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How Venom Helped Director Ruben Fleischer Adapt Uncharted - Exclusive

It's no secret that adapting a video game isn't easy. Balancing what fans love from the source material with the needs of a cinematic story has proven difficult for many filmmakers. But luckily for director Ruben Fleischer, he already had one remarkably successful adaptation under his belt when he took on the challenge of helming the big screen translation of the revered Playstation video game series "Uncharted." Fleisher previously directed the popular 2018 comic book outing "Venom," and he drew on that experience to ensure the movie version of "Uncharted" resonates with both video game fans and viewers who are new to the story.

Adapting "Venom" gave Fleischer an understanding of how to avoid getting bogged down in paying homage to the source material. As a result, with "Uncharted," he's created an entertaining romp that has something for every audience member.

Fleischer spoke exclusively to Looper about how his work on "Venom" prepared him to take on another adaptation and why, despite that background, he still felt directing "Uncharted' was a "daunting" undertaking.

'Adapting beloved source material'

While "Uncharted" is based on the video game franchise, it tells an original story about the beginnings of the partnership between adventurer Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) and his mentor Sully (Mark Wahlberg). Yet, Fleischer knew that while he needed to create a movie that forged its own narrative path, he also needed to incorporate nods to the games. He was quick to credit "Venom" with teaching him how to strike the right balance. 

"I was lucky to be able to draw from my experience working on 'Venom' and adapting beloved source material," Fleischer remarked, "and knowing that, at the end of the day, it has to work as a film first, because no matter how authentic the adaptation may be, if it's not entertaining, then it's all for naught. I wanted to make sure it worked as a movie on its own two feet without having to rely on any knowledge of the video game. At the same time, you have to pay tribute to the source material and make sure that it does satisfy those fans."

Did Fleischer feel there was a big difference between adapting a comic book like "Venom" and a video game like "Uncharted?" He shared, "I think it's specific to the project. I don't know if the approach is so distinctive. I think that it just has to be true to what you're setting out to do."

However, there was one difference between the adaptations of "Venom" and "Uncharted" that made the newer movie more challenging for Fleischer. "With 'Venom,' it was perhaps easier because superhero movies are such an established genre that audiences love," Fleischer revealed, "whereas video game adaptations have not had such a storied history, let's say. I think it was a little bit more daunting with 'Uncharted' because there is somewhat of a negative association with video game adaptations for films."

"Uncharted" is currently playing in theaters.