Ryan Reynolds’ Free Guy movie was arguably THE surprise hit movie of 2021. Combining the gaming world with romantic-comedy, action, and a touch of thought-provoking sci-fi, Free Guy was a timely reminder of what going to the movies (in theaters) and simply being taken on a journey by a well-crafted and fun adventure from an original IP. However, while the end product was indeed something novel and new, Free Guy did borrow extensively from plenty of well-established and iconic IPs in order to craft its story and action.
Gamers should not be at all surprised to hear that two of the biggest games around today – Fortnite and Apex Legends – Had a direct influence on how Free Guy created its version of a free-to-play First Person Shooter game world. ComicBook.com had a chance to speak with Free Guy Digital Domain VFX Supervisor Nikos Kalaitzidis, who touched on the big gaming influences on the film:
“Well, we had a lot of good support on the team, and even Swen’s team, we had some good support with Charlie. And we had a lot of consultation, you could say, that helped us out. But I do admit I had to dive in deep to understand what games that I didn’t know before I endeavored into this show, such as Fortnite. I was, “Oh, I see my kids playing it. Oh, what is that?” So, there was a lot of gameplay that I had to jump into, to understand what the style was. And Apex, Fortnite. I’m old school with Grand Theft Auto, which I love so much.
Indeed, much of the “politics” in Free Guy’s gaming world was clearly built of Fortnite and Apex Legends – from the different skins and looting that takes place in the “Free City” game “Guy” exists in, to the signature player dances that Magic Mike star Channing Tatum breaks out at one point. In fact, there’s an argument to be made that if not for the rise of big multiplayer free-to-games in the last half-decade (Call of Duty, Fortnite, Apex…) a movie like Free Guy wouldn’t work nearly as well.
“So, there was quite a bit of reference and research that we had to do. And it was the kind of fun research that we could do too”, Kalaitzidis continued. “And it was really a lot of fun to come up with different swatches of what Ryan Reynolds or Dude looks like and different sort of gameplay styles that there were.”
Funny enough, aping the look and style of modern games presented an unexpected challenge: keeping viewers aware of what were in-game scenes and which were in the real world:
“At first, we actually wanted to go really photo-real, because that’s where all the games are going right now. It’s almost as if you’re playing a real feature film game,” Kalaitzidis explains. “But it appeared that, when we see it on the monitor, it could have been confusing if, was that really a game, or is that actually live-action? So that’s when we had to change the style and dumb it down in a way, to go back to something more of a Fortnite or Grand Theft Auto sort of style, to understand what this should be. So when you see it as a viewer on someone’s monitor, you could clearly, distinctively understand that it is gameplay and not live-action.
Free Guy will stream on Disney+ starting February 23rd.