A feature film adaptation of the Borderlands video game series is on the way.
When fans first learned of movie studio Lionsgate's ambition to bring the whacky world of Pandora to the big screen, initial reception was a mix of geeky excitement and apprehension.
Excitement, given the trademark lunacy of Gearbox’s popular looter-shooter franchise, set on a distant planet where ‘vault hunters’ run and gun through deformed monsters, laughing through endlessly entertaining quips from its NPCs. Apprehension, because of the difficulty in bringing such a freewheeling, open world video game experience to life.
Things are shaping up nicely for the Borderlands movie, though, with a notable director in Eli Roth (Hostel, Cabin Fever) – who's best known as a horror aficionado and Tarantino-favorite actor (you’ll spot him in both Inglourious Basterds and Death Proof). He also directed the successful The House with a Clock in its Walls.
The casting is surprisingly prestigious, too, with Cate Blanchett (Carol, Blue Jasmine, The Lord of the Rings) set to star alongside Jamie Lee Curtis (Knives Out, Halloween, True Lies), Kevin Hart and the ever-hilarious Jack Black.
Throw in acclaimed Chernobyl writer Craig Mazin, and could the Borderlands movie make something of the irreverent video game franchise that’s actually worth watching?
To answer that, we’ll have to wait for its release – but for now, we’ve brought together all the news, titbits, and predictions worth poring over regarding the anticipated movie project.
We'll update this article with any new information regarding the Borderlands movie, so stay tuned to TechRadar for all the latest details.
The Borderlands movie has officially wrapped filming, and we've had our first look (opens in new tab) at its star-studded cast in costume, as well as Jack Black's Claptrap.
We've also heard that the project will be "nothing like you've ever seen before," thanks to comments made by those involved in the movie's production.
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Borderlands movie release date: when will it land?
There’s been no official release date for the Borderlands movie just yet, but its complete cast has been announced and shooting has already wrapped, as of June 2021.
We know that to be the case thanks to several behind-the-scenes set images posted to the Twitter (opens in new tab) account of 13-year-old Ariana Greenblatt, who is set to play Tiny Tina in the film, as well via an official announcement from Lionsgate – which used Claptrap, the series' overenthusiastic robot assistant, to confirm the news.
Claptrap really wanted to let you all know he made it down the stairs safely. That, and the production of #BorderlandsMovie has officially wrapped! See you at the theaters in 20 💣 💣 pic.twitter.com/69NFljVjDcJune 22, 2021
Still, given ongoing Covid-19 restrictions and inevitably lengthy editing processes, we don’t really expect to see the Borderlands movie release before 2022. Gearbox president Randy Pitchford recently suggested that "post-production is going to be substantial" – so we definitively have a while to wait to see the final product.
Borderlands movie casting: who will be in it?
The main reason the Borderlands movie is currently getting a lot of buzz is because of the A-list actors attached to the project.
For starters, Cate Blanchett is playing fan-favorite character Lilith, the Siren vault hunter from the first Borderlands game. Blanchett previously worked with director Eli Roth on the PG fantasy movie The House With a Clock in Its Walls. As an Oscar-winner who boasts a prestigious filmography spanning Notes on a Scandal and Carol, her involvement suggests this won’t be a bargain-bin movie adaptation.
We got a first look at Blanchett as Lilith (albeit in silhouette form) thanks to an image shared by fellow actor Jamie Lee Curtis, who will also be joining the movie's cast as archeologist Dr Patricia Tannis. Along with the teaser image, Curtis described Blanchett's character as the “legendary heroine, psycho blasting, vault hunting vixen with a bad attitude.”
Welcome to BORDERLANDS & a secret BTS shot I took of Lilith, our legendary heroine, psycho blasting, vault hunting vixen with a bad attitude.#cateblanchett From the brilliant minds of @borderlandsfilm @therealeliroth@gearbox @picturestart @Lionsgate Arad Productions pic.twitter.com/R193HTGBZjJune 1, 2021
Comedian and actor Kevin Hart will be playing Soldier Roland (opens in new tab), too, and the resulting mix of horror, comedy and prestige drama actors attached to the movie – not least Jack Black as the robot mascot Claptrap – is eclectic, which could be exactly what the Borderlands movie needs to stay true to its chaotic source material.
