GSC Explain The STALKER TV Show

By Jim Rossignol on November 12th, 2010 at 5:56 pm.

No problem, I've already saved at the start of this bit.
The Stalker TV show was pretty much the most unexpected news item of the week, and I just had to drop a line to GSC to find out more. Below you can read my quick chat with GSC’s Oleg Yavorsky, in which he stresses that the TV show’s production is intended to be as faithful as possible the source game, and reveals that it will be timed to air on the release of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2.

RPS: How did the TV show come about? Isn’t it a bit far from usual game developing business?

Yavorsky: With the release of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl in 2007 we concomitantly launched a series of the game-world-inspired novels (published in Russian and German). So far, the number of books in the series has exceeded 45 (S.T.A.L.K.E.R. has been #1 sci-fi book series in Russia for the last two and a half years) with the aggregate sales number topping 5 million copies! The overall game sales worldwide are steadily approaching the same 5 million units mark. This said, the world of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. remains to be so multifaceted and deep that we could hardly think of any better way to reveal its essence than a TV series. Of course making movies is different from making games, but we work with professionals, and then it’s a very involving process to learn.

RPS: How directly are GSC involved in the development of the show?

Yavorsky: We keep our full control of the happenings. We take part in the story-writing, we pick the director’s group and decide on the cast, we control the shooting process, the post-production etc.

RPS: Are you guys funding it all yourselves?

Yavorsky: Yes, true.

Sausage for dinner.
RPS: Can you tell us anything about what to expect from the show in terms of plot? Which is the STALKER games is it closest to?

Yavorsky: The thing is, we do not adapt any game story into the movie, but create a new story based on the games’ Universe. We do understand the approach to making movies, games and books is all different. And therefore we’re putting together a story we believe best for the movie genre.

RPS: How faithful to the game world is the movie? Will we see mutants?

Yavorsky: It wouldn’t be S.T.A.L.K.E.R. if there’s no Chernobyl, radiation and mutants, expect to see it all! The decision to keep our control on the production was made specifically to make sure the TV series is faithful to the game.

RPS: Will any events from the games be featured in the TV show?

Yavorsky: You will hardly see specific game events, but expect to see certain characters from the game! And that game will be S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2, as opposed to the previously released ones.

RPS: When will the TV show air? And will it be network broadcast or internet-based?

Yavorsky: We are targeting the series to air in parallel with the release of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2, therefore don’t try to find it in your TV programme until 2012. Primarily we want to broadcast it via TV network, and maybe later on the Internet. We’re still considering it.

RPS: Thanks for your time.

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59 Comments »

  1. pagad says:

    Shiny.

  2. OctaneHugo says:

    If this ever ends up airing in the U.S., I wonder what channel it would land on. It probably wouldn’t sniff a major network like NBC, but would a place like USA really figure, “Hey, you know, this Russian sci-fi thing based on a game which is based on a movie which is based on a book could really rake in the cash”? If so, when would it air? Regardless of rating, this probably isn’t a show that would work at 8 PM on a Wednesday.

    • bob_d says:

      A foreign television show on American tv? Surely you jest. When has that ever happened? Even BBCAmerica is half US shows now. This isn’t even in English. If some wildly outrageous miracle happened, it might end up on IFC or a dubbed version on the Cartoon Network (late night)… I don’t see any other channel even thinking about considering showing it.

    • OctaneHugo says:

      Yeah, a channel like IFC would be a fair bet. Not sure why I didn’t think of it.

    • Psychopomp says:

      PBS.

      PBS loves foreign stuff.

      At least, they do here in Texas.

    • Archonsod says:

      Isn’t the usual US method to take the show and “americanise” it; i.e. take the show, butcher the script to an unrecognisable degree, change the characters completely to ‘appeal more to the US market’ and then cancel half way through the first series and start airing the original anyway because nobody likes it?

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      Scifi channel .. er.. “syfi” (?) has in the past been the host of some dramatically bad programs, as well as a few really good long shots (Sanctuary comes to mind). I can see them taking a shot at STALKER syndication.

    • Dinger says:

      Okay, let’s hit the econ. first: 45 books in Russian, one a best-seller for 2.5 years. Yes, they can locally produce a TV series that will tap that profit. Release it with English subtitles to a revenue-friendly internet source 3 months later to hit the peak crowd as the thing goes viral from its Russian origins (n.b., study previous Russian-language breakouts to determine optimum interval: the key is to release just as enough of the “in crowd” is torrenting the darn thing).

      Now, in industry-suit speak: rock and roll, baby! This puppy is the post-Soviet Godzilla! Let’s do some lines to celebrate!

      As someone who has the original STALKER and maybe two hours on it: the concept is ace; the TV show can be full awesome. I would like to see some episodes, dammit!

    • born2expire says:

      Here in Canada I could see either Space or Showcase airing this. Showcase loves foreign and indie stuff, Showcase is the channel that produces Trailer Park Boys.

    • Urael says:

      I’d be perfectly happy to watch it in the original Russian language with subtitles, as befits my experience of the game. And I expect the Internet’s number one distribution will be instrumental in feeding me this. Make it happen.

