Bad Robot and Valve look to team for ‘Half-Life’ and ‘Portal’ movies

At this point, I will only be treating it as news when JJ Abrams is not attached in some way to a new film in development.  It will be easier for all involved, I believe.

One of the first things I did when I got home from dropping the kids off at school this morning was hopped on Kotaku to watch them live-blog an event at the D.I.C.E. Summit where JJ Abrams was onstage with Valve’s Gabe Newell, and while it seemed at first like it was an discussion of the ways that games and movies approach narrative differently, it also ended up being an announcement of a partnership that should surprise no one at this point since it is evidently impossible to get a science-fiction project made without Abrams being involved.

Valve has been a very strong company in terms of creating IP that seems like it is ripe for further exploitation.  There are plenty of video game fans, myself included, who would love for Valve to make a “Half-Life 3” sometime this decade, and I’d be as excited for that as I would be for any movie that might get announced.

But now it looks like Valve and Bad Robot are already in the planning stages for films based on both the “Half-Life” series and the enormously popular “Portal” series.  After the onstage event, Abrams spoke to Polygon, and it sounds like the deals are already in place and now it’s a matter of finding the right writer for the project.  “Our goal here is to treat the world that Valve has created… like anyone would a book or some great story that comes from a pitch or original script… just to treat it with the respect they treat their games and their players with.”  That’s probably music to the ears of Newell, who has been notoriously reluctant to sell the properties to Hollywood.  We’re seeing game studios take control of the way their work is translated to film with Ubisoft steering the development of “Assassin’s Creed,” “Ghost Recon,” and “Splinter Cell,” and Eidos is involved in the way CBS Films is working to bring “Deus Ex” to the bigscreen.

That seems to me to be the best shot these properties have of making the jump intact, and I’m excited to see what guys like Scott Derrickson and Duncan Jones do with these films.  We’re starting to see actual gamers, guys who have grown up playing these things, in the position of directing these films and figuring out a way to convey some part of these experiences to the audience in a way that honors the source material and also expands upon it in some way.  It’s a tall order, but if it’s going to work, it feels like this is the moment, and Abrams and Newell are certainly guys who have the skills to make it work.

Abrams has a few other properties occupying his attention, of course, so no idea when these are going to happen, or what role he’ll play in bringing them to life.  Still, exciting news.

“Star Trek Into Darkness” arrives in IMAX theaters on May 15, and opens everywhere on May 17, 2013.