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Screenshot: 20th Century Studios

Movies based on video games are often a bust critically, commercially, or both. But the weekend box office success of Ryan Reynolds' comedy “Free Guy” is a sign that trend is changing.

Why it matters: Everyone knows what happens when Hollywood notices something is working. Be optimistic. Be worried. Your pick.

Between the lines: “Free Guy” earned $28.4 million in the U.S. to take the top spot for the weekend, with another $22.5 million abroad, Variety reports.

  • The movie stars Reynolds as an NPC, or nonplayer character, who discovers he exists within a violent open-world video game. It’s also a romance and features cameos from top game streamers Ninja and Pokimane.
  • Games and entertainment site Polygon called it “competently entertaining.”
  • And there’s more coming: Reynolds tweeted on Saturday that Disney “officially” wants a sequel.

On its own, the success of “Free Guy” could just be a blip that has more to do with how it was released.

  • It only debuted in theaters, testing Hollywood’s pre-pandemic business model against the new one that also puts premieres on streaming services.

But there’s a trend developing of good news springing from gaming movies.

The big picture: For a long time, the games industry chased Hollywood by trying to make games that were more movie-like. Hollywood, meanwhile, turned out largely bad adaptations of games.

  • Now, both sides seem to be loosening up.
  • On the movie end, a major film festival now recognizes games are their own thing, and a movie like “Free Guy” suggests the concepts of games can be appealing without a gaming brand attached.
  • On the gaming end, industry leaders and creators increasingly sound confident about their field’s own success, even as top creators branch out to work more directly on new movies (and HBO shows) tied to their work.

What’s next: Three big gaming movies for 2022.

  • “Uncharted” — A test of whether Sony Pictures will do right by Sony PlayStation.
  • “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” — co-starring Idris Elba.
  • “Super Mario” — The date could slip, but Nintendo is so invested it put the movie’s producer on its board of directors.

Go deeper

Lawsuit against PlayStation alleges gender discrimination

Photo Illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A former IT security analyst at Sony PlayStation filed a lawsuit against the company in California on Monday, alleging gender discrimination and wrongful termination after speaking up “about discrimination against females” at the gaming giant.

Why it matters: Video game companies are under increased scrutiny for their treatment of women in an industry long dominated by men.

Nathan Bomey, author of Closer
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Tesla delays Cybertruck until 2023

Tesla debuts the Cybertruck in Hawthorne, Calif., on Nov. 21, 2019. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Tesla is at risk of falling behind on one of the most critical products in the American auto industry: pickups.

Why it matters: Pickups are the most profitable segment in the business and account for the first, second and third best-selling vehicles in the country. Without a serious pickup strategy, Tesla could miss out on a huge source of future income.

Defense taking steps to mitigate civilian harm after botched airstrikes

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia on Sept. 1, 2021. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a directive Thursday to improve the U.S. military's approach to civilian harm mitigation and response, calling it a "strategic and a moral imperative."

Why it matters: The Pentagon has faced criticism for years for amassing civilian casualties in its missions, especially in the Middle East. New York Times investigations have found systemic failures in efforts to prevent civilian deaths, as well as a cover-up of a 2019 airstrike that killed dozens of women and children in Syria.

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