Thanks to FilmJunk, we now know that Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time has become the single biggest video game movie adaptation in history in terms of international box office. “What?!” I hear you cry, “surely Street Fighter deserves that heady accolade”. Well, frankly no, it doesn’t.

It’s hardly a huge achievement in all honesty, given the traditional reception of video game adaps, though almost $300m world-wide isn’t a figure to be sniffed at. You still get the feeling that Disney won’t be overly happy with the Jake Gyllenhaal project, seeing as it hasnt yet made anywhere near its production costs domestically, which is pretty much rule number one for any project that aspires to be deemed successful enough to warrant franchising (or even single sequelling come to think of it). So far, Prince of Persia has made $214 million in its non-domestic purse, which more than doubles the amount it has made in the U.S. ($84m).

There isnt exactly a huge precident for money-making video game movies, with the watermark up until now being occupied by Lara Croft: Tomb Raider with a worldwide box office of $274 million back in 2001. The top five worldwide highest grossing video game movies reads as follows:

  1.  Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time – $295 million
  2.  Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – $274 million
  3. Pokemon: The First Movie – $163 million
  4. Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life – $156 million
  5. Resident Evil: Extinction – $147 million

The real winner in that list for me is the Pokemon movie- almost $100m worldwide, back when ticket prices werent quite as high, for a feature-length cartoon on a comparatively miniscule budget. I distinctly remember the opening weekend buzz that came with Pokemon’s release: for a few days, it became the highest opening weekend animated film, which is no mean feat, until Toy Story 2 came along and put an end to the pretender’s reign. And this all from a film deemed only appropriate for young children, without the added material aimed at adults which made Tomb Raider (Angelina Jolie in hotpants anyone?) and Prince of Persia (Mr Gyllenhaal) so universally appealing. Critics may have panned it, but I loved it dearly.

 Specualtion would have the next Resident Evil project- Afterlife- nestling somewhere near the top when it is released in 3D later this year, but if the track record of that particularly franchise is anything to go by, the fourth installment will follow the trend of the others and be worse than the third. But then, you can’t ignore the potential that 3D gives to a film’s box-office presence. Personally, I can only hope the upcoming BioShock movie can get out of its developmental funk and hit the list high as well, as there is enormous potential in that project to make some good money.

$300m is actually a comparatively impressive haul (even despite the underwhelming home-front figures) this year considering the low-key impact of most of the projects already released. Obviously Alice in Wonderland hit the high-mark of $1 billion and Toy Story 3 will no doubt take a lot of cash worldwide (it must be good to be at Disney right now), but aside from those behemoths, there havent been any particularly stand-out figures yet. With Inception and the first part Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows hitting in the coming months, you’d have to suspect that more films will reach the $300m barrier, but Prince of Persia’s purse is definitely impressive in context, and when read against some of the mixed reviews it gathered initially.

Perhaps sadly for the possibility of seeing Gyllenhaal rippling under his costume again, it is usually the American bucks that mean the most to the bank-rollers of such projects, and even with the $300m worldwide figure, the actors’ willingness and the involvement of sequel-fancier Jerry Bruckheimer it might be too much to automatically presume that sequels are on their way. I still wouldnt exactly count the possibility out though.

For a little added Friday lunchtime fun, here’s my take on the seven worst video-game to movie adaptations to have “graced” our scenes in recent memory:

  1. Dead Or Alive
  2. Mortal Kombat Annihilation
  3. Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li
  4. Bloodrayne
  5. House of the Dead
  6. Super Mario Bros
  7. Wing Commander

Oddly, the list also reads like the essential suggestion for brainless bad, but compulsively watchable movies.

Right, I’m off to dust off my copy of Pokemon: The First Movie for some anime magic.