Assassin’s Creed Movie Has Started Filming In Malta

09/13/2015

Michael Fassbender and Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard share the screen in the upcoming Macbeth, a Shakespearean film adaptation that’s been generating positive buzz ahead of its U.S. theatrical bow (close to the end of 2015). Those actors and the movie’s director, Justin Kurzel, have already started working together again on a very different sort of flick based in a period setting: Assassin’s Creed, based on the Ubisoft video game property of the same name.

Ubisoft Motion Pictures – the film production company formed by Ubisoft in 2011 – and 20th Century Fox have already unveiled the first official look at Fassbender, dressed in the familiar Assassin garb for the Assassin’s Creed feature film. Production is now formally underway on the project, with principal photography currently taking place in the Southern European island country of Malta.

The Malta Film Commission confirmed to Malta Today (hat tip to SR reader “Etienne”) that Assassin’s Creed began shooting in Malta over this past week. Malta has served as a shooting location for such historical action/adventures and dramas as Gladiator, The Count of Monte Cristo (2002), and Troy over the past fifteen years, in addition to having been used in such recent globe-trotting thrillers as World War Z and Captain Phillips. For Assassin’s Creed, Malta is “playing” 15th century Spain, for a storyline not based on any previously-released Assassin’s Creed video game narratives.

Malta Film Commissioner Engelbert Grech issued the following statement, regarding the news:

“Malta has truly become a key film location. Assassin’s Creed chose Malta following discussion with the Malta Film Commission and will benefit from incentives offered to productions filming in Malta.”

Michael Fassbender Aguilar Assassins Creed Assassins Creed Movie Has Started Filming In Malta

Michael Fassbender Aguilar Assassins Creed Assassins Creed Movie Has Started Filming In Malta
Michael Fassbender as Aguilar from Assassin’s Creed

Here is how Malta Today summarizes the Assassin’s Creed film plot (further confirming previously-reported details):

The story is about a revolutionary technology that unlocks genetic memories. Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) experiences the adventures of his ancestor, Aguilar, in 15th Century Spain. Callum discovers he is descended from a mysterious secret society, the Assassins, and amasses incredible knowledge and skills to take on the oppressive and powerful Templar organization in the present day.

The Assassin’s Creed movie supporting cast includes Michael Kenneth Williams (Boardwalk Empire), Ariane Labed (The Lobster), Carlos Bardem (Escobar: Paradise Lost), and Denis Ménochet (Inglourious Basterds). Meanwhile, behind the camera, Kurzel will be joined by key Macbeth collaborators, including screenwriter Michael Lesslie and director of photography Adam Arkpaw (who also shot True Detective season 1); other noteworthy personnel include the production designer Andy Nicholson (Divergent) and costume designer Sammy Sheldon (Kick-Ass 1 & 2, Ant-Man).

assassins creed syndicate video game Assassins Creed Movie Has Started Filming In Malta
Covert artwork for the Assassin’s Creed Syndicate video game

Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed video game franchise boasts a rich mythology – one that got Fassbender’s attention before he had even played one of the games – that (as most fans would tell you) could easily sustain a movie franchise, if handled well during the adaptation process. Kurzel and his crew appear to be approaching the Assassin’s Creed film as they would otherwise approach any story based largely in a historical setting (see the choice of Malta as the film’s real-world backdrop). That’s encouraging, as it suggests the filmmakers are looking to craft a compelling piece of cinema solely on its own terms – its relation to the Assassin’s Creed video game IP, aside.

assassins creed syndicate video game Assassins Creed Movie Has Started Filming In Malta

Assassin’s Creed the movie is (officially) based in the same universe as the video games, though, so the film may contain elements that lay a foundation for future installments to draw more heavily from the source game mythos… assuming the film’s a success, of course. The sordid history of video game movies is well established at this point in time, but this is one project that has real potential to break that “curse” at long last.