id's Hollenshead on the Wolfenstein Movie

Though this year's QuakeCon event in Dallas shed little light on Raven Software's upcoming Wolfenstein game, show host id Software did make the unexpected announcement that the studio's oldest FPS property is in development for the big screen. Soon, movie audiences worldwide will become familiar with the Nazi-hunting exploits of B.J. Blazkowicz and his mission to disrupt the paranormal research of the Third Reich.

First mentioned several years ago, no mention had been made of the Wolfenstein movie until id CEO Todd Hollenshead stated that writer/director Roger Avary (Killing Zoe, The Rules of Attraction) and producer Samuel Hadida (Resident Evil, Silent Hill, The Black Dahlia) are moving forward on the project. I spoke with Hollenshead at QuakeCon about the movie, the personnel involved, and how id's approach to filmmaking has changed since Doom.

Crucially, this time around, id secured development talent before going to a studio--with the Doom film, the process was the reverse.

"It's very different on Wolfenstein," explained Hollenshead. "As opposed to licensing the film rights to a studio, and then figuring out who's going to do what, we went directly to the producer, Samuel Hadida."

Hadida has frequently worked with Roger Avary, who collaborated with former writing partner Quentin Tarantino on Pulp Fiction and True Romance, and has written and directed films such as Killing Zoe and The Rules of Attraction. As it turns out, Avary is also a video game fan. His love of the Silent Hill series led to his penning the script for its movie adaptation, helmed by Brotherhood of the Wolf director Christophe Gans--who himself is directing the upcoming film adaptation of Capcom's Onimusha.

"Last year, Roger Avary came to QuakeCon, and he expressed what a fan of Wolfenstein he was and how he wanted to work on this stuff," Hollenshead recalled. "We were still thinking about who was interested in the rights, before we even started working on a contract, and Roger said, 'Yeah, I'll be the writer on this project, and I'd probably direct it as well.'" id was only too happy to accept the arrangement.

Said Hollenshead, "You want a guy who understands the property, is a big fan of it, wants do a movie that is Wolfenstein, and has the talent to make that happen. In my mind, Roger is an unquestionably talented writer. I couldn't be more psyched.

"When we did the Doom deal, we had no writer associated with it. We had no director associated with it. Those were wildcards we had to go out and find," he continued. "I think if there's anything that's the most important aspect of getting a movie made, it's having a great script, because the script is what you send out to the studios who basically form the production of it."

I suggested that Wolfenstein may also fundamentally be the id property best suited for a movie from the beginning. "I think it has the most thoroughly fleshed out story," conceded Hollenshead.

But how about that Doom movie? "I loved the Doom movie," he answered, "and maybe that's just because I worked on it--but I think there are some things we learned that we can do different and do better."

As it has for years, QuakeCon hosted the Sinus Show, a Mystery Science Theatre 3000-like live movie commentary act--and this year's roast subject was the Doom movie.

"We invited them, and they said, 'Hey, do you mind if we do the Doom movie?' and we were like, 'Okay, we're cool with that,'" said the CEO. "I mean, if you can't make fun of yourself and can't laugh at yourself, I think you're living in a bit of a narcissistic existence."