The Yakuza video game series – Sega’s best-selling game franchise after Sonic the Hedgehog – is headed to the big screen. Sega, 1212 Entertainment, and Wild Sheep Content are developing a Yakuza movie based on the series that spawned seven main title sequels and eight spin-off titles. The first game in the series followed Kazuma Kiryu, a yakuza from the Tojo Clan recently released from prison.
Variety has the scoop on the Yakuza video game movie coming from Sega, 1212 Entertainment, and Wild Sheep Content, stating that Erik Barmack, Roberto Grande, and Joshua Long will produce, and that 1212 and Wild Sheep are searching for writers for the script. The first Yakuza game launched on PlayStation 2 in 2005, and spawned several sequels and spin-offs.
The game franchise “primarily focuses on the yakuza Kazuma Kiryu from the Tojo Clan. While Kiryu often assists the Tojo Clan, the series has also featured him searching for another way of life in the form of raising orphans. The gameplay of Yakuza has the player controlling Kiryu (or another character depending on the title) in an open district where he can encounter an enemy or perform an activity in the city to obtain experience.” It’s also described as an “action-adventure beat ’em up video game franchise,” which is a classification I confess I’ve never seen before because I’m not the biggest gamer (I’ve played Untitled Goose Game, does that count?).
“Yakuza offers us a new playground in which to set compelling stories with complex characters in a unique environment that audiences have rarely seen before,” 1212 said in a statement. “The saga of Kazuma Kiryu has a built-in cinematic appeal – a mix of kinetic action with bursts of comedy, multiple converging storylines, and a gripping journey towards redemption.”
Erik Barmack, an executive with Wild Sheep Content, added: “With our background in telling global stories, we are excited to bring this huge project to global platforms.”
Since the film has no director, writer, or cast in place, it’s safe to say we’re a long way away from seeing how this turns out. Still, Sega found themselves with a hit on their hands with the Sonic the Hedgehog movie, which went on to be highest-grossing video game film adaptation of all time in North America. Hollywood has struggled with video game movies for years, resulting in projects that were trashed by critics and underperformed at the box office. Perhaps with the Sonic success they’re feeling confident in their future films.
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