Uncharted, the long-awaited movie adaptation of the hugely successful video game franchise, appears to be defying its critics.
Released into theaters on February 11, expectations for the movie weren't high, after reviewers had delivered an average rating of just 40% on Rotten Tomatoes.
In the days before release, critics were lining up to brand the film a dud, but, it turns out, audience scores for the movie have been far more generous, with Uncharted now boasting a 90% rating for audiences.
More importantly for producers Sony, though, the film has also done the business at the box office.
Again, expectations were low, with Sony forecasting opening weekend takings of around $30 million in the US. However, Uncharted surpassed those projections, taking in over $51 million domestically. It's now on $139 million worldwide and there's already talk of more big screen adventures for the franchise.
Uncharted is based on Naughty Dog’s immensely popular video game series and follows treasure-hunter Nathan "Nate" Drake as he travels around the world to uncover various historical mysteries.
The movie sees Drake, who is portrayed by Spider-Man star Tom Holland, partner up with Mark Wahlberg's Victor "Sully" Sullivan. Sullivan, an older explorer and a mentor to Drake, takes the young man on an adventure where the pair find themselves up against a wealthy, ruthless treasure hunter and his mercenaries as they chase a lost fortune.
An action-packed blockbuster, Uncharted looked like a sure-fire commercial hit, but initial reactions suggested Sony might instead be looking at a flop. Turns out audiences disagreed.
Sony must be delighted...
Indeed they are, so much so that Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group Chairman and CEO Tom Rothman emailed staff to congratulate them on a job well done.
Deadline reports that Rothman called the movie's success, "...a great victory for every single division of the company", and, crucially, described the film as "...a new hit movie franchise for the company."
A franchise means only one thing. Talk is already turning to an Uncharted sequel.
Is the movie's success really a surprise?
With two established stars in Holland and Wahlberg, and a hugely successful video game franchise as source material, it's not like the makings of a hit weren't there.
But it's worth saying that Sony's low expectations for Uncharted weren't just confined to the box office. Normally, studios are happy for critics to shout about films from the moment they've seen them, but reviews for Uncharted were embargoed until release day itself – not the sign of a studio confident in its product.
Add to that Uncharted's difficult journey to the screen. Sony had been developing the film for over a decade, and, during that time, six different directors – including David O. Russell, Shawn Levy and Travis Knight – came and went before Venom filmmaker Ruben Fleischer stepped up in 2020 to complete the project.
In fact, development took so long that Wahlberg, who was once cast as Drake, got old enough to take on the part of his mentor, Sullivan, instead.
So, in summary, it is somewhat of a surprise that the movie has proved a hit with audiences.
Has there been any talk of a sequel before?
Director Ruben Fleischer had already talked up the possibility of future Uncharted movies, but, perhaps in the wake of critical reactions, was reticent to say too much. He told Collider: I’d be thrilled at the opportunity to make a sequel and you can’t help working on this film for two years… I can’t help but imagine different adventures these guys might find themselves on and I’d be thrilled to figure out a way to bring those to life. But ultimately the audience will decide if that’s something they’re excited to see.”
It seems like Sony are keen to get going, it'll just be a question of pining down the key cast.
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Tom Goodwyn was formerly TechRadar's Senior Entertainment Editor. He's now a freelancer writing about TV shows, documentaries and movies across streaming services, theaters and beyond. Based in East London, he loves nothing more than spending all day in a movie theater, well, he did before he had two small children…