So far, there have been two live action incarnations of the Hitman franchise: Hitman (2007) and Hitman: Agent 47 (2015), both distributed in the United States by 20th Century Fox and produced by Chuck Gordon and Adrian Askharieh (who’s also attached to the Just Cause film).
But now there is to be a third. Deadline have exclusively revealed that a Hitman television series is in development, with 20th Century Fox’s fox21 television studios., Askarieh and Gordon now collaborating with hulu.
The intention is to closely adapt the mythology of the Hitman series, which launched with 2000’s Hitman: Codename 47. hulu are hoping for Hitman to become their flagship series in order to attract the most new subscribers.
hulu’s major weakness as a streaming service is its availability. Originally only streaming in the United States, it expanded into Japan. But those two countries are the only territories covered by hulu. If it intends for Hitman to become its flagship series, it needs that expansion, or those interested viewers simply won’t be able to see it.
It does makes sense that hulu are acquiring an established brand to increase its viewership compared to its rivals. Disney are launching their own streaming service led by the first live action Star Wars series. And while they may be transplanting the series based on their Marvel properties from Netflix, those are still there currently. Netflix also have the international distribution license to Star Trek: Discovery, which was used to do the same for CBS All Access in the United States. And then there’s Amazon with its Middle Earth series in development. hulu need their equivalent of this, and it would appear that they’ve chosen the Hitman games.
Video game adaptations are infamous for lack of quality, none having been well-received critically. The greatest challenge that films based on video games face is the story problem. A video game’s primary function is not to tell a good story, but to entertain the player. Telling a good story is one way of entertaining the player, but there are many games that have proven how irrelevant a narrative is to an enjoyable gaming experience. Hitman is one of these – while the games are popular for their slow-burning tension and stealth missions, the story is not a strong point (nor should it be), at least not enough to fill a 90-minutes-long, uninteractive film. This is the quality inherent to video games that makes them difficult to adapt to a screenplay medium, and the reason that, so far, none of them have succeeded.
The only live-action video game adaptation to be positively received is the Manic Mansion series, and even that was considerably different to its source material.
The question now is… will the Hitman TV series finally be the video game adaptation to break the curse?
Hitman‘s pilot is being written by executive producer Derek Kolstad.
The Hitman games are published by Square Enix.