#673 The Movies

Posted: 14th April 2011 by Mulholland in Games
Tags: , , ,

46th game played so far

Genre: Management Simulation
Platform: PC
Year of Release: 2005
Developer: Lionhead Studios
Publisher: Activision

Despite being quite a profitable genre of gaming it is surprising to note that that in the course of this blog we will only be covering ten titles.

Very few games have allowed the player to manage a media institution without being either average or shockingly bad. Some people will remember the utter bilge that was the Popstars game released on the Playstation 1 in order to capitalise on the talent show’s success. Going against this is the 2005 title The Movies which took a more creative look on how to tackle the management simulation. It was a case where not only could you be the chairman of your own movie studios (ours was Ponyond Productions) but also create your own movies from a vast array of sets, set pieces, costumes and other such options.

Upon it’s original release Activision set up a website where people would be able to upload their creations, alas for it is now shut.

Our Thoughts

The problem with all these games is that they’re addictive. Very addictive. You think you’re playing for half an hour, and it ends up being three and it’s time to head to bed when you wanted to do some coding to fix some important issues (DAMN YOU UNEXPECTED IE9 RELEASE!) Yes… they can be so addictive you end up ignoring your boyfriend for two nights. Not that I am bitter or anything.

It would have been great if it had some LAN capabilities though and had us as warring movie studios. That would have been very awesome, and some future other strategies and simulations will offer that, but right now unfortunately we were constrained with this. Still, your advice was extremely helpful while I was making sure I increased my star power and made the best movies. I like to think that I was instrumental in helping your movie studio get to number one. Absolutely, for as long as it lasted.

It’s one of those games that require a lot of multi-tasking so I guess two brains helped; something that should be praised really since whilst there is a lot of complex elements introduced… but at a well spaced out pace. If everything was there from the beginning I can imagine a lot of gamers taking the CD out of the drive and throwing it into the road. Instead new levels just as you begin to get comfortable.

Casing point, the introduction of ‘custom scripts’ happens about an hour in meaning that you are well versed in running the studio before worrying about original ideas. The same goes for other concepts such as marketing, entourages, research and post-production.

At the same time, it doesn’t feel that way, you certainly don’t get an expanded tutorial feel from this. You just get a few more abilities as you get other things in order and while there are many things to keep track of and do, they don’t get in the way. It doesn’t get too uncomfortable.

When you replay it, however, you do begin to miss certain things that used to signify a hit movie. For the first decade or so you are unable to make a film worth more than one star… and it’s frustrating to see when you have played to a point when you can make films worth 4+.


It’s forgivable though just for the sheer amount of period detail packed into the game. I mean it’s not so much as to look weird but the films you make do feel of the time (to the point where the first film you make feels like Charlie Chaplin’s first attempt). The surroundings help as well. Your stars dress up in period outfits, while the music on the radio (which is on all the time) fits the time period, as do the announcements from the presenter that come through every once in a while.

The radio announcer is amazing. Some of his comments on the business feel very contemporary. He makes a big deal in the beginning about how movies will fail… but as you go along they relent and end up supporting it. The real detail lies in the comedic attempt at ‘current events’ which somehow all manage to raise a titter from the solo gamer. The ones that I’ve seen fitting the time as well – matching real life events – although presented in the way they’d think it would be by then, not how we see the events in our days.

And, of course, they have an effect on gameplay – people change their movie preferences based on it. During the great depression, people want to see comedies, and when a man lands on the moon, people prefer sci-fi. This is helped along by a convenient timeline at the top which gives you advance warning of these events so you can plan accordingly. It makes sense to actually have scripts written in advance just in case. It does, and if you don’t get to use them, they can be sold on. Useful if you don’t have enough stars to film everything.

One thing I actually have a problem with, the ability to acquire actors and directors. You may get so desperate that you train up scriptwriters. It works but takes a long time. Yeah, they show up rarely and even if your studio has a high reputation (which is supposed to attract them) you don’t get quite enough of them. If you are at the top for long enough you are able to poach stars from other studios… but it’s a lot rarer than you would hope. Then there is the fact that you have to deal with the age and possible addictions of your stars. <insert Charlie Sheen joke here> And with them being by far the most important, this gets frustrating. I do like the fact that you can set stars up to make your own power couple. Also, making them have plastic surgery is oddly fun, same with forcing their new fashion statement to be a chicken costume.


Fun fact: you can make furry romance films. Don’t go there. Please don’t go there. How about a sci-fi film where the aliens are people in chicken suits? That might work, I suppose. But still be strange. Still, it’s fun.

As management simulation games it may not be unique but it’s the best attempt yet made in allowing people to run a movie studio. Now all we need would be a similarly great game about managing musical acts and I’ll be lost on the laptop for months. Oh dear. Only if it means you stopping your similar comments about me. Once it has been made you can consider that a deal.

Final Thoughts

Management simulations are very addictive if they are done well. They build up the difficulty as you go along, making it harder. And they provide you with something fun and immersive, feeling you’re playing something similar to the real deal. The radio goes a long way to making this game more fun, but the simulation is hardcore, despite the graphics and creative input in making movies.  A worthy try, regardless of whether you want the complexity of running a studio, the creativity of creating your own movie, or the fun of the game itself.

  1. […] I’m looking forward to again is from that other genre I like to play, simulations. It’s The Movies, the lovely interactive way to make movies and become the studio exec all of us want to make money […]

  2. […] far we have only covered a really modern one in the form of The Movies which in terms of scope is truly worlds apart from this now 23 year old game.  From what can be […]