Duke Nukem, the popular 1990s video game has been a potential Hollywood project for years. Now it’s finally happening.
Duke Nukem, the 1990s video game that helped popularize the first-person shooter genre, is finally getting the feature film treatment.
The rights to a Duke Nukem film have been acquired from Gearbox and picked up by Legendary Entertainment, makers of Dune, and the recent string of Godzilla movies. Gearbox have actually been attempting to get a Duke Nukem film off the ground for years, even developing one with Paramount and John Cena four years ago, which sadly never panned out.
But now they may have a successful team in the form of Cobra Kai, as the makers of the hit Karate Kid spin-off show, Josh Heald, Job Hurwitz, and Hayden Schlossberg, have all signed on as producers under their banner of Counterbalance Entertainment.
Legendary will also produce, as will Jean Julien Baronnet of Marla Studios, which specializes in video game adaptations such as Assassins’ Creed.
What is Duke Nukem?
Launched in 1991 by Apogee Software – later called 3D Realms – Duke Nukem is a $1 billion video game franchise that began life as a platform game for computers and became the prototype for first-person shooters.
The game features its titular hero – who was modeled on 1980s action movie heroes – fighting off an alien invasion in Los Angeles. He travels from movie sets to strip clubs, from moon bases to spaceships, dealing with everything that the aliens throw at him.
While the franchise cooled off a little bit in the early 2000s after Gearbox acquired 3D Realms in the early 2010s the franchise came back with the – albeit awful – game Duke Nukem Forever, which lead to the game, and Duke Nukem himself, achieving cultural icon status. So it’s about time for a movie adaptation.
What will happen in the Duke Nukem movie?
Unfortunately, not much is known about the exact plot of the film yet, since there is yet to be a confirmed writer or director for the project. And since the Duke Nukem games were never rich in story or character development, one may wonder if there will be much of a plot at all.
Fans may be concerned about the film given the chequered history of video game adaptations, but there are reasons to be hopeful.
Heald wrote the Hot Tub Time Machine franchise, while Hurwitz and Schlossberg first wrote and then later directed the Harold & Kumar comedies. Their Netflix show Cobra Kai managed to update another late 20th-century property and made it feel fresh and fun. It brought back many of the original actors and is still going strong in its fourth season.
Therefore, these producers may be able to breathe life and excitement into another otherwise simple and dated franchise.
Fans can only wonder how they will update the game’s story and character, and how they will adapt Duke Nukem’s pixelated world onto the big screen.