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Sony Email Hack: Uncharted Film Details, Mark Wahlberg, “More Bourne Than Indy”

April 16, 2015 Written by Sebastian Moss

sony

Back in December 2014, Sony Pictures was hacked over The Interview, with emails and employee data leaked online. Now, Wikileaks has uploaded all those emails for anyone to search. And search we did.

In an email exchange carried out on July 20, 2014, several Sony Pictures executives discussed the Uncharted film, its location, tone and characters. The following has been edited and organized for clarity.

Then-Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman Amy Pascal (yes, that Amy Pascal) began the conversation by asking several questions about the franchise and film, which were answered by Sony Pictures’ Jonathan Kadin. Her questions are in bold, the text is his reply. Some questions were not answered, but have still been included.

Did golden abyss comeout in  the same year as #3 and it was a prequel?
Yes but not for the PS3, it was for the handheld Vita.  I don’t think any of the Vita games were that successful. It’s a more limited experience, especially for action games with scope.  Fans of the Uncharted game series pretty much talk about the three PS3 games and not the vita game.

Is it still  playstations biggest franchise?
I’ve been told it is the biggest franchise that is exclusive to the play station but we can vet it where it stands today.

and how are we trying in the release of #4 in 2015

if they are play station exclusives have they really sold more than assissins creed
Apples to Apples: Uncharted sold more PS3 games than Assasins PS3 games.  If you add in the oranges, Assasins has the advantage of selling more total games with X-box added in.

who plays the games
Mostly males teens to 30-somethings.
are they movie goers

are we giving people  who play the game a reason to go t o the movie
Our script greatly expands on the characters and makes some significant changes that should be welcome (like who Elena and Roman are), as well as Drake’s backstory.  The geographical scope is much bigger when comparing our story to what it mirrors in game 1.  Almost all of the game is set in remote jungle locales with ruins and caverns. Our story goes to urban South American, Panama Canal and London – all locales and set-pieces not in the game.

And Drakes relationships with Elena and Sully are deeper and much more involving.

does it work on its own terms if you dont know the game

I think so.  If something isn’t clear in the script we should fix it.

do we think  people  who play the game will go to the movie
how to we expand beyound them
why does chart say people are fans if they dont own the game
how does the popularity compare  with resdent evil and underworld
research looks promising  by the way
are we thinking of this likea family movie like national  treasure and if sois  that who plays the game.

how do we make it not national  treasure or indiana jones what is its totally unique element
Drake is contemporary and more complex than Indiana’s period and altruistic do-gooder character.  Drake is more Han Solo – (and who doesn’t love Han Solo?) – a guy who is in it for himself, he mixes with a criminal element and often gets in trouble, but ultimately stands up for what’s right and discovers he has a heart.  National treasure was a bit soft with Nicolas Cage and more about the historic puzzle solving.  Drake should feel more like the Bourne or Bond version of the action adventure genre which is something audiences haven’t seen yet – a grittier, contemporary globe trotting adventure steeped in the antiquities world that exists today.

how do the male under 35 demos breakdown for uncharted
what ae we showinggpeople  that they havaentseen  before

Replying to Kadin’s answers, Pascal said that she liked “the idea of the grittier globe trotting Bourne”.

Producer Doug Belgrad also emailed:

Agree…we need to really understand the audience for the movie and what kind of movie they think they want.
A few thoughts to add to the mix:

Not surprisingly amers are biggest fans and most interested in the movie, but seem to not want a movie that feels too similar to or derivative of movies like Mummy or Nat Treasure.  They are males 18-34.

The general audience needs to be won over but might not be as interested in an edgy, more hard core action film.
It does seem that the attributes that people like about Nathan Drake correspond nicely with Wahlberg’s screen persona and he may be the element that makes the movie credible for the core fans and also bridges the appeal to a broader demo.

We have to learn more and there is much to think about before we move forward.  
It might be useful to look at how Prince of Persia performed and how powerful that game brand was when it became a movie.  That was widely considered a failed adaptation with the wrong casting, but it still did reasonably good business worldwide.

It might be the most relevant comparison and indication of what’s possible with Uncharted.

Kadin later discussed parts of the film in depth, on 2 October:

Been thinking a lot about tone and why National Treasure (in my opinion) feels softer and a bit sillier in tone than our Uncharted script and what our movie should be.  
National Treasure is certainly a fun movie with an engaging historical mystery (and Uncharted can deliver on those elements), but the action sequences are softer, mostly wide shots and very little physical mano-a-mano fights, gunfire or up close intensity. They aren’t inspired. They don’t feel real.

