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Borderlands Movie - What We Know So Far

Video game movie adaptations are not the radioactive material they used to be. The financial successes of Detective Pikachu and now Sonic the Hedgehog have taken some of the historical stigma out of making a video game movie and the resultant fear of resigning oneself to critical doom and ending in the red on the budget. As part of this surprising twist of fate, Borderlands has been greenlit for a film adaptation headed by director-actor Eli Roth, of Inglorious Basterds fame.

Those less familiar with video game culture may only vaguely recognize it on sight, but Borderlands is one of the most popular enduring franchises within the relatively insular world of gaming. The hit franchise boasts high-octane violence, alien eldritch abominations, outstanding villains, and sassy robots, all in a Mad-Max-styled wasteland. Borderlands 3, released in September 2019, hit a record for its distributor 2K by being the fastest-selling title it has ever made, with five million units shipped in the first week of release. Here's what to expect of this franchise's bombastic arrival on the silver screen.

What is the release date for the Borderlands movie?

These are very early days for this production, so there isn't even a reasonable ballpark to presume a release date for the film. With that has to come the caveat that many movies — and especially video game adaptations — suffer for long periods of time in development hell (Sonic's character redesign debacle serving as just the latest example of what could go wrong). That aside, it does sound like the script is either finished or very close to it, as The Hollywood Reporter describes writer Craig Mazarin's work in the past tense.

Who has been cast in the Borderlands movie?

With the new director and screenwriter only just announced, there is no official major casting news as of yet. However, Roth attended PAX East 2020 and, in a very colorful panel appearance, proclaimed that he did wish to cast cosplayers in the film as extras and give them their glorious live-the-game moment by having them horrifically murdered by one major character or another. If that sounds crude, remember: this is an M-rated first-person-shooter video game franchise being adapted, and it is Eli Roth, director of Hostel, talking. 

Any die-hard fan would be delighted to (fictionally) die on camera for him. Elite Borderlands cosplayers are considered by many to be at the top of the game, because the extra effort is made to paint themselves and the costumes as if they are cel-shaded in the same way the game's characters are designed. We're not sure how seriously to take literally anything Roth says, but that could clue us into his stylistic vision for the film.

In May of 2020, the first casting announcement came down the pike. Per IGN, Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett has officially and improbably signed on for the Mazin-penned video game project. She's set to portray the thief-siren Lilith. Then, as if in response to fan speculation, which was starting to reach a crescendo, we learned that comedian Kevin Hart had been officially tapped to play Roland (via IGN). While we don't have anymore casting announcements to report, those are certainly two big pieces to build the rest of the film around. 

What is the plot of the Borderlands movie?

No official details are as of yet available for the Eli Roth-directed project, but previous rumors and leaks have suggested that Lilith the Siren may be the protagonist of a theoretical Borderlands movie, a suggestion lent credence by the early casting of Blanchett in the role. Full Circle Cinema reported this supposed centering of a female protagonist as an exclusive story back in June of 2019, but it also lists an earlier screenwriter and was written before Roth and the current scribe, Craig Mazin, were attached to the project. That's not to say it isn't possible, as Lilith is one of the Vault Hunters from the first game who goes on to play a critical part as an NPC in both sequels, but no guarantee currently exists.

The general plot of all three Borderlands games focus on the protagonists (there are over a dozen different playable characters across the three main games) searching for Vaults left by an extinct alien species called Eridians. The Vaults contain both important technologies and ancient cosmic monsters that must be fought to prevent them destroying planets and sometimes even the universe itself. There are multiple possible antagonists to choose from, depending on which game the film wants to borrow the most concepts from. Video game film adaptations usually are very, very loose interpretations of their source material, so we wouldn't necessarily bet on Roth's version directly adapting any single game's story.

We'll continue to have all the juicy details as they roll in on this Borderlands film adaptation.