Director Eli Roth has signed onto a film adaptation of Gearbox’s Borderlands games, joining Chernobyl writer Craig Mazin and producers Avi and Ari Arad. Roth offered little detail about the project, which has been in the works since 2015. He celebrated the news by tweeting a picture of his face cropped onto one of Borderlands’ shirtless and heavily muscled “psycho” bandits.
In a press release quoted by Deadline, Roth said he looks forward to “bringing [his] own energy, ideas, and vision to the wild, fun, and endlessly creative world of the game.” Lionsgate Motion Picture Group president Nathan Kahane elaborated that “with Eli’s vision and Craig’s screenplay, we believe we have cracked the code on bringing the anarchic world of Borderlands to the big screen in a big way that will be a fresh, compelling and cinematic event for moviegoers and fans of the game.” Gearbox founder Randy Pitchford is also an executive producer on the film, and Roth calls him and others at Gearbox “incredibly supportive of my ideas.”
The quotes seem aimed at promising that Borderlands the film will be recognizably directed by Roth — known for ultra-violent horror like Hostel or The Green Inferno and his role in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds — but also tonally consistent with Borderlands, a gory yet colorful and ridiculous shooter series.
Borderlands is set in an apocalyptic world ruled by ruthless corporations and Mad Max cosplayers. Beyond that, a film adaptation could be about almost anything. I’m a fan of the series, but barely remember the original game’s plot: you’re an adventurer hunting some kind of alien treasure trove called a Vault, people want to kill you, and the rest is mostly a blur. The smaller quests and later games are memorably weird, though, and the creators have a knack for designing vivid characters. While the main trilogy is nonstop shootouts and looting, a point-and-click adventure game proved you can explore other aspects of the world — or maybe Roth just actually wants to maul some vault hunters with a buzz axe.