Will a New Final Fantasy Film Flop at Theaters?

Will a New Final Fantasy Film Flop at Theaters?

When you think about Final Fantasy and movies, you probably recall some of the company’s gorgeous, memorable cutscenes. You might even remember Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children , a direct-to-DVD affair that was lovely to behold, but impenetrable to anybody who hadn’t played Final Fantasy VII . If you’re a bit older like me, though, you’ll remember the time when Square had grand designs on the world’s movie theaters, risking a fortune on a 2001 CGI tour-de-force called Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within . When that movie flopped spectacularly, Square’s dreams were crushed, its movie division was shuttered, and we never saw another Final Fantasy production in theaters… until now. Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV is playing a limited engagement in North America. Don’t worry, though – we’re not looking at another theatrical disaster here. There are several reasons why Kingsglaive won’t flop like The Spirits Within .

1. It’s Actually a Final Fantasy Film

A big problem facing The Spirits Within is that although it had some similar themes (particularly environmentalism) to the mega-hit Final Fantasy VII , that was about the only resemblance it had to a Final Fantasy game. Series fans who went in expecting magic, swords, and chocobos left scratching their heads when what they saw was a science fiction piece with a generic story. It was a film that didn’t appeal to Final Fantasy fans and wasn’t interesting enough to hook non-fans.

Fifteen years later, we don’t have to worry about Kingsglaive making the same mistake. It’s a tie-in to an actual Final Fantasy game, for starters, and Square Enix is now an expert at pulling its fans’ nostalgia strings. We’ve got crystals. We’ve got crazy powerful swords. We’ve got airships, over-the-top attack moves, and heroes with memorable hairstyles. Some fans even think there’s a reference to Final Fantasy VI’ s Ultros the sentient octopus in the latest trailer. Kingsglaive should be like candy to big Final Fantasy fans.

2. We’ve Nearly Conquered the Uncanny Valley

Another problem faced by The Spirits Within was the Uncanny Valley, the name for the phenomenon where artificial people look very lifelike, but just enough is off that they creep us out instead of impressing us. The Spirits Within was incredibly ambitious for 2001, but its CGI actors still suffered from the available technology, especially when it came to their facial expressions. They just… weren’t quite right.

Eight Final Fantasy games later, Square Enix has practically perfected CGI facial expressions. I remember first noticing in Final Fantasy XII that I could tell what the characters were thinking just from the expressions on their faces, and modern motion capture technology has advanced so far that the best companies (like Square Enix) have nearly conquered the Uncanny Valley. Although I can still tell that the Kingsglaive characters aren’t real actors, they’re close enough that it feels comfortable, not creepy, to watch them. Except for Ardyn – the bad guy with the hat – but he’s supposed to be creepy, so… good job, Squeenix.

Will a New Final Fantasy Film Flop at Theaters?

3. It Doesn’t Need to Win at the Box Office

While The Spirits Within was meant to conquer the box office and launch an entire movie series starring its protagonist, Aki, Kingsglaive has a different purpose. It’s meant to complement and cross-promote Final Fantasy XV . It gives us a view of events that happened before the game and allows us to get to know some of its secondary characters without bogging down the game itself. Even if it doesn’t make a ton of money in theaters, it’s helping to sell collectors editions and will be available for sale online as well. Both its purpose and the market into which it’s being released are vastly different from poor Spirits Within .

Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV has already premiered in Japan, and did fairly well in theaters thanks to positive word-of-mouth after its opening weekend. Although North American and Japanese tastes can differ, that’s still a good sign for the movie. I think it will be fun theater viewing for fans who live close enough to one of the places where it’s being shown, and for the rest of us, it’ll be a nice extra purchase if we end up groovin’ on Final Fantasy XV ‘s story. Square Enix learned some important lessons back in 2001, and this is not going to be another Spirits Within .

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