The Sci-Fi That Tried to Change Cinema but Lost $100M and Killed a Studio Saves the World on Streaming

There’s a reason why there are so few movies in the history of cinema that can genuinely be called game-changers, trailblazers, or revolutionaries, and it’s because upending such an established medium takes something truly special to accomplish. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within did at least try, but it couldn’t have failed much more spectacularly than it did.

The first photorealisitic computer-animated feature film that had ever been made, a team of 200 people dedicated four years of their lives to transform the video game adaptation into an awe-inspiring epic that would forever alter the complexion of the industry, notching up a mammoth $137 million budget in the process, which is roughly the equivalent of around $240 million when adjusted for inflation.

Image via Square Pictures

In addition, star Ming-Na Wen’s character Aki Ross was touted as having the potential to become the world’s maiden digital actress, meaning the long game was for the pixelated creation to crossover into various forms of live-action media to carve out a career despite being entirely fictional, which even saw her land a racy magazine photoshoot for some reason.

Despite all of its visual splendor, though, The Spirits Within was a catastrophe. Earning just $83 million during its theatrical run, the project didn’t just rack up losses close to $100 million, but it tanked so hard that production company Square Pictures ended up closing its doors completely and going out of business.

It may not have been the long-lasting legacy it was looking for, but the film did manage to make a mark nonetheless. More than two decades on, and Rakuten users have even encouraged it to come out of its shell and find a new lease of life, with FlixPatrol revealing it as one of the platform’s top-viewed titles.



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