10 Upcoming Movies That Are Based on Classic Video Games of the ’80s & ’90s

Video Game Collage
Everett Collection; Adobe Stock

Double Dragon, Street Fighter, Doom, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, House of the Dead: These are just some classic video games that have been adapted for the big screen, and sadly, the final results have ranged from embarrassingly bad to downright pitiful. Making the jump from pixel to motion picture has proven to mostly be a recipe for disaster. And with most of the aforementioned films scoring mostly lukewarm to abysmal reactions from both fans and critics alike, it’s no wonder that many perceive there to be some sort of curse when it comes to adapting a video game into a movie. But in the past decade, we’ve seen films like Sonic the Hedgehog and Werewolves Within pull in mostly glowing reviews. And with shows like HBO’s Emmy-winning The Last of Us or Prime’s smash hit Fallout recently earning critical praise, perhaps it’s not necessarily game over for video game adaptations. But for epic failures like Super Mario Brothers (1993), there’s always the possibility of a box office record-breaker like The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2022) if things are redone in a way that’s more faithful to the source material. At the end of the day, Hollywood is a business, and — quality be damned — studios are still going to turn to nostalgic video games to see which recognizable properties will lead to their next box office smash. And there are still plenty of classic video game franchises still awaiting their big-screen makeover. The following are the upcoming movies and sequels in the works that are based on beloved video games of the ‘80s, ‘90s and early aughts.

Duke Nukem

Duke Nukem is a beloved sci-fi action game franchise that began life in 1991 as a 2D platformer and eventually evolved into a first-person shooter. The storylines in the long-running series centered around a blond, gun-toting Arnold Schwarzenegger-esque antihero who protected Earth from intergalactic threats. Back in June 2022, it was announced that Cobra Kai creators Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg were on board to produce a live-action movie based on the game franchise. The one-liner spewing Duke Nukem character is a perfect fit for the trio because he’s oozing with ‘80s action-star flare and there’s definitely strong potential to make a big-budget alien invasion action flick. So far, there’s been no word on a production start date, but we can only assume the filmmakers will focus on this as soon as their obligations with Cobra Kai VI (the three-part final season) come to an end.

The Legend of Zelda

Director Wes Ball, best known for The Maze Runner trilogy and this year’s Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, has taken on the daunting task of bringing one of the most adored role-playing game franchises of all time to life. In a recent interview with Total Film, the director opened up about his vision for his upcoming Legend of Zelda film. “I have this awesome idea,” said Ball. “I’ve been thinking about it for a long freakin’ time, of how cool a Zelda movie would be… I want to fulfill people’s greatest desires. I know it’s important, this [Zelda] franchise, to people and I want it to be a serious movie. A real movie that can give people an escape.” As of present, there’s no official release date and no word on which game he will base his story on, but there’s 40 years of material to pluck from. The games mostly followed the adventures of  an elf-like warrior named Link who often battled against Ganon, the primary antagonist of The Legend of Zelda series.

Mega Man

Based on one of Capcom’s most recognizable mascots and best-selling video game series, Mega Man was an advanced cyborg designed to do battle the mad scientist Dr. Wily and his ever-growing army of robots. His signature weapon is his iconic Mega Buster arm cannon. The main game series consists of 11 games total, and Mega Man also went on to appear in comics, animated television shows, numerous video game spin-offs such as the Marvel vs. Capcom games. As for the live-action adaptation, all we know is that directing duo Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman best known for Catfish and Project Power signed on to direct for 20th Century Fox back in 2018. A lot has changed since then, but after a few years of silence, the duo let it slip on their official site that they would continue to make the movie for Netflix, but that post has since been deleted, although IGN claims to have confirmed that project is in the early stages of development as of December 2021. Nothing official has been confirmed by Netflix yet.

Metal Gear Solid

Metal Gear is a game franchise that has been around since 1987. It was created by renowned game developer Hideo Kojima and there’s now an official movie in the works based on 1998’s Metal Gear Solid. The film will be helmed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, best known for Kong: Skull Island. “Metal Gear is something I’ve been trying to Sisyphus push up the hill for seven-plus years,” Vogt-Roberts told Entertainment Weekly back in June 2021. “That game and Kojima-san’s world mean the world to me, and that’s something that I’m very proud of what we’re doing. I think it’s very Kojima, punk rock, twisty.” At one point, actor Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina) was said to be taking on the role of Snake, the lead protagonist of the game series. But that’s no longer the case. As of now, there have been no casting updates, but producer Avi Arad recently spoke with writer Brian Crecente and provided an update on the project on June 29, 2024. “We’re working on the script some more, but I can’t talk about it yet,” Arad told Crecente. “I think everyone’s going to be really excited and surprised.”

