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June 13, 2018

Where’s the ‘Devil May Cry’ Movie?

An adaptation of the video game has been stuck in development hell for years. Now is the time to make it a reality.

One of the biggest highlight from this week’s E3 press conference was the news that Devil May Cry 5 will be released in 2019. The latest installment of the long-running — and massively popular — gaming franchise looks like a rip-roaring supernatural adventure for the ages, and the release date can’t come soon enough. Until then, you can check out the trailer for a taste of what’s in store.

News of the forthcoming game also got me thinking about the planned live-action movie that’s been stuck in development hell for years. Screen Gems acquired the film rights back in 2011 and enlisted Underworld: Blood Wars and Machete Kills scribe Kyle Ward to write the screenplay. But that initial announcement was the last time we heard anything about the project. That’s a shame, because Devil May Cry could translate well to the big screen.

Loosely inspired by the “Dante’s Inferno” poem and launched by Capcom in 2002, the Devil May Cry saga lets you play as a gun-toting, sword-wielding monster-slayer on a quest for vengeance against the demon who killed your mother. Battles take place in creepy churches, haunted mansions, and Gothic cities populated by the damned. The roster of creatures includes evil knights, flaming insectoids, demon emperors, and other nightmarish deviants. Techno-infused metal music plays in the background as hellspawn are put to waste. The games have sold a combined 16 million units worldwide. Why hasn’t Hollywood taken advantage of this yet?

Screen Gems is the perfect home for a Devil May Cry movie, too. Action-horror hybrids with threadbare stories have been successful for the studio up until now (I don’t mean this as an insult either). The six Resident Evil movies, also based on a Capcom property, have grossed over $1 billion worldwide, and a reboot promising to be more horror-centric is currently in development. Elsewhere, the studio managed to bleed the Underworld saga for five movies. That series is also receiving the reboot treatment, with a TV series that promises to be a departure from the films in the works as we speak.

This studio clearly has a type, and Devil May Cry‘s style adheres to their tried-and-tested formula. Given that the aforementioned series are being re-tooled as something fresh, that leaves room for a new stylish tentpole action franchise to take their place. Devil May Cry would appeal to a demographic the studio has catered to time and time again, and the games already have a large fanbase who’d be willing to part with their money. Plus, we’ve seen zombies, vampires, and werewolves enough times already. Some hellions would be a change of pace.

In an ideal world, Guillermo del Toro would helm a project like this and he’d add some unexpected substance to proceedings. That said, a Devil May Cry movie doesn’t need substance to work. The games only care about stylish action, and sometimes that’s all we need from a movie. Paul W.S. Anderson would thrive in this universe. If an adaptation ever happens and it turns out to be another entertaining misfire like most of the best video game movies are, I’ll be content. All I know is a Devil May Cry flick is tailor-made for the studio that owns the rights (if they still do). It’s about time they did something with them.

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