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Why the Mass Effect Movie Never Happened, According to Game Director


Mac Walters, project director for Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, has revealed that there’s a reason why the Mass Effect movie never saw the day of light. Talking to Business Insider, Walters explains the story of Mass Effect is so massive that it’s impossible to make it fit in a single film, which was the main reason why Legendary dropped the adaptation project.

A Mass Effect movie was first announced back in 2010, with Legendary Pictures set to produce and Warner Bros. on board to release it. We’ve got a few updates on the project for a couple of years, but then the idea was silently shelved. According to Walters, Legendary’s Mass Effect adaptation never got off the ground because the creative team never figured out how to fit its story into a two-hour format. “It felt like we were always fighting the IP,” Walters said. “What story are we going to tell in 90 to 120 minutes? Are we going to do it justice?”

Image via BioWare, EA

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As Walters reveals, after a shift in Legendary leadership, the movie adaptation was scrapped in favor of a TV project. However, having to restart from zero killed the adaptation. The main Mass Effect trilogy has a cast of hundreds of characters, so it would fit perfectly in a TV format, something with which Walters agrees. As Walters puts it: “If you’re going to tell a story that’s as fleshed out as Mass Effect, TV is the way to do it. There’s a natural way it fits well with episodic content.”

While discussing the possibility of adapting Mass Effect to the TV, Walters also underlined how building the games’ story is not different from making an episodic narrative. In Walters words:

“When we build out a Mass Effect game, we have a backbone, or an overall story that we want to tell, but each level or mission is like its own TV episode,” Walters said. “It doesn’t get written ahead of time. It gets written at the time that we get to it. So it gets added to the main story, and sometimes the main story gets adjusted because we did something really cool in that ‘episode.’ So long-form storytelling is a great place for game franchises.”

Walters is optimistic we will see a Mass Effect adaptation someday. To Walters, it’s “not a matter of if, but when”. However, considering that it’s been more than a decade since Legendary first tried to tackle the franchise, it’s hard to know if a Mass Effect movie or TV series will indeed come to fruition.

Mass Effect: Legendary Edition is available now on PC via Origin and Steam, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, with forward compatibility on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S.

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