  3. Cael says:

    Well I’m excited.

  4. SirKicksalot says:

    “don’t try to find it in your TV programme until 2012″

    HNNNNGGGG

  5. pWEN says:

    45 STALKER books? Time to brush up on my German… Hau ab, Stalker!

    • solipsistnation says:

      No kidding! Dmitri Glukhovsky better pick up the pace!

    • Alastayr says:

      As far as I know, there are only 8 books actually translated into German. Publisher Panini is spacing their releases about six months apart, I guess they don’t have the manpower or market demand is simply not that high to warrant a more rapid release schedule.

    • Chris says:

      Release schedules tend far more to be about marketing than any real world concerns :)

    • squirrel says:

      45 novels already and not one translated in English? Not so nice

    • malkav11 says:

      Not terrifically surprising, though. There seems to be very little interest among US publishers in investing in the localization of foreign language novels, especially those that use another character set (like Russian and Japanese). And be sloooow. Consider the case of the Witcher novels – so far America has received English translations of….the first short story collection and the first novel. With no sign of a translation of the next book on the horizon.

    • DrazharLn says:

      Urgh. America is not the only English speaking country in the world, you know.

      There are 60 million of us here in the UK, 25 million in Canada, 20 million in Australia, 4 million each for Ireland, New Zealand, the Philippines and South Africa, 2.6 million in Jamaica… the list goes on.

      That list only counts those speaking English as a first language, include those speaking it as a second language and there are hundreds of millions more.

      /offended by your apparent Amerocentric view of the English-speaking world.

    • malkav11 says:

      Yes yes, but if I can’t personally buy it in America, it doesn’t much matter to me if someone in Jamaica can, y’know?

    • karry says:

      “S.T.A.L.K.E.R. has been #1 sci-fi book series in Russia for the last two and a half years) with the aggregate sales number topping 5 million copies!”

      Thats the first i heard of this. Yeah, i saw one or two of these books on the shelves here and there, but 45 ??? #1 seller ??? I call bullshit.

    • qrter says:

      With no sign of a translation of the next book on the horizon.

      Wrong! The next English-language Witcher book is coming in the spring of 2011, will be called Times of Contempt and be published by Gollancz in the UK.

    • dhex says:

      45 novels already and not one translated in English? Not so nice

      with 45 books in the series, how good could it be?

    • malkav11 says:

      So….it should only be 2012 or perhaps 2013 when I can read that next book. Awesome. :P

    • Adam Whitehead says:

      “Wrong! The next English-language Witcher book is coming in the spring of 2011, will be called Times of Contempt and be published by Gollancz in the UK.”

      TIMES OF CONTEMPT (a mistranslation, the ‘proper’ title should apparently be TIMES OF DISDAIN) has been delayed quite a few times. It was originally due out in 2009 and has been delayed a lot. I’m not sure why, as I keep forgetting to ask the relevant peeps (I have contacts at Gollancz as they send me review copies for the blog).

      It is weird though. The game sold 1 million copies and the second book (the first full novel, BLOOD OF ELVES) won the inaugeral David Gemmell Award. With THE WITCHER II due soon, I’d assumed that Gollancz and Orbit USA would have been putting these out more regularly. There’s still a second short story collection and three more novels even after CONTEMPT to come.

  6. jarvoll says:

    Is it going to be in Russian w/subtitles? If so, strongly interested.

    • malkav11 says:

      I suspect it’s more likely to be in Russian with no localization whatsoever, as there has been no mention of a foreign rebroadcasting arrangement. That said, here’s hoping for fansubbers to pick it up.

  7. Sir-Lucius says:

    I’m admittedly very skeptical of how good this may end up being, but I certainly take a lot more comfort knowing that GSC is this heavily involved in the whole process. The biggest problem most game to film adaptations have is the complete lack of regard for the source material (poor directing, acting, etc aside). They hook in the established fanbase with the franchise name and then get greedy and feel the need to rework the entire plot to try to attract more mainstream audiences. Oddly enough, while most games may suffer from poor writing/directing from a critical point of view, most games already have fairly accessible plots and themes that a mainstream audience could relate to in film form. I doubt so many would sell into the millions otherwise.

    Bummer that I can’t expect the show (and more importantly STALKER 2) until 2010 though.

    • Sir-Lucius says:

      And to add to that, mainstream gaming is already moving towards a more cinematic experience. Games like Call of Duty and Uncharted are practically big summer blockbuster films. Even Japanese developers like Capcom are moving in this direction with their more Western oriented games. Even games like Mass Effect with multiple decision trees wouldn’t be hard to adapt. Sure, you’d have to make certain decisions about which way to take the plot that would upset some fans, but if there were to be a ME film I’d rather them decide to save the Council than to completely rewrite the plot, add unnecessary characters, and miss the entire point of the game the way so many game to film adaptations have done in the past.

    • Kandon Arc says:

      If? Did you not know there is a Mass Effect film being made?

    • Jack says:

      I’m curious about that. Do you think they’ll give commander shepard a personality?

  8. l1ddl3monkey says:

    Hoping this is good. Wonder where they’re filming it?