Mortal Kombat 2

Mortal Kombat is one of the most popular (and bloodiest) fighting game franchises in existence and it’s already seen a total of three movie adaptations with a fourth on the way. First, there was Paul WS Anderson’s successful and satisfactory Mortal Kombat in 1995, followed by the incredibly lackluster Mortal Kombat: Annihilation in 1997. Flash forward to 2021, and we’d get a more serious take with Mortal Kombat, which actually received mixed reviews from critics but mostly positive responses from audiences. Mortal Kombat 2 is the official sequel to that film and it will see the return of the entire original cast including Lewis Tan as original character Cole Young. Karl Urban joined the cast as fan-favorite Johnny Cage, an iconic legacy character who’s been around since the original 1991 video game who was sorely missed in the 2021 film. Mortal Kombat 2 is set to annihilate theaters on October  24, 2025.


Everyone knows Pac-Man, the power-pellet gobbling mascot from the classic coin-operated 1980 Midway arcade game. Well, he’s getting his own movie too, and not too much is known beyond its announcement which was made by Bandai Namco Entertainment back in late 2022. All we know is that the project will be based on an original idea from Chuck Williams (Sonic the Hedgehog) of Lightbeam Entertainment. No casting or plot announcements have been made, but even the game was very minimal on story. So it’ll be interesting to see what story they come up with based on a game about a hero with an endless appetite placed who in increasingly difficult mazes while being pursued by four colored ghosts — Blinky (red), Pinky (pink), Inky (cyan), and Clyde (orange).

Sonic the Hedgehog 3

As mentioned in our intro, Sonic the Hedgehog and its sequel were mostly highly praised by fans and critics alike. Based on the popular ‘90s video game series, the film starred Ben Schwartz as the voice of the titular blue speedster and Jim Carrey played his arch nemesis — the evil Doctor Robotnik. The third film, simply titled Sonic the Hedgehog 3, speeds into theaters on December 20, 2024. Idris Elba returns as the voice of Knuckles and Colleen O’Shaughnessey reprises her voice role as Tails. This time, Sonic will square off against Shadow the Hedgehog, voiced by Keanu Reeves — who was teased during the post-credits of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Earlier this year, it was also confirmed that Jim Carrey will indeed be returning as Doctor Robotnik.

Street Fighter

Capcom’s Street Fighter franchise has had two film iterations since it punched its way into arcades in 1987. The first was 1994’s Street Fighter starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. While the characters in the film bear the same names of those in the smash hit video game, fans were left flustered by the drastic changes in their backstories, strange casting choices, and some downright atrocious character designs (Blanka being one of the worst). Van Damme even admitted to having a drug problem during the production so it was no surprise the film ended up being a major train wreck. 2009’s horribly miscast Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li was somehow an even more lifeless and bland affair that scored even worse reviews than its predecessor (it holds a measly 3% rating on Rotten Tomatoes) which at least had a cheesy camp quality as a saving grace. Well, it seems Sony seems to think that a third time could be the charm. The studio just announced an official release date for Street Fighter, and it’s set to knockout theaters on March 20, 2026. So far, no additional details are available.

Streets of Rage

Here’s one no one ever expected. Streets of Rage is a 1991 side-scrolling fighting game that was available exclusively on the Sega Genesis. It sparked two sequels and then the franchise mostly disappeared into obscurity, eventually making its way to the Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection, a compilation of remastered Sega classics for consoles like Playstation and Xbox. In 2020, Dotemu brought the bare-knuckle brawler to life again on current-gen consoles with Streets of Rage 4. As of November 2022, Deadline broke the news that Streets of Rage would be getting a live-action film courtesy of Lionsgate and that John Wick franchise creator and scribe Derek Kolstad is writing. The Streets of Rage games were about three ex-police officers who became vigilanties to take down a crime syndicate leader named Mr. X. So an action film in the hands of the John Wick folks is surely a great thing.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie 2

Everyone remembers the disastrous critical and financial failure that was 1993’s Super Mario Brothers. This live-action misfire starred Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo as the two titular plumbers. But aside from their vague resemblance to the video game’s two lead characters, all the iconic imagery from the games was either completely excised or virtually unrecognizable, including Dennis Hopper as King Koopa. Thirty years later, Universal Pictures set things right, avoiding live action altogether, and delivered The Super Mario Bros. Movie, a colorful CGI animated film set in the Mushroom Kingdom. Although it received mixed reviews from critics, fans and audiences clearly loved it and went to see it in droves. The film grossed $1.36 billion worldwide and broke multiple box-office records, including the biggest worldwide opening weekend for an animated film. So, of course, a sequel was green lit and Mario and Luigi are set to return to theaters on April 3, 2026. No casting or plot details have been confirmed, but directors Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic will return.

’80s Where Are They Now
Want More?

’80s Where Are They Now

March 2023

Who can forget all the great TV shows, movies and music of the ‘80s? See what your favs are up to now!

Buy This Issue