This news is just big enough for me to briefly pause my hiatus. Sony Pictures has acquired the rights to make a Roller Coaster Tycoon movie. More from Reuters:

Sony Pictures Animation has pre-emptively picked up rights to the Atari video game “Rollercoaster Tycoon,” and is developing the project as a live-action/CGI hybrid.

The “Tycoon” franchise, created by Chris Sawyer, is a popular series of computer games that simulate a combination of designing roller coasters and amusement park management. Each game challenges players with open-ended amusement park management and development while allowing them to construct and customize their own unique roller coasters.

The games are popular in the PC world, generating more than $300 million in sales and giving Atari bragging rights for having the third-best-selling PC title of all time in the U.S.

Obviously this is exciting news for coaster geeks around the World. The sheer premise of a movie based solely on roller coasters is enough reason to take note. Never mind the countless hours some of us have spent plopping down drink stands, insane steel loopers, and landscaping to keep our park guests happy. I had a pretty intense addiction to the original game in 1999. One of my best creations was an X-Men themed park with a dueling launch coaster. Then, I had a short relapse in 2002 when the sequel was released. By the time the third game was out I was married and had much less gaming time on my hands. But, I still own it.

What Would a Roller Coaster Tycoon Movie Be Like?
Right off the bat the movie will most likely be aimed at families and kids. The press release refers to the project as a “live-action/CGI hybrid”. Also, the movie will be developed by Sony Pictures Animation that has created animated movies like Open Season & Surf’s Up. This leads me to believe that the game may somehow come to life like Jumanji or Zathura. Only this time, the live-action characters may be pulled into the game where everything is animated with CGI. A movie like this is perfect for the new 3D trend. I have no idea what the storyline would be, but that’s my best guess at some of the plot. Luckily, for Sony, a visual spectacle doesn’t have to have a good story to do well at the box office. On the other hand, we shouldn’t expect a great movie when you look at the horrible track record of video game to movie adaptations.

Coaster fans shouldn’t be too excited just yet as there are plenty of movies that make it further into development and never get made. Meanwhile, others are greenlit and pushed into production immediately. I’d lean towards the latter for a movie like this, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Another Video (PC) Game Movie: An Infamously Bad Track Record
Unfortunately, the track record for movies adapted from video games is really, really, bad. Die hard game fans may like some of them, but they don’t have a history of performing well at the box office or being well received by critics. Case in point, I just watched Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li (hey, I’m a huge Street Fighter/martial arts fan), and it has a 4% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Shockingly lower than PC game Doom (18%), but not as low as Alone in the Dark (1%). This history of bad transitions from game to movie goes all the way back to early 90’s with such stinkers as Double Dragon, Street Fighter, and Super Mario Bros. Even big budget movies don’t work. Tomb Raider (19%) and the sequel (24%). Even the early reviews of Prince of Persia which opens next week are luke warm at best right now.

One of my favorite video game franchises of all-time, Resident Evil, has found enough box office success to spawn off a series of movies, but I wouldn’t say that the movies are all that great. They’ve received around a 20 – 30% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. In my opinion, Silent Hill, another survival horror video game was successfully adapted into a movie in 2006. The story wasn’t great, but they definitely got the atmosphere and look just right. (Stay away kids it’s a gruesome R-rated movie) Good adaptations that turned out to good movies are few and far between and many think that it’s never been done. Silent Hill and the first Mortal Kombat movie are the only two that come to mind. Even these movies were panned by critics. See a list of video game adaptations and their box office earnings at Box Office Mojo.

The trick is to do a good job translating a game with good, rich subject matter to the silver screen. There are plenty of big, detailed, story-driven video games these days that could be adapted, but a simulator like Roller Coaster Tycoon doesn’t make sense to me.

What’s Your Take?
What do you think of a possible Roller Coaster Tycoon movie? Leave a comment below.

About The Author

Founder of My favorite coasters are B&M hypers and gigas. I'm also a huge fan of terrain roller coasters.

22 Responses

  1. adavis

    The problem with video game movies, at least in my opinion, is that they never adhere to what made the game fun in the first place. The first Resident Evil games were scary, the movies are not.

    So how could a movie company replicate the experience of obsessive nerds building pretend coasters in their basements/dorm rooms? I loved all three RCT games, but there is no way these games will capture the spirit of building a ride. I imagine the plot will be something along the lines of: "Whoah, I'm stuck in a video game, all the people look like RCT people, Whoah! Whoah, a bad guy is trying to take all the FUN out of the park, we gotta stop him!"

    I could be wrong, and I certainly hope this gets made and is fantastic, but my expectations are pretty low.

