Martin Sheen as Willard in Francis Ford Coppola’s, Apocalypse Now. Photo: American Zoetrope Francis Ford Coppola, right, directs Marlon Brando as Kurtz.
Robert Duval, centre, as Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore.
“I love the smell of donations in the morning.”
That just might be what the team seeking to crowdfund a computer game version of Apocalypse Now might be saying today as their Kickstarter campaign has clocked up more than $US70,000 in its first 24 hours.
That is still a long way short of the $US900,000 they aim to reach by February 25, and the $2.5 million they ultimately think it will take to make their game console ready by 2020.
The developers of Apocalypse Now – The Game say they have chosen the crowdfunding route because it gives them the freedom to make something other than just another first-person shooter – the sort of game Francis Ford Coppola, the director, co-writer and producer of the 1979 Vietnam War classic had repeatedly been pitched, and turned down, by major game studios over the years.
Coppola’s film, based on Joseph Conrad’s short novel Heart of Darkness, is about US Army captain Willard (Martin Sheen) being sent up the Nung River on a mission to assassinate Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who has gone rogue. It is a violent, hallucinatory, shocking tale that lays bare the madness of war in general, and the pointlessness in particular of America’s involvement in Vietnam. There are no heroes in this tale, and little sign of sanity.
The developers are attempting to recreate that sense in their game, and that is why they have eschewed the traditional game studio route.
“We are not making a shooter – we are making a survival horror experience,” says executive producer Lawrence Liberty. “I want to make a game where you can sit on the boat and drop acid if that’s what you want to do. We’re crowdfunding this game because traditional game publishers would try to turn it into a shooter.”
Crowdfunding it was a way of testing the appetite of fans of the movie for such a project, the team say. And, adds director Montgomery Markland, it means “we will have the same independent creative authority that Francis Ford Coppola had when he made Apocalypse Now some 40 years ago”.
Coppola has given the project his blessing. He will act as a creative consultant, and his studio, Zoetrope, has licensed the work to the developers, precisely because their vision is not the standard one.
“I learned quickly that the major game publishers have modelled themselves after the big Hollywood studios in that they’re driven to make risk-free formulaic tentpole projects that fit easily into a specific genre,” Coppola said.
The team behind the game seemed to understand that the story “is about not getting killed, rather than being a killer”, he added.
Although the developers have set an October 2020 release date for the game in PC form, they are hoping to have it finished in time for the 40th anniversary of the movie’s release.
Ultimately, their grander ambitions include console and a virtual reality version.
Karl Quinn is on facebook at karlquinnjournalist and on twitter @karlkwin
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