According to a recent Variety report, independent American movie studio Stampede (founded by former Warner Bros. president Greg Silverman) has recently struck a deal with video game company Konami to adapt the rhythm game Dance Dance Revolution into a feature film. DDR has no backstory, no storyline, no villains, and no built-in conflict, so that seems like an uphill battle, much like Peter Berg’s attempt to adapt the popular board game Battleship into a film.
But DDR certainly isn’t the most baffling thing to be licensed for a film adaptation. And the supposed logline for the film — “a world on the brink of destruction where the only hope is to unite through the universal language of dance” — sounds mildly promising. It also leaves a lot to the imagination. What threat is out to destroy the world, unless a group of heroes listening to music stomp on a bunch of colored arrows until it relents? Is this some next-level version of communicating with aliens through music in the spirit of Close Encounters of the Third Kind? Are there angry AIs that only understand mathematical patterns keyed into footboards at a frantic rate? Or will the filmmakers fall back on the oldest dance-movie clichés, with a greedy developer trying to destroy an inner-city clubhouse for young people who then have to outwit him by channeling their collective love of dance into a community-inspiring show?
Only time will tell, but given this invitation to speculate, The Verge’s staff considers what a Dance Dance Revolution movie might look like.
Tasha Robinson, film / TV Editor: Honestly, the first thing that comes to mind is the basic setup of Pacific Rim where mechas can only be operated by two pilots hanging in tandem harnesses and operating in perfect sync. Maybe Stampede is pulling a J.J. Abrams here, and it’s out to create a stealth Pacific Rim sequel the way Abrams keeps making stealth Cloverfield movies. Maybe in this version, the shadowy forces on the other side of Pacific Rim’s other-dimensional Breach have started sending through kaiju with wicked city-destroying dance moves. (Just think how many skyscrapers a 50-foot monster could take out with one high-powered dab.) Clearly, the Jaeger pilots will have to learn to fight back via complicated dance-offs, with moves fed to them through datapads under their feet.
Alternately, maybe Dance Dance Revolution: The Movie will just steal the setting and all the plot points from The FP and the upcoming FP2: Beats of Rage, a post-apocalyptic series about a land ravaged by “The Beat Wars.” In the FP movies, Beat-Beat Revelation is a blood sport designed for only the bravest and most kickass heroes, who can somehow play the game in big stompy cowboy boots. Maybe the DDR movie will look exactly like this, except it’ll star Channing Tatum and cost $275 million.
Adi Robertson, senior reporter: That’s possible, but given how boring and generic an action film based on an abstract game can get (hi again, Battleship!), I could see them going for more of an artistic and character-driven genre production in the vein of Annihilation or Arrival.
The idea of needing a “universal language” of dance clearly suggests that society in the film has been destroyed by miscommunication, possibly in a very literal sense. It’s not a huge stretch, for instance, to imagine an homage to Octavia Butler’s classic short story Speech Sounds, where a virus leaves some people unable to read and write and others unable to speak. So to communicate, people have to carry around objects that represent words or concepts. Maybe in this movie, they’ll carry around DDR pads and communicate through a complex foot-based language instead.
Or maybe the pad will be more of an aesthetic motif than a literal object, which could produce a haunting contrast between the silence of the characters and the lush colored arrows of the environment, plus whatever stark, eerie synth score gets composed for the dance sequences. In any case, I’m really looking forward to this movie now.
Michael Moore, reviews coordinator: In a world on the brink of destruction, as a violent storm continues to grow ever larger until it threatens to encompass the world, the last hundred people come together to battle each other until only one remains. With dance! No, wait. That’s Fortnite.
So instead, in a world on the brink of disaster, mysterious ships suddenly appear all over the world. The United States tasks a cultural sociologist with figuring out how to effectively communicate with them through the universal language of dance! Err, I guess that’s Arrival.
So look, there’s this one episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion where the main characters train by playing a very DDR-like game to synchronize their actions so they can defeat these two giant monsters simultaneously, which is apparently the only way to take them out. Just do that. You can’t go wrong with giant mechs.
Chaim Gartenberg, reporter: You know what’s popular these days? Reboots and sequels of 1980s movies: Blade Runner, Heathers, Magnum PI, MacGyver, Top Gun. You want to make money in the 2010s? You need to go back to the ‘80s. And what movie exemplifies that decade better than the cinematic masterpiece Footloose, where Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon) saves a small town through the power of dance?
But today’s teens can’t identify with the swinging rock sounds of Kenny Loggins and the low-power stakes of a small town. (Just ask the 2011 Footloose remake.) No, this is the superhero generation, where summer blockbusters have to wipe out at least half the universe to get anyone to care. That’s why DDR: The Movie is obviously a stealth sequel to Footloose, modernizing the brand by hitching its star to the most popular dance video game series ever made.
This time, it isn’t some small town at stake; it’s the world. The rest of the plot scales pretty naturally from there: instead of a scowling minister banning rock and roll, there could be some kind of sound-based alien invasion, a la The Quiet Place, that crushes all music and dance with an iron fist. And only by uniting the entire world in one epic dance-off can our heroes succeed. Heck, they can even throw Bacon in there as a wise old mentor who can teach everyone the true spirit of dance, and they’re golden.
Bijan Stephen, culture reporter: Look, this is a self-evidently bad idea, but that doesn’t mean the result can’t be good. (See: the first Pacific Rim.) I mean, there are also movies that started off with great ideas and just slid into unwatchability. (See: 2004’s Van Helsing.) If the writers are smart, they’ll just make a good movie around the dance pads. I’ll give it a shot.
The world is on the brink of destruction because of… let’s say climate change. Oil and gas executives have conspired with world governments to keep the public unaware of just how dire things have become, but as the seas rise and as the Earth warms — as the planet alternately begins to burn and freeze — people have started to notice. It’s the 11th hour, and the crisis was of our own making, although there’s nothing the public really could have done to stop the rapacious lust for lucre that fueled the execs and the so-called public servants.
Okay, here’s the DDR part. Two friends and roommates are DDR heads — they spend all their loose change at arcades and have a set of pads at home — and they see what’s going on literally outside their window. (They live near the beach in California, and over the years, the water has crawled closer and closer to their door.) One night, they’re out drinking and dancing at a club. And while they’re busting sweet-as-hell moves at each other, they have a quasi-religious experience that convinces them that they have the power to save the world because they carry their dance pads with them in their hearts. (Cue, like, I don’t know, magic and shit?) The two pals go renegade, dancing on the skulls of their enemies all the way to the top. Final showdown: the president. Could that be a good movie? Hard to say. Depends on the director.
Devon Maloney, internet culture editor: Hear me out: Dance, Dance: The Revolution. A Fall Out Boy biopic / period piece about the rise of commercial pop-punk in the early 2000s. That way, you can have the DDR console(s) in the movie, while avoiding making it the entire point of the movie. Bet Pete Wentz and Hayley Williams would be good sports about the whole thing and make cameos as cynical arcade employees. Get some YouTubers cast in there as New Found Glory and Taking Back Sunday, and you’ve got a blockbuster waiting to happen. (Note: Hollywood, if I see this brilliant idea is in development shortly hereafter, know that my lawyers will be contacting you about residuals.)