Splinter Cell is one of Ubisoft’s most popular franchises and, even though there hasn’t been a new game released since 2013’s Blacklist, it still has a loyal fanbase. A movie version of the iconic stealth actioner has been in the works since 2005, but still hasn’t materialised.
The movie has long been pitched as a vehicle for star Tom Hardy, who initially signed on in 2012 to play the series’ iconic hero, Sam Fisher.
Not long after Hardy’s casting, the adaptation seemed to be picking up speed. By 2014, the project had a completed script and a high-profile director on board in Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Edge Of Tomorrow). But then came more setbacks. Liman vacated the director’s chair in 2015, and the project entered the dreaded development hell.
There hasn't been much news on the movie since, although it looks like a big-screen adaptation of Splinter Cell is going to have some small-screen competition. It has been announced that Netflix is working on a Splinter Cell anime series, which will be written and exec produced by John Wick’s Derek Kolstad. The show has been commissioned for two series and will premiere on the streaming service sometime in 2021.
So, where does that leave the Splinter Cell movie? Will it ever see the light of day? Here’s everything we know about the project so far.
Splinter Cell movie cast
The only actor cast so far is Tom Hardy, who’s down to play iconic black ops agent Sam Fisher. However, he was initially cast in 2012 and the project still hasn’t entered production eight years later, so he may well have decided to move on from the project.
The last we heard, a new version of the script – written by Frank John Hughes (who wrote TV crime drama Justifed) – was completed in 2017. Producer Basil Iwanyk, who’s best known for shepherding the John Wick franchise, confirmed that it had been sent to Hardy to read over.
Hardy’s A-list status has certainly solidified since he first signed on, and if anyone can help get