    • The Coaster Critic

      I agree completely Aric. I wish they would've just recreated the video game plots for the Resident Evil movies, but instead they just borrowed some concepts and characters.

      The bad guy could be a pesky brother who's sitting at the computer in the real world ruining the park. Once he realizes his sibling is stuck in the game he takes those pinchers and picks him up and drops him in lake. I always panicked when my RCT people were about to drown. Anyway, my idea sounds terrible and cheesy, but I wouldn't put it past Hollywood.

  2. Nick TPT

    I'm struggling to dream up any way in Rollercoaster Tycoon could possibly be twisted into a sensible plot for a movie. It's difficult to see how it could bear any relation to the game itself. It sounds like it has the potential to be a disaster, frankly.

    On the other hand, if it triggers a sequel to the game I'd be very happy…although like you I wouldn't have much time to play it these days.

    • CFC

      I've heard that there won't be an RCT4. Sucks, since I'd love a game with NoLimits rides, but following the RCT format, but I've heard that RCT4 isn't coming out any time soon, if at all.

      • Quil

        i doubt they`d make it the exact type of rides, but hopefuly there would be more themeing involved.

      • Coasterluva97

        but they do have a roller coaster tycoon 3 WATERPARK! a plus in my book, i don't have it, but i've always imagined that building a waterpark instead of just a theme park will be fun. I love RTC3 sandbox mode 🙂 they have videos on YouTube about suicide parks. hilarious 🙂

  3. Austin

    I could see them just using the name and having the movie focus on something completely different. I'll be interested to see a trailer though. I'm also hoping it'll get a sequel to the games in the works…

    P.S., CC, you left out the good ol' Mortal Kombat movies….

    • The Coaster Critic

      Actually, Mortal Kombat's one of my favorite martial arts movies and right there with Silent Hill for best game to movie adaptaions. I had Mortal Kombat in the first draft, but I felt like I was rambling so I cut it out. The second one was pretty bad, but I loved the first movie. Good one Austin.

  4. Prof. BAM

    I first saw this on IMDb. I was wondering if an article would be placed about it. I have a couple Roller Coaster Tycoon games myself, but due to No Limits, they have done crap. I am a little worried about this movie myself. I remember the old Leornard Nemoy movie: The Pagemaster (rotten). If you have seen that horrid movie, you'll know what I'm thinking about.

  5. CFC

    I don't see how on Earth Roller Coaster Tycoon could be made into a movie, especially the first of the three. So many questions to deal with, like what park(s) are going to be used, what will the plot be like, and, of course, HOW ON EARTH CAN THIS TYPE OF GAME BE MADE INTO A MOVIE! Sorry for the dramatics, but a Roller Coaster Tycoon movie sounds strange, to put it bluntly.

  6. Tom

    Wow… I'm wondering how this is going to work. Maybe it will be some movie where someone drowns in a lake in the game and someone has to figure out who did it. I know it sounds wierd and cheesy, but it's my best guess based on what they are doing so far.

  7. Piedude81

    LOL!!!!!! I love the game, (I played it today) but really….. a movie?!?!?!?!?!?!?

  8. PJ

    The movie is going to be about a mass murder involving a roller coaster train flying off the track into a crowd of people… because that is what happens when you play roller coaster tycoon

    • Quil

      good idea, but that would hardly go along with the general assumption that it will be watched by kids and their parents, nobody realy thinks about coaster enthusiasts when it comes to movies.

  9. Quil

    maybe everyone could think about it actualy going along with the name, it could be about a man owning a small theme park,then quickly progresses it into a large, an extremeley popular theme park. he starts to act like a total jerk tords his friends a associates, he starts wasting the parks money, goes bankrupt. a moral-like movie.

    • CFC

      You know, that sounds like the first good idea anyone here's had. Might not be a blockbuster, but it sounds like the best they can do.

  10. Coasterluva97

    come on, guys! stop being negative. while i agree with "how can this be made into a movie?!" concept, think! a movie based on ROLLERCOASTERs. and not just rollercoasters, the best rollercoaster game ever in my opinion. i don't know about you, but this is the first movie i've seen based on rollercoasters! 🙂 i agree with whoever said this could be kind of like Zathura where the game comes alive, but Quils idea makes sense too.

  11. Quil

    Although technichally, this isn't a movie, I just felt like bringing some light to this video I found. I won't leave a link to it, because It's based off of a very violent videogame; Call of Duty. You can find this video at This isn't a whole production, just a short collection of clips based off of the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series, but I felt like posting this because of the discussion above. It looked as if some people on the site would be intrested. As I said, I won't leave a link to it, but just look up, and you should find it.


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