If I haven’t made it clear by now, let me lay it out for ya: I’m a mega DDR freak. I’ve written countless articles about not only Dance Dance Revolution but also about similar games like StepManiaX and Pump It Up. And while I may not be super great or anything, I sure do love it. So the announcement of a DDR movie should get me excited, right?
Last week, Variety reported that a Dance Dance Revolution movie, of all things, is currently in the works. Developed by Greg Silverman’s recently launched Stampede studio and produced by J. Todd Harris and Marc Marcum of Branded Entertainment, the film will purportedly “explore a world on the brink of destruction where the only hope is to unite through the universal language of dance.”
Although I am pretty intrigued by a big-screen adaptation of one of my favorite games of all time, I have to admit that this concept is sorta...weird. I mean, maybe I’m being a little harsh, but you have to at least acknowledge the silliness of it. Perhaps the end product will be ultimately be a fun, arrow-stomping romp. But from the logline alone, the DDR movie seems a little goofy.
I suppose the real problem lies in creating a story out of a series with, like, no narrative. (Though I bet some weeaboo anime kid could totally prove me wrong.) How do you take a purely interactive game experience and give it the kind of narrative substance expected from cinema? That’s a tall order, so I’m not going to count Stampede out before they’ve even gotten started.
Even though I’m not a big movie boy, I do definitely have some suggestions for this film. While it may seem silly, I want lots of fanservice—as many references, easter eggs, and cameos as they can fit. I’d love to see a film that embraces DDR culture in every way, featuring iconic songs, recognizable game themes, and at least one big-name competitive player. I’m crossing my fingers that this isn’t a quick cash-in and that Stampede respects the 20 years of heritage they’re dealing with.
However, I also think there’s nothing wrong being a little tongue-in-cheek. Take the Lego Movie, for instance. The base Lego building sets have no narrative, yet Chris Miller and Phil Lord were still able to craft one of the best animated films of all time by taking a very comedic spin on the source material. The same sort of approach could be applied to the upcoming Dance Dance Revolution film with great success.
Whether it’s super serious or entirely self-referential, I’m just hoping for a solid movie. Time and time again, we’ve seen great video games translated into really abysmal movies, and I certainly don’t want Dance Dance Revolution to end up the same way. A series like this deserves the best. After all, we don’t want another House of the Dead movie on our hands.
Despite the somewhat amusing concept, I can absolutely admit that I’m excited. The fact that DDR is getting a movie is pretty rad—especially if it ends up being groovy as frick. What’s even cooler about all of this, however, is what it means for the Dance Dance Revolution community.
The history of Dance Dance Revolution is like one huge up, followed by a steady down, followed by a gradual up (no puns intended). The series saw massive popularity in the early-2000s, but it became sort of niche as time went on. However, following the North American release of DDR Ace in 2016, the series’ popularity has been on a noticeable uptick. DDR and the rhythm game community as a whole are growing substantially. It’s a fun time to be alive.
What this conceptual Dance Dance Revolution movie could do is catapult the series back into the mainstream. If enough people see this movie and get back into DDR, we could have a very real resurgence on our hands. And if the game becomes so popular that people start demanding it in more locations, we could even see an expansion outside of Dave and Buster’s and Round1 USA. Konami might recognize the value in the North American market and lower the barrier to entry.
You see, Konami directly ships Dance Dance Revolution Ace from their factory in Japan to arcade operators in North America. As such, they require a minimum order of 50 units—a steep number for smaller venues. That’s why Ace can only be found in D&B and Round1 locations across the United States. If this DDR movie ends up being huge and helps reignite interest in the series, there could be some change. An American distributor could bring DDR Ace cabinets stateside in a much more attainable capacity. In short, this could be big.
Of course, this is simply speculation. For all I know, this DDR movie could do nothing more than temporarily increase arcade earnings. Still, the mere possibility of a wider North American DDR Ace release is incredibly exciting. There are so many players out there who just want access to a machine. If a DDR movie can make that happen in some indirect way, then it’s worth making.
But it’s gotta be good, too. Don’t forget that part.
With no release date in sight, we’ll have to wait for more news to form real opinions. Until then, I guess I’m done yappin'.
See ya round, ya sweaty nerds.