At Long Last: Ratchet & Clank, The Movie!

Posted: April 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

So, 2013 has been awesome. I opened it up with my first Batman story, then announced my first live-action feature starring Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis (One Night on the Hudson), and now I get to see another one of my dreams come to fruition—a full-length animated Ratchet & Clank feature film. To say this year has been exciting so far is like saying King Geoffrey is sort of a jerk.

This project has been one of the toughest secrets I’ve ever had to keep. Ratchet & Clank has been near and dear to my heart ever since I joined Insomniac as a writer in 2007, and though I’ve completed several projects outside the studio, this is the one I’ve always had my fingers crossed for. Long before I came to LA I knew the R&C universe was special—it was funny when most games were serious. It had heart where most games were callous. It was emblematic of a time where games didn’t have to spill blood to be entertaining, so when I was hired on as a writer, I knew I was just handed something special. It was absolutely terrifying.

To be clear, I did not invent all of these characters. Brian Hastings and Ted Price created Ratchet and Clank when the studio shifted away from the ill-fated platformer titled Girl with a Stick. When I took over several years later, I felt like I was entrusted with the keys to my father’s cherry Cadillac. The car is yours, they said, but don’t you dare scratch it.

I suppose it made sense given my love for Douglas Adams and Saturday Morning Cartoons.  I identified with Ratchet and, yes, even Captain Qwark. So it was easy for me to find their voices when the time came to bring them to life in the Future series. I remember sitting at my desk at two in the morning, writing a scene where Emperor Tachyon offers Ratchet a way back to his family, thinking “This universe could absolutely be a movie. So why isn’t it?”

The truth is, many have tried. At least once a year we had animation houses and producers knocking on our door, making all kinds of promises and drawing up every conceivable plan. A good friend and mentor, Director of Brand Management Ryan Schneider, wanted this just as badly as I did—but he didn’t want this to become just another video game adaptation. He turned down several opportunities because he felt Ratchet & Clank deserved to be brought to the big screen the right way—a way that honored our audience while welcoming new ones. With Blockade and Rainmaker, we finally have that opportunity.

Most video game adaptations are written by guns-for-hire; screenwriters between gigs who take the general idea of a game franchise and adapt it to film in the loosest possible sense. For R&C, I can tell you right now that this is every inch a Ratchet & Clank story. I won’t ruin the surprise by going into the plot, but suffice to say, any fan of the series will see Insomniac’s fingerprints all over this movie. We’ve weighed in on everything from character creation to animation to audio design. We’ve provided our own character and environment assets to be used in the film. And of course, I wrote the script.

So what’s changed? Well, this movie gives us the gift of a do-over. We’ve grown a lot as a studio since the Lombax’s first outing, and we’ve learned more about our own universe as a result. We’re proud of every one of our Ratchet games, and this movie represents an evolution of the series. The canon will be slightly different in certain places, but in a way we feel works best for the medium. The story is essentially a reboot; a story-driven adventure that keeps the Ratchet DNA while remaining accessible for audiences unfamiliar with the galaxy’s greatest duo. If that sounds like a lot of marketing speak, here’s the bottom line: It’s different in some places, but it’s the same Ratchet you know and love. Just BIGGER.

There’s more to come soon, but in the meantime, know that this movie was written with you, the fans, in mind. This is the biggest, boldest Ratchet & Clank adventure yet, and we can’t wait to see it all come together into something truly spectacular. And we have you to thank for it—if you hadn’t been such loyal supporters of our work, we never would have been able to start this train moving. I can’t wait to show you what we’re doing. Until then…

— TJ

  1. Dan says:

    Really excited for this TJ! I’m sure you’ll do an amazing job/ It’s a shame you guys dont seem to be using Ratchet’s Tool’s of Destruction/Crack in Time model for the movie though 😦 Always massivley preferred that from Ratchet’s fairly squat and cartoony look from the recent games.

  2. Lisa says:

    So excited to see what you guys come up with! Best wishes on this awesome project!

  3. Tim van der Meij says:

    Congratulations, TJ! I myself have pondered what a R&C film could be like; would it adapt an existing entry, like a game or the comics? Or would it be an entry into the existing game canon? I’m glad either way, and I’m so excited to see this movie in theatres. I don’t know how many times I’ll watch it, but you can bet it’ll be at least twice (even more once I get the Blu-Ray!).

    I’m wondering how the film pertains to the PS3 games you’ve contributed; is it overwriting what happened in the original game, or is it a full alternate continuity?

    I also had an interesting theory in that the movie exists in the game canon; after FFA, Ratchet, Clank and Qwark star in a film adaptation of their original adventure. The Teaser seemed to indicate as much!

  4. Tara says:

    Thanks a bunch for sharing this with us, TJ 🙂 many fellow fans around the world are pleased and so excited about the news. I am quite a ‘hardcore’ fan, so you can only imagine how hyped I am! The teaser is mind-blowing and hilarious!
    Really interesting to hear a bit more from behind the scenes, especially how many animation producers have ‘tried asking’ over the years. Wow! Not too surprised though.

    I always believed that the Ratchet & Clank franchise would be great for the big screen. Especially after seeing those cinematic scenes from the future series… even the R&C comic series had a great story. So I knew you had what it takes to write out a story for a TV series or movie.
    I’m really pleased that you guys at Insomniac get a good hands-on approach with this project. Honestly, I don’t feel worried about how the movie will come out! You guys have my faith & total support – and I expect something amazing 😀

    Wise choice with choosing an ‘origins’ story too, so that the unfamiliar movie-goers will be introduced to the series this way. I plan to take as many young family members with me to see it when the time comes!
    And of course, I am SO looking forward to seeing this movie-adaption for Ratchet & Clank’s first adventure. I am curious as to how certain events will be handled, and seeing familiar places and characters. Gah, too much to hype over! I better stop talking now before I blah on for too long.

    So yeah, congratulations! And good luck with all your projects and the like ;D

  5. Damien Grant says:

    Can’t wait, it’s shaping up to be one of the best game based movies of all time, curious as to how the fights will work out but I have faith.

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