also the fact that Nintendo has been looking at a Metroid film for a while, cancelling talks after someone tried to bring a little Hollywood to it already.

    Pardon me, who are you to decide what Metroid deserves?
    Any who are you to decide that they aren't allowed to embark on their fan project?

    You make some very good points here Owen.

    Have they ever stopped to think maybe It's a good thing a metroid film has never been made. Lets face it most adaptations that recieve "The Hollywood Treatment" are absolutely horrible.

    a 10-minute film pitting Samus against Sylux, the antagonist from the Metroid Prime series"
    I'm pretty sure Sylux is one of the hunters from Metroid Prime: Hunters, only making an appearance in this game and then appearing as a teaser at the end of Metroid Prime 3.

    Hollywood would ruin Metroid with boring characterization on Samus and ridiculous ideas like dialog. A Metroid movie consisting wholly of show-don't-tell storytelling and Samus kicking the absolute shit out of Space Pirates from behind her visor is all that's needed.
    Which means it'll never happen.

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