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Video games top source for TV inspiration, says Jonathan Nolan

Streaming from Thursday, Jonathan Nolan's "Fallout" takes place 200 years after a nuclear war when the descendants of people who hid in bomb shelters are forced to return to the irradiated surface beset by violence, anarchy and mutants

Published: Apr 11, 2024 04:22:12 PM IST
Updated: Apr 11, 2024 10:03:13 PM IST

Video games top source for TV inspiration, says Jonathan NolanMike Hopkins (L), Senior Vice President at Prime Video and Amazon Studios, British actor Ella Purcell (C) and director Jonathan Nolan Image: Indranil Mukherjee / AFP©

Video games are likely to become the top source of story inspiration for Hollywood, producer and director Jonathan Nolan said Monday, days before his adaption of the post-apocalyptic role-playing game "Fallout" is set to stream.

Streaming from Thursday, "Fallout" takes place 200 years after a nuclear war when the descendants of people who hid in bomb shelters are forced to return to the irradiated surface beset by violence, anarchy and mutants.

The series was developed by Nolan and his wife Lisa Joy who together  produced the acclaimed series "Westworld" which won the Critics' Choice award for most exciting new series in 2016.

Nolan, the brother of Christopher Nolan whose biopic "Oppenheimer" was the hit of this year's Oscars, also directs the first three episodes of "Fallout".

The series is airing a little more than one year after "The Last of Us", another series inspired by a post-apocalyptic video game.

Acclaimed by the public and critics, "The Last of Us", by Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann, has proven that a succesful transition from console to live action is possible.

"That was incredibly helpful that that show came out, that it was so brilliant, that it was so well received because it takes a lot of the pressure off," Nolan told journalists at the Canneseries festival where "Fallout" was screened out of competition.

Video game adaptions to the big and small screen are not new, although they have often disappointed, from the "Super Mario Bros" film that came out in 1993 to the "Resident Evil" series on Netflix in 2022.

Gamer my whole life

But that seems to be changing thanks to directors and producers who grew up playing video games.

"I have been a gamer my whole life," said Nolan who remembers being mesmerised by "Fallout 3" when it was released 16 years ago.

"Those were the years in which I noticed that the storytelling of video games had become in many ways more ambitious, more avant garde, more punk rock" than films or television, he said.

Nolan pointed to video games like Half-Life, BioShock, and Portal as great examples of video games "filled with breathtaking moments", some of which directors can hopefully transfer to film and television.

"You're gonna have a lot of conversations in the next few years when they talk about games (on television and film) as genre, games aren't a genre," said Nolan.

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Post-apocalyptic tone

"Video games are a medium for telling stories and in many ways right now and for some time the biggest medium for storytelling if you look at the numbers, the amount of people who are playing and the size of the industry," he added.

The global video game market was valued at $254 billion in 2022 and is expected to exceed $925 billion by 2032, according to market data firm Spherical Insights.

Nolan believes video games are likely to become the top source of inspiration for Hollywood in the years to come.

"You know we’re very timid in Hollywood, we're conservative," he said.

"You wait to see if... something works."

Hollywood has long mined comics, including Nolan who co-wrote with his brother the Batman films "The Dark Knight" and "The Dark Knight Rises".

While "The Last of Us" is closely based on the game, "Fallout", which will be shown on Amazon Prime, creates new characters and a new story.

"The challenge was to try to find a story that struck at the essence of the games and that for me is obviously the post-apocalyptic setting but really more than anything else the tone," said Nolan.

I have "never encountered anything quite like it—equal parts drama, emotion, but also dark comedy, satire, it's political," he added.

Nolan said "Fallout" creator Todd Howard was involved in every stage of the production, but insisted the show is not about fan service.

"I don't think you can make a movie or a show for fans," he said. "I think you can make it as a fan."

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