    • Burglar says:

      Chernobyl maybe?

    • DrazharLn says:

      Probably not, seeing as it’s still irradiated and a semi-restricted zone.

    • coldwave says:

      You can move a couple of miles away from pretty much any Russian/Ukrainian/Belorussian city and find a Chernobyl-Pripyat-style abandoned or semi-abandoned landscape, abandoned factory, abandoned military object and everything you need to make a post-apocaliptic movie including a small kiosk with beer( not abandoned).

  9. Bascule42 says:

    Please though GSC…for the love of God…NO DUBBING for foreign broadcast deals. If any western broadcaster wants to dub it; tell ‘em to проваливай.

    • Premium User Badge

      romanlevin says:

      I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

    • Ted says:

      hey, bro, why don’t you want dubbing?

    • Thants says:

      Knowing Hollywood, there will be a shot-for-shot English remake of this shortly after it comes out.

  10. DXN says:

    Wow! Very interesting; I had no idea that Stalker novels were so popular (or the games themselves, for that matter). Hopefully this will be a step forward in making game adaptations less shite and more good, by showing that they can stand on the vision of the games and the developers themselves, rather than just providing a brand and a framework into which more “reliable”, Hollywood-esque things can be shoved (as Sir-Lucius says).

    In other DXN’s-opinion related news, I really really hope that STALKER 2 is more moddable than STALKER. It is quite open, but the SDK is rudimentary and the game’s workings are opaque and chaotic; even the most passionate modders have to do a huge amount of work to get anywhere with it. Especially because a lot of the code commentary, documentation (such as it is) and the developer’s input on forums is in Russian.

  11. dogsolitude_uk says:

    I don’t watch much TV over the airwaves or via cable, preferring instead to watch things either online or from DVD.

    In any case, I really really 100% want to see this in Russian with English Subtitles rather than dubbed. I hate dubbing. So if released on DVD I really hope that’s an option…

  12. Navagon says:

    Judging by the second image, they’re taking their hats seriously in this series. That can only bode well. Let’s hope it includes Sidorovich’s item shop too.

  13. UK_John says:

    Channel 4 in the UK – cable in America. DVD box set even if that doesn’t happen.

    But am surprised no one mentioned the quote that STALKER sales are closing in on 5 million! That puts it up there with any of the hyped AAA titles out of the U.S. when just the PC sales are taken into account rather than combined console and PC sales.

  14. [21CW]2000AD says:

    45 novels? Damn, i didn’t even know there was one (apart from Roadside Picnic if you count that, obviously). I hope they publish some in English, I’m more interested in them than in the TV series.

  15. Hybrid says:

    Really looking forward to this.

  16. kyyninen says:

    So they are making a TV series from a game, that is loosely based on a book, that spawned a very influential movie, which also at least partly inspired the game, while using some of the material from the books, that are based on the game, that is loosely based on a book, etc. etc.

    Am I only one whose brain is hurting?

  17. Woofles says:

    HEY BRO

    • MrEvilGuy says:

      I’ll dub this show myself by simply copying over the English dubs from the game.

  18. redrain85 says:

    Please be good. Please be good. Please be good.

    The STALKER series of games are fantastic, but I’m not so sure the property will translate well to a TV series. Hoping I’m wrong.

    At least there’s always Tarkovsky’s incredible film.

  19. Tim Ward says:

    These Stalkers are not mucky enough.

  20. Davee says:

    This could be good – but only if they lay off the cheap colour filters and CGI – save that for the really intense moments :)
    And err, get some proper subtitles (removing the original Ukrainian voices would be horrible).

    And oh, there must also be a cameo of the scientist from SoC doing the “Hello, hello. Hello, hello.”!

    If these points are successfully met, I’ll watch it.

    Meh, I’ll end up watching it even if it’s crap, just for the sake of it.

    • Pantsman says:

      Surely “Don’t just stand there, I said come in!” and “Get out of here, Stalker” are more important than “Hello, hello”?

  21. squirrel says:

    Watch the trailer again and suddenly noticed one cool thing: bolt action rifle.

    Sniper in long distance with a bolt action rifle…. Dont bother, stealth action in STALKER is just a joke. Hope the new STALKER game will feature bolt action without needing game mod though.

  22. terry says:

    I am willing to wager this turns out to be unintentionally hilarious.

  23. Dreamhacker says:

    Publish those STALKER books in english, guys! We’re feeling left out here!

  24. Vortexious says:

    Or you could just watch the 1979 movie.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0079944/

  25. camazotz says:

    I’d like to see the novels get translated in to English. Other novels (Daywatch, the Witcher novels) have made the transition and are quite good….damn, why didn’t I study Russian in college? (studied Japanese instead, which was also worth it)

  26. shaolinie says:

    As far as I know and from the looks of it they are releasing the series everywhere. This is as what the man said in interview for Russian journalist these TV series are made for viral marketing as person who sees them would decide to buy STALKER. These TV series are also non profit. They are funding it and just going to give to any companies that want to air them. I really hope that they release it on Internet and maybe DVD?

  27. Alex says:

    =)