Ubisoft Movie's Jean-Julien Baronnet Breaks Off to Found Marla Studios

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Steve Anderson
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Ubisoft Movie's Jean-Julien Baronnet Breaks Off to Found Marla Studios

The public is tired of superhero movies, so believes Ubisoft Motion Pictures' CEO Jean-Julien Baronnet. Baronnet believes this so deeply that he's separated from the company to launch his own studio, focusing on video game-based movies.

Baronnet had actually been out of the position since April, but apparently the three-month lacuna has given him sufficient insight to decide his next move. The new studio, Marla Studios, hopes to start development on its first film by next year.

As for his plan to produce films, Baronnet believes that the best way to make a game-based movie is to work directly with the game designers, building a game around "key creative angles" that can "cope with the game's DNA". It's also important to factor in the gamers, who spend "hundreds of hours in that world" and are thus better able to spot a lack of authenticity that can be a major drag on a property's success.

While it's not strictly necessary to ape a game directly, it's important to remain true to the story and characters. This again calls for that collaborative process noted previously.

Some believe--and not without cause--that since Baronnet's career has been comparatively limited (pointing out he's produced just two movies that haven't actually been released yet and that bizarre Rabbids TV show for Nickelodeon), he's got about as much to base a belief about the nature of the video game movie market as most of us have to base a belief in Bigfoot. After all, we're coming off a season where Marvel's announced its next several movies going as far forward as the end of 2020 with "Untitled Marvel Movie 3." We just saw Deadpool clear nearly a billion dollars as the highest-grossing R-rated film ever. The notion that the public is tiring of superheroes seems unlikely, especially given the traction such are seeing at the box office. Plus, the numbers are comparatively slim; there are an average of 600 movies created in the United States every year, and a handful of these are superhero-based.

Baronnet's stance on how to make a game-based movie seems valid, and a game-based movie that treats its subject matter well and not as the basis for some kind of sleazy cash grab is certainly inspirational. But to be banking on the public's interest in superhero fare to be running out just doesn't seem all that likely. Given that Marla Studios won't actually release a movie much before the end of 2017, and more likely into 2018, he may have a point though.

Baronnet's studio plans may end up fizzling before they can get all that far, but given the length between studio launch and first print, there could be enough of a lag to make his ambitions come to pass.

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