Patrick Frater over at Variety is confirming the start of pre-production this month in Australia for award-winning commercial director Simon McQuoid‘s long-awaited adaptation of the hit game franchse, Mortal Kombat. According to the report, Steven Marshall, premier of South Australia confirmed the news in a press post alongside David Pisoni, South Australia’s minister for innovation and skills, and production consultan former Village Roadshow executive Greg Basser (The Whistleblower, Passengers).
Greg Russo (The Highwaymen) penned the script which takes its cues from the hit game about a select handful of warriors competing in an epic tournanent for the fate of mankind against a ruthless warlord. Cast, crew and official story details remain pending apart from what’s been circulating the Twitterverse as there have also been tons of rumors and speculative reports on what could arise from this particular reboot – including rumors that this film was dead in the water.
The games, which took off at Midway in 1992, have undergone a major evolution through its fourteen-installment history in many aspects of world-building appeal with Ed Boon overseeing most of the games. That includes “Mortal Kombat 11” – the latest from Warner Bros. Interactive and Netherealm Studios who’ve had the reigns over the game franchise since 2011 – whose story introduces new characters such as Cassie Cage and Jacqui Briggs and Kotal Khan, along with plenty of franchise familiars, including a version of Raiden whose amulet foreshadows grim, cyclic events that could devastate the realms.
Kevin Tancharoren (Fame) was originally tapped to direct a feature film after stirring the pot in 2010 with a star-studded seven-minute proof-of-concept. Instead, he was handed a two-season webseries for Machinima with Aaron and Todd Helbing at the table before walking away from the franchise that year, while stunt coordinator and filmmaker Garrett Warren reportedly shepherded a third season that remains unreleased to this very day.
Several court cases arose as well, including in 2013 when Larry Kasanoff, who produced the original two live-action 1995 and 1997 adaptations of Mortal Kombat for Threshold Entertainment at the time, sued Midway over intellectual property rights just as Time Warner bid $33 million dollars for all Midway assets.
Tuesday’s update is the first bit of trade news for what’s been a long, hotly anticipated development that’s taken decades to transpire since New Line’s first two adaptations on the hit game IP in 1995 and 1998. Aquaman helmer James Wan is still attached as of 2015 and will produce for New Line Cinema alongside Todd Garner (Tag). Kasanoff is exec producing with E. Bennett Walsh (Men in Black: International), Michael Clear (The Nun), and Sean Robins (Tag).
Production will commence in South Australia through state incentives, housing the film’s production at Adelaide Studios’ Sound Stages. Primary hires will consist of Australian crew, post-production and visual effects work totaling “an estimated 580 jobs and 1,500 extras employed, along with $49 million (A$70 million) injected into the South Australian economy”.
“The Australian federal government has a robust series of incentives that encourage film and TV production, and certainly that has been a factor in planning for ‘Mortal Kombat’ to be Australian-made,” national body Screen Australia confirmed.
“South Australia has a long and successful tradition of feature film making and Mortal Kombat will showcase our production skills to the world,” said Premier Steven Marshall.
“Mortal Kombat will be the largest film production in South Australia’s history and highlights the importance of engaging with the world’s major production houses.
“The State Government’s investment in Mortal Kombat will enhance the scope and reach of our production and post production capabilities, bringing the promise of fantastic new jobs for the local film industry,” he said.
“We are thrilled to be highlighting South Australian locations, talent and facilities for Mortal Kombat,” said Katherine Beyda, Executive Vice President, Physical Production, New Line Cinema.
“It brings together all of the components we need to make an ambitious action film a success, and we applaud the South Australian Film Corporation for their role in attracting the production to their region.”
Producer James Wan said, “I’m really happy and excited to be bringing another show back to Australia with Mortal Kombat, especially after having such a great experience filming Aquaman.
“Now we get to experience South Australia with its scenic locations and a wealth of artistic talent to work with. It will be perfectly suited for this fantasy-action project.”
Director Simon McQuoid said, “Having lived in Adelaide early in my career, I am thrilled to be back in South Australia to make my directorial debut with Mortal Kombat.
“We need many different elements for its success and have found them all right here—the uniquely beautiful landscapes, the outstanding world-class stage facilities and VFX houses, and the brilliant artists and technicians from across the film-making community.
“I’m grateful to the Premier and people of South Australia for having us, we’re all very excited to be here.”
Minister for Innovation and Skills David Pisoni said “Mortal Kombathighlights the importance of the Marshall Liberal Government’s commitment to support the creative arts as an industry that will deliver exciting career opportunities for South Australians.
“The film will provide unrivalled skills development opportunities for South Australian screen business and crews, whilst enabling the screen sector to update technologies and techniques to keep pace with global trends.
“The Marshall Government is excited to welcome the live action movie production of one of the world’s most successful games franchises, particularly with South Australia also being a centre for games development,” he said.
CEO of South Australian Film Corporation & Adelaide Studios, Courtney Gibson said, “Brought to life by Australian creative talent working in partnership with US studios, Mortal Kombat will be a boon for South Australia and a massive shot in the arm for our industry and Adelaide Studios, delivering unprecedented screen spend into the state and a huge number of jobs for South Australians.”