Although the side-scrolling beat em’ up gaming franchise enjoyed nowhere near the same level of popularity it once did in the 90s, it’s looking like a renewed interest in turning classic games into movies – thanks to the success of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 – will take SEGA’s Streets of Rage to the big screen courtesy of the creator of John Wick. As per a report in Deadline earlier this week, the undeniable commercial – and, to an extent, critical – success of Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog films starring Ben Schwartz, Jim Carrey and James Marsden have inspired producers dj2 Entertainment to turn their attention towards a Streets of Rage movie.
Streets of Rage, for those who didn’t grow up in the 90s, hasn’t produced a character nearly as iconic as Sonic, and yet the ballsy combination of co-op street fighting and simple gaming mechanics made for one of the best gaming experiences a teenage boy could have back then.
Derek Kolstad, who created the John Wick movies and wrote the script of Bob Odenkirk film Nobody, reportedly wrote the Streets of Rage script on spec before dj2 Entertainment picked it up alongside Escape Artists, who is best known for producing the Equalizer series with Denzel Washington. Given the minds behind the Sonic film adaptation is working with the minds behind both John Wick and the Equalizer certainly brings some weight to the film, making it not so easy to write off as a cheap gimmick geared to stoke a box office that has been loving nostalgia bait as of late.
That’s not to say that all gaming franchises turned into films will go on to meet success. The tepid response to the Uncharted movie came as a surprise, especially since both Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg led the cast. And while both Mortal Kombat and Pokemon ended up being success stories on the big screen, similar things can’t be said for Netflix’s Warcraft, Street Fighter and Double Dragon. The latter, by the way, shares the most similarities with Streets of Rage in terms of both concept and genre.
Of course, Double Dragon didn’t have both John Wick and Equalizer alums working on it, so things are still looking promising for the Streets of Rage movie, which if going off the game’s main plot will follow a bunch of former police officers as they battle to take down a crime syndicate with very little but makeshift weapons and their fists.
Streets of Rage first launched back in 1991 for the Sega Genesis and has since spawned a few follow-ups across the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. The most recent entry, Streets of Rage 4, was released in April 2020 and has since managed to sell over 2.5 million copies worldwide. So while the brand is nowhere near as well-known as the likes of Sonic, Mortal Kombat and Pokemon, it’s not exactly obscure.