“They already made a Metal Gear Solid film”, you shout, “It’s called Metal Gear Solid 4!”.
Now that’s out-of-the-way, let’s get on to find out what happened to the Metal Gear Solid film, and why it still hasn’t seen the light of day.
At Konami’s 2006 E3 conference, those who attended were given a small catalogue detailing the company’s anticipated games. On the front page was a column to the left, which reads:
“Solid Snake…On the silver screen?” Continuing below: “In a late-breaking surprise announcement, director Hideo Kojima revealed that his most famous creation–Metal Gear Solid–is getting the live-action treatment.”
GameSpot reports that on the final page of the catalogue, Kojima goes into a bit more detail.
“I have received many offers to adapt Metal Gear Solid. It has taken a long time, but we have finally settled on an arrangement,” “False facts aside, a movie project is underway. I have finalized a Class-A contract with a party in Hollywood.”
At the time, no more information was given regarding actors, directors, or if Metal Gear Solid voice actor David Hayter would be involved.
Eurogamer also reported a few days before the conference that Kojima announced his series would become a film.
“We’re going to do it as a movie.” he said, but couldn’t announce when it would happen.
Skip to February 2007, a deal was made for Sony to produce the film. Hardly surprising, considering the relationship between Kojima, Konami and Sony Interactive Entertainment at the time.
Michael De Luca (The Social Network, Ghost Rider, Captain Phillips) would be a producer, with Kojima as an executive producer.
Move forward to May of the same year and IGN revealed that Solid Snake voice actor David Hayter (X-Men, X2, Watchmen) had pitched his version of the film to Konami, but they rejected it, as well as his script. One person described it as “Metal Gear as the Apocalypse Now of the digital age, with Snake at the center of a swirling whirlpool of Genomic/military madness.”
De Luca was interviewed by Collider in March of 2008, where he spilt some more information on the project. He talks about the struggles of adapting a video game to film, most importantly the loss of interactivity. He mentions wanting a script that honours the storyline of all four games, suggesting that it wouldn’t be an adaptation of a single game. Additionally, he says that in terms of budget, it would be on the “bigger side” of things (though blockbuster budgets have drastically changed in the past eight years).
De Luca mentions that they were looking to Kurt Wimmer (Equilibrium, Total Recall, Point Break) to pitch the film. At the time, the film still wasn’t officially greenlit, however, De Luca expressed his enthusiasm toward getting the film into the next stage of development.
After that, all went quiet for a couple of years. Not much was said or heard about the film. Christian Bale reportedly expressed interest in playing the lead but later retracted, and Resident Evil director Paul W.S. Anderson told IGN that he’d love to direct the film, but Sony Pictures still retained the rights for the film.
Then, in January 2010, De Luca was interviewed once again by Collider, where he says the film will likely not move forward. Additionally, he mentions that there were fears from Konami about the film potentially damaging the Metal Gear Solid brand.
“I don’t think it’s going to move forward because I got the sense that there may not be enough of a coordinated will at this point on the side of certain parties to see a movie get made. And I get it because the problem with a lot of these adaptations is it’s such a huge franchise for the video game company. A movie can only hurt. If the movie’s great, you’re probably not going to sell more games.”
“I think there’s some things…the video game companies are very protective of their property and there are certain things a studio requires freedom-wise to market and distribute a movie effectively in a global marketplace and sometimes getting those two things to match up is really hard. And in the case of Metal Gear Solid, the agendas just….not because the parties weren’t amicable, it was just kind of impossible to get the agendas to match up.”
Around the same time, Kotaku corroborated what De Luca was saying, insisting that the problem was likely down to budget. Sony Pictures was willing to spend around $80 million, but Kojima and Konami supposedly wanted more.
And that was that, for a couple of years at least. It would seem that neither Sony, Kojima, nor Konami wanted to continue with the project, and the film would just be forgotten by everyone involved.
Time jump to 2012 and Konami are holding a Metal Gear 25th Anniversary Party event. Kojima brings Spider-Man producer Avi Arad to the stage, announcing that Sony Pictures will be bringing the game to the big screen through Columbia Pictures. Arad remarks that he fought for years to bring comics to theatres and that video games are the comics of today.
Kojima and Arad are friends and have discussed the film at length. Small details were made public, the protagonist would be Solid Snake, not Big Boss. Hugh Jackman was considered for the role of Snake, but instead, Kojima and Arad wanted a fresh face. Finally, Kojima would have an ‘advisory role’ instead of being executive producer, though some would consider that to be the same thing.
In December 2012, around the time of the Video Game Awards, Kojima once again met with Avi Arad to discuss the film. But more interestingly, he had a meeting with J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Star Wars, Super 8). It’s unknown if Abrams was having discussions to direct the film, or if Kojima was simply just having a talk with him, fan to the creator.
Once again, the project started to fade into obscurity, with little mention of any developments. However, in 2014, eight years after the film’s first announcement, the film finally had a director, Jordan Vogt-Roberts (The Kings of Summer, Kong: Skull Island). Just under a year later, Jay Basu (The Pier, Monsters: Dark Continent) was hired to write the film.
It seems then, the film is finally in some sort of genuine development. To recap, the film’s producers are Avi Arad and Michael De Luca, with Hideo Kojima in an advisory role. Jordan Vogt-Roberts is directing the film with Jay Basu writing. Ten years of announcements and rumours and a total of four people confirmed to be on the project. That inspires confidence!
It’s now 2016 and, once again, not much has been said about the film. Vogt-Roberts’ Kong: Skull Island is set for release in March of next year so I wouldn’t expect to hear much about the Metal Gear Solid movie until then. But last month, Kojima visited Vogt-Roberts and talked about ‘the future of film’ with him. So it seems the series creator is happy to go ahead with the director of the film. Ken-ichiro Imaizumi, Kojima Productions producer, also met with the director in July, though it’s only speculation as to if they spoke about the film.
That finishes the timeline, not as confusing as a Metal Gear Solid story, but just as long and convoluted. While Kojima is no longer with Konami, he seems happy enough for the film’s production to carry on. Konami has recently talked about earning their fans back, and they’re definitely continuing to develop Metal Gear Solid games without Kojima. 2017 will be the 30th anniversary of the Metal Gear franchise, so it doesn’t seem out of the question to formally reveal a Metal Gear Solid film in their celebrations.