Hollywood studio heads have expressed their astonishment and dismay at Ubisoft's handling of its Assassin's Creed movie deal with Sony, with one talent agency branding the project "a waste of ink, paper and time".
Ubisoft and Sony announced the Assassin's Creed movie deal in October. According to NYmag.com's Vulture column, Ubisoft has demanded and received an unheard-of level of control over the project, including the last word on its budget, principal cast, script and release date.
"The level of control Sony gave up means, effectively, that Assassin's Creed will never - and I mean never - get made," the agency added.
"As a director, even Steven Spielberg cannot get this kind of deal," noted another "incredulous insider". As it happens, Spielberg's Dreamworks was the first studio to pass up the Assassin's Creed movie during early bidding.
"They want to be able to pull the plug on the whole movie's development if they decide to," another studio chief revealed. "It's ridiculous."
"It's [Ubisoft's] billion-dollar brand, so I get that they're protective," chimed in another outraged outfit. "But they're not moviemakers, and the only way to make sure it's a bad movie is to undervalue what movie studios do - and this is a deal that totally undervalues what movie studios do."
Another of Vulture's sources explains that Ubisoft's demands stem from a hefty contribution to the budget, with Sony itself stumping up "only a fraction of what a studio typically would spend to option or develop a script".
If this is common knowledge, it doesn't seem to have appeased the Hollywood old guard. "It begs the question," commented one studio bossman, "If they're so afraid of what will happen to their franchises, why make a movie at all?"
What would you do with an Assassin's Creed film? The next game in the series, Assassin's Creed: Revelations, is out on 15th November.