For once, though, Hart himself won't be the main source of comedy in the movie. In a recent interview with Collider (opens in new tab), the actor said the nature of his character means he won't be bringing his trademark humor to proceedings. "This is me stepping into action full speed ahead, no comedy," he said, "I'm responsible for the action."
Casting has also been confirmed for the likes of Moxxi, Sir Hammerlock and Marcus – so we’re anticipating faithful adaptations of the game’s most iconic characters. Check out the full list below:
- Cate Blanchett - Lilith
- Jamie Lee Curtis - Tannis
- Edgar Ramirez - Atlas
- Jack Black - Claptrap
- Kevin Hart - Roland
- Ariana Greenblatt - Tiny Tina
- Florian Munteanu - Krieg
- Janina Gavankar - Commander Knoxx
- Olivier Richters - Krom
- Haley Bennett - Unannounced new character
- Gina Gershon - Moxxi
- Cheyenne Jackson - Jakobs
- Charles Babalola - Hammerlock
- Benjamin Byron Davis - Marcus
- Steven Boyer - Scooter
- Ryann Redmond - Ellie
- Bobby Lee - Larry
Jamie Lee Curtis has since shared more images showing other cast members in costume, including Hart’s Roland, Greenblatt’s Tiny Tina, Florian Munteanu’s Krieg and, of course, Curtis’ own character, Tannis.
BORDERLANDS#Squadgoals. LILITH, ROLAND, TINY TINA, KRIEG, TANNIS & CLAPTRAP.They form a family band, psychos get fried, wounds open and heal and I promise you...YOU'VE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE IT! @borderlandsfilm @DuvalMagic @realeliroth@gearbox@lionsgste@picturestart pic.twitter.com/jErz5fCDD7June 4, 2021
Given the shadowy nature of the snaps, there’s not a whole lot of concrete detail to be drawn from them, but it’s abundantly clear that each character will remain – appearance-wise, at least – faithful to their video game counterparts.
Thanks to the aforementioned image shared by Lionsgate, though, we do know how Jack Black’s Claptrap will appear in the Borderlands movie – and, well, he seems almost identical to his in-game character model.
Borderlands movie writer and director: who's behind the film?
The core creative team behind the Borderlands flick consists of Craig Mazin, the award-winning screenwriter behind HBO’s Chernobyl and the upcoming The Last of Us TV show, and Eli Roth – the horror director behind 2005’s Hostel, who famously appeared in Quentin Tarintino’s Inglourious Basterds as the muscular Donny Donowitz.
Mazin is getting a lot of buzz in Hollywood these days, and his attachment gives the film some real credibility – in case you were worried it would just be laden with Claptrap's trademark quips. Roth seems like a smart choice for the cartoonish violence of the Borderlands series, too.
In fact, in the aforementioned interview, Kevin Hart suggested the film's director is "truly knocking this movie out of the park" – so there's every chance it could actually be something worth watching.
Borderlands movie story: which games will it draw from?
We’re light on specific details at this point, but the casting so far suggests we’re getting some kind of re-telling of the first Borderlands game – which was published by 2K Games on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC back in 2009 – rather than Borderlands 2, Borderlands 3, or the Pre-Sequel game.
You can expect to see the planet Pandora, then, and at least some of the game’s key vault hunters (Roland, Lilith, etc) trying to beat the well-funded Atlas Corporation to a legendary treasure vault filled with alien technology that only opens once every 200 years (think Aladdin, but with guns).
Kevin Hart recently suggested the movie has potential for sequels, too, so its narrative may slalom into Borderlands 2 and 3, after all. "Nobody knows what to expect," he said, "but if this thing comes and it smacks people correctly, you could be looking at Borderlands 2, Borderlands 3. It's that good."
How will the Borderlands movie keep the games' spirit?
At PAX East last year, director Eli Roth did state a plan to cast Borderlands cosplayers as extras, and then kill them off with “awful deaths” (opens in new tab), which may suggest the movie’s vision will cleave closer to the games than expected. He also explained that he'll put a "little spice of Hostel in there", suggesting a light leaning towards horror.
We're curious to see if the Borderlands movie will try and retain the games' art style, which is cel-shaded, and therefore complicated to retain on the big screen. Like so many things about this project, though, how Roth and company will tackle that is unknown for now.
We do know, at least, that Kevin Hart is full of praise for Roth's choice of direction for the movie. "And I can say visually, it's like nothing you've ever seen," he said.
Watch this space for more details on Borderlands.