How Sumner Redstone Nearly Put The Suffering on the Big Screen

Media magnate Sumner Redstone has passed away at age 97, reports the New York Times. During the course of his life, Redstone built an entertainment empire that included ownership of the National Amusements theater chain, ViacomCBS (and its many networks), and CBS Television Distribution. Here’s how his entrepreneurial maneuvering nearly resulted in a cinematic take on survival horror game, The Suffering.

The scoop came from my interview with Richard Rouse III, designer on The Suffering, and eventual game design director at Midway. During our podcast chat for GameDev Breakdown, Rouse explained the connection.

At the time, Sumner Redstone owned Paramount, and he also became a majority shareholder in Midway around the same time. They weren’t the same company as Paramount, but he owned both of them…So he said, “Hey, let’s option some of these Midway properties,” and The Suffering seemed to be the one that was the most ready to go as a movie, of any of them, because it was a pretty high-concept that would work in both.

So it did go into development, and I talked to an executive at MTV who came by, and we talked on the phone a bunch of times about the game. It never really went anywhere.

Years later, I met a writer at a book convention who was selling his novel about something…I said that I’d worked on The Suffering and he said, “Oh hey, I pitched for writing a screenplay for that!”

I was like, “Oh really?” He had said he had wanted to make it into an Indian burial ground or something, and I was like, I’m so glad you didn’t write this…That plot’s been done a few times.

Anyway, it was fun that it happened, though I’m not surprised it didn’t get made…It’s one of those “honor just to be nominated” things. If they made the movie, it probably would have been bad. So this is kind of the best of both worlds: someone liked it enough to do that, but they didn’t actually ruin it.

– Richard Rouse III, designer, The Suffering

Still, it’s fun to imagine a world where there was a bad The Suffering film that kicked off a whole bad Midway series, including a Rocky-esque Ready 2 Rumble Boxing and maybe an NFL Blitz title starring Kevin James–just if we’re pitching stories.

The whole Richard Rouse interview is available here at CodeWritePlay.

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