Duke Nukemthe 1990s video game that helped popularize the first-person shooter genre is now getting the feature film treatment.
Legendary Entertainment, the company behind it dune and the godzilla Monster film series, has picked up the film rights from Gearbox, with Cobra Kai Creators Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg on board to produce.
Legendary will also produce, as will Jean Julien Baronnet (Assassin’s Creed) by Marla Studios, which specializes in video game adaptations. Heald, Hurtwitz and Schlossberg produce Counterbalance Entertainment through their banner.
Launched in 1991 with a self-titled debut by Apogee Software, later called 3D Realms, nukem is a $1 billion video game franchise that began as a platform game for PC. On the third game Duke Nukem 3D, which came out in 1996, not only became a critical hit, but one that helped usher in the ubiquity of first-person gaming for years to come. After years of dormancy and stalled development, the franchise returned in 2011 after Gearbox took over 3D Realms Duke Nukem forever.
Nukem focuses on its titular character, modeled after certain attributes (including catchphrases) of 1980s action film heroes fighting an alien invasion of Los Angeles. Traveling from strip clubs and movie sets to lunar bases and spaceships, he deals with mutant LAPD officers, women deployed in alien incubators, and the Cycloid Emperor.
A search for an author who deals with the material is underway. And even if there is no director on board, the door is open to one of the Counterbalance team to possibly be behind the camera.
With its over-the-top action film style, it’s no surprise that Hollywood has been trying to turn the game into a feature for quite some time. Various indie producers have tried to develop nukem, although neither got very far. gearbox had one nukem Project in development at Paramount with John Cena, who was linked to Star over four years ago, but that has stalled.
This led to Gearbox becoming more conscious in its Hollywood strategy for adapting its video games, and now it already has one on deck: border areas, directed by Eli Roth and featuring an all-star cast including Cate Blanchett and Kevin Hart. Lionsgate is behind the film, which is expected to be released later in 2022.
The Counterbalance trio made their mark in the franchise comedy spheres: Heald wrote the Whirlpool time machine franchised for MGM, while Hurwitz and Schlossberg first wrote and later took over directing Harold & Kumar comedies. You reintroduced yourself The Karate Kid for a new generation Cobra Kai, a hit for Netflix that also received numerous Emmy nominations. Heald, Hurwitz, and Schlossberg are the series’ creators, executive producers, and showrunners, who wrote and directed many of the episodes.
The counterpoise is repeated by CAA. Heald is additionally represented by Behr Abramson, while Hurwitz and Schlossberg are represented by Hansen Jacobson.