For example, the NT opening sequence – it has scope, the wide shots of the arctic circle with two ice trucks speeding across the vast white landscape.  Then nic cage and sean bean find the buried ship, but there is very little action – it’s a dialogue heavy scene with nic finding the first clue, deciphering it, sean bean threatening nic at gun point and then nic setting the gun powder on fire that creates a big explosion.  There’s really no action to it.  Compare this to our opening scene with Drake on the plane teetering on the mountain, taking on armed men as the plane slides soft the cliff.  It should be intense and more engaging for adults, and of course young teens as well.
Here is a clip of the white landscape (it cuts of before the ship part):http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=sqoRCT0faRo

Another example is this clip of the London chase in the NT sequel… It’s not that exciting.   http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=xCpeeW_0xtc
Beats like the dog licking the car’s camera feel silly and the beer kegs coming at them feels a big uninspired and not that exciting.  Compare this to Drake raiding Cruz’ compound or Drake and Elena coming under attack by Romans men on the streets of London.  Those scenes in our script are much more exciting and intense… Again, all in a way that I think is more engaging for a wide audience that’s used to more intense action in marvel movies and transformers.

Also, regarding tone, Justin Bartha is at Nic Cages side the whole time, a geek who is uncomfortable with every step of the adventure.  And it just makes the adventure feel a bit goofy. Watch examples here:http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JxxZvDKgz1oThere’s also the Voight-cage father son bickering that feels a bit silly at times.   
Nathan Drake has a sense of humor and fun banter with Sully, or clever verbal sparring with Elena, but the script never feels goofy or silly.
It’s also worth noting that the Nate and Elena relationship is a lot sexier and more fun than the nic cage – Diane Krueger relationship in NT.  A lot more!!  The romantic tension in NT was pretty lame.
National Treasure is fun no doubt, but Uncharted takes the action adventure movie to a more grounded, contemporary and visceral level, and we need to do that given what audiences have been exposed to since the national treasure movies.  

So, we’ll get the kids for sure, but we’ll have a movie that can be strong enough – and “cool” enough – for adults.

If that wasn’t enough, the entire script (well, an early draft that was rewritten later) was also leaked.

In a separate exchange on June 14 Kadin reveals that Mark Wahlberg is still heavily involved in the project after being attached to it way back in 2010, when the film was set to be about Drake’s family. Seth is Seth Gordon, the director of the upcoming film, as well as King Kong.

Uncharted – Seth and Mark

Just heard from Seth. He was with Wahlberg from 2 to 3:45. He said it was great and their conversation about the script and making the movie was really positive.

Going into it we were told Mark just wanted to hang out with him one on one, get to know him and not talk specifically about notes, etc.

However, Levinson was there and all they did was talk script and movie.
Again, all positive.  Mark asked when we want to shoot and Seth said beginning of next year – Mark said great and acknowledged that means Seth would need to start prepping soon (hence, we need a commitment from Mark soon).

Seth showed them his presentation but not the previz because they seemed blown away by the mock trailer – they said that’s exactly the kind of movie Mark wants to do.  Seth wants to refine the previz and decided to hold off and leave Mark with that trailer in his head.

Mark asked where we are thinking of shooting the movie, Seth said there were casual talks about Australia or Mexico but nothing solidified yet. Mark said he doesn’t want to do a lot of green screen – he wants as much locations as possible.  Wants NATE to feel more like Bourne than Indy and of course Seth agreed.

It wasn’t clear whether  Mark wants to see a new draft before committing.  That’s what we need to figure out.
Seth is ready to work on the script his week and would like to bring [David] Guggenheim [screenwriter] out Monday. 

Pascal’s Director of Creative Affairs Hanna Minghella also emailed on June 16 that the film could make $400 million:

Jeff is really excited about the potential Wahlberg news. We’re running a revised model. His numbers are currently 150 domestic and 250 international. If we start shooting in January we could have the movie for Summer 2016.

The next day Sony Pictures discussed the film’s budget, roughly agreeing on a budget of $100 million, which could be increased to $130-140 million with tax breaks. “I think that in order to deliver signature, original action and properly launch a potential franchise in this genre we will probably need that kind of money,” said Belgrad. Also planned was an offer of $12 million to Wahlberg to take the role.

One email from Belgrad showed he has confidence that gamers will like Wahlberg as Nathan Drake:

Not surprisingly amers are biggest fans and most interested in the movie, but seem to not want a movie that feels too similar to or derivative of movies like Mummy or Nat Treasure.  They are males 18-34.

The general audience needs to be won over but might not be as interested in an edgy, more hard core action film.
It does seem that the attributes that people like about Nathan Drake correspond nicely with Wahlberg’s screen persona and he may be the element that makes the movie credible for the core fans and also bridges the appeal to a broader demo.

We have to learn more and there is much to think about before we move forward.  
It might be useful to look at how Prince of Persia performed and how powerful that game brand was when it became a movie.  That was widely considered a failed adaptation with the wrong casting, but it still did reasonably good business worldwide.

It might be the most relevant comparison and indication of what’s possible with Uncharted.

Wahlberg is later mentioned again on November 16 as still being involved in the project, with an email from Belgrad saying:

Uncharted – we will see Seth’s presentation and Mark’s rewrite by the end of the year. At that point we can determine how we want to proceed.

However, Wahlberg wasn’t always guaranteed the position, with Thor’s Chris Hemsworth offered the role in May. That email also let out one more little detail about the film:

It’s not perfect, but it’s in really good shape and the 3rd act finally works (still need to tweak the Infected/Zombies, but it works pretty darn well).

The Uncharted film is currently set for June 10, 2016, although it should be noted that that date was decided before Wahlberg was signed.