Pop-Culture Predictions #1

Hi, I'm Drew, a big nerd who happens to run a hybrid marketing and production company. I lead content and brand strategy and use data to build insights that inform our clients' business decisions. In this weekly series, I'm going to pick a couple of pop-culture IPs and make a bold prediction based on past experience, real-time data, and a boatload of moxie. Here we go...

Prediction - The Uncharted movie will underperform in ticket sales.

I want to be wrong here. I'm a big fan of the games, and I think the world could use a fun, light-hearted adventure film. But no one is talking about Uncharted online, and it looks like it is destined to underperform. Take Tom Holland's last tentpole film Spider-Man: No Way Home. If you do just a simple Google Trends analysis on searches for Spider-Man vs. Uncharted, the differences are striking. Uncharted is basically flatline compared to Spider-Man. Even at its highest search peak in October (see chart below), Uncharted still didn't match Spider-Man. More surprising is that even after the Uncharted trailer drop, the peak is still lower than October's search. Interest seems to be going down, not skyrocketing up as Spider-Man clearly did when that film launched.

According to the New York Times, the Uncharted movie reportedly cost $120 million to make. So this needs an opening weekend of over $90 million and have enough legs overseas to warrant a sequel. In comparison, before No Way Home's insane $260 million opening haul, Venom had the highest pandemic opening weekend at $90.1 million.

Uncharted Interest vs Spider-Man Interest over the last 5 years

Bottom Line: Uncharted needs an incredible marketing push in these last few weeks to drive an insane amount of buzz towards this film to drive people to theaters. Otherwise, I suspect people are Tom Holland-ed out and are willing to wait till this hits the streaming services in 90 days.

Prediction - God of War Ragnarök will not release in 2022.

God of War Ragnarök was originally announced to be released in 2021 (note, it wasn't) and is now rumored to be releasing in September of 2022. Let me be clear: there is no way this game comes out in 2022. COVID variants will continue to plow through the vaccinated and non-vaccinated developers who will need to take weeks off to recover, slowing the production of these AAA game titles down to a crawl. The good news is this can often lead to a slower pace and better working environment for devs and writers alike. It will likely be pushed from September to late November before finally letting everyone know that this will be a March 2023 release. Overall, more than 40 games were delayed last year. Here's a quick list of some of the bigger games that got delayed in 2021:

Bottom Line: COVID isn't going away, and, for the foreseeable future, it will continue to have a tremendous effect on game studios' ability to deliver on their promised launch windows.

Prediction - Xbox will sell more consoles than PlayStation in 2022.

Sorry, Sony, but this next generation might belong to Microsoft. I personally believe that Sony, and specifically PlayStation, makes better hardware that plays nice with more developers. But Xbox understands gamers better. Their Game Pass is a far superior fishing lure to get gamers to switch to Xbox and stay there, with constant access to new games for no extra cost. Couple that with the smart pricing structure on the elite Series X and the cheaper Series S console, and it looks like Xbox might have a winner on its hands. You can see in the chart below that in the last 12 months more people in the US have searched for Xbox over PlayStation by a large margin, especially during the holiday season. The big X-factor here (pun intended) is the global chip shortages and Microsoft's ability to get their next-gen consoles into people's homes faster. The demand is there for both platforms, but the delays in availability may make people choose to buy whichever next-gen console is available once they've got the saved up cash to buy.

Search interest of Playstation vs Xbox over the last 12 months.

Bottom Line: Halo Infinite, Xbox Game Pass, Smart Pricing, and better advertising are clearly winning the day for Microsoft and Xbox in terms of interest but supply issues may make this a closer race than it appears.

I'll be back every few weeks with some more predictions. The value of a prediction is not accuracy (though it is better to be right than wrong), but the reasoning and conversation that the prediction catalyzes. Let me know if you think I'm right or wrong in the comments below!

The Uncharted Cargo Plane Fight Scene Released

Like it or not the Uncharted movie is happening and it's using an action set piece right out of the Uncharted video game series the film is based on. Sony decided to just go ahead and release the whole cargo plane fight scene since most fans have played that scene several times in the third game and the trailers released so far pretty much spoiled the scene already as well. Take a look for yourself...

For reference here's the cargo plane scene from the game narrated by Nolan North (the actor and voice of Nathan Drake in the games) and Amy Hennig (the creator and game director of Uncharted 1 - 3).

In comparison to the game, you can see the film has changed this scene's beats quite a bit. Right away we see that Drake is in a tight spot and needs to cause a scene. So he does what Drake does and pulls the cargo ripcord. Then Mark Wahlberg (Sully) parachutes off the plane right when Drake pulls the cargo cord. Which seems odd out of context. Didn't Sully see that Drake wasn't wearing a parachute? Why would he bail on his buddy Drake?

After that moment we see some nice flips and a lucky escape from Drake before he's pulled out of the cargo plane with his foot caught in a box net. Here's where the film starts to depart from the game not only in action beats but in world psychics. In the game, you can see Drake really struggling to hold on to the cargo nets. In fact, his feet are blowing upwards from the wind speed. It looks and feels like it would be pretty difficult to climb back in the plane. The movie scene on the other hand feels like it was shot on a green screen with a mild wind machine. The fact that Drake is able to leap upside down from one crate to another is probably impossible in this situation. Unless... due to the wind displacement from the rear of the plane causes the wind to go around the crates. I'm not an aerospace engineer but I doubt this is the case but maybe there's someone who can set the record straight here.

This scene is still a lot of fun and we get to see Chloe be the badass we know her to be and likely will save Drake and Sully's ass more than once in this film. My hope is that this scene was edited down for this clip a bit. Not only does it feel a bit all over the place in pacing, but there are also moments that are in the earlier trailers that are not in this edit. Which doesn't mean much since trailer scenes don't always make the film's final cut but I do hope the scene is longer in the film and there is an edit that shows the bad guys climbing out on the cargo crates vs just appearing out of nowhere in the current edit now.

Uncharted comes out exclusively in movie theaters February 18th. Despite my nitpicks, I'll be there with bells on to see this in the biggest loudest theater I can find.

What do y'all think of this cargo plane clip they released? Did it make you more excited or are you still on the fence?