Only in The Movies

By IAN MAISEL  |  August 11, 2006

Take 11: Denouement
For all of the complexity of the game, including the historical details, the inside jokes, the depth of the production tool, and the maintenance of a robust online community, sales for The Movies have been underwhelming. Lionhead Studios, the developer of the game, recently fired 50 staff members and cancelled its plans to release the game on videogame platforms.

So we may never find out what the game would look like in its 2.0 and 3.0 incarnations with modern-looking character models. The Movies is a unique creative tool, but the developers got greedy and marketed the game towards a younger and lower-tech demographic than its core of audience of 20 and 30something techie pop culture aficionados interested in film production. By trying to appeal to tweens and teens, the Lionhead studio team created a clumsy graphic user interface that radically conflicts with the intense time management and film production aspects of the game.

Like many big-budget Hollywood failures, though, the game has developed a cult following. It could end up being one of those games that sticks around the fringes of creatively-inspired gamers and low-budget animators for many years to come. You can connect with aspiring machinimators at, where they posted “machinima” (machine cinema) community news and have a community forum.

Lo and behold, Lionhead recently released The Movies’ expansion pack: Stunts & Effects. You can now unleash a Godzilla-type monster onto a cityscape, direct a chase scene with a car jumping off a ramp and spinning through mid-air, and cast a bearded martial arts guru to open up a can of whup-ass on a young disciple. The expansion pack expands the in-game movie-making tools, essentially making it more of a version 1.5 upgrade than an expansion pack. Will Stunts be The Movies’ blockbuster sequel, or will adding in car chases cause the franchise to jump the shark?

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