In 2010, Mass Effect fans got a wild surprise: the beloved video game franchise would be adapted for film, with BioWare playing a hands-on role in its development. Following the announcement, the adaptation was joined by a bunch of exciting names. Avi Arad (known for co-founding Marvel Studios) was set to be a producer, Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. were financing the film, and several of BioWare’s own staff would be deeply involved.
Sadly, that’s all we ever heard of the project — and now it appears to officially be dead in the water.
In a new interview with Business Insider, Mac Walters, director of Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, confirmed the Mass Effect film project has been abandoned by the team at Legendary.
“It felt like we were always fighting the IP,” Walters said of the project. “What story are we going to tell in 90 to 120 minutes? Are we going to do it justice?”
It was these concerns that ultimately led to the script being reworked and cancelled.
As anyone who’s played Mass Effect knows, the games can’t be boiled down to a simple 2-hour film. The narrative is about huge, world-spanning adventures, the relationships you form along the way, and the fight for justice in a massive, cosmic universe. A one-and-done film would’ve erased so much of the nuance Mass Effect has.
According to Walters, it went through several changes before it was shelved — including becoming an episodic TV series. But despite Walters and Legendary itself seeing value in a transition towards TV, the project still fell through.
“It never picked up again after that, not for lack of trying,” Walters told Business Insider.
That doesn’t mean all hope is lost for a future adaptation of Mass Effect, though. While it appears Legendary Pictures has cooled on the idea of adapting the story, Walters believes it’s only a matter of time before other interested parties come calling. Video game adaptations are on the rise once again, and Mass Effect is ripe with narrative worth telling.
It could be that the potential success of upcoming adaptations like HBO’s The Last of Us inspires executives to pick up the project once more — but then again, it could be just another good idea left cooling on the shelf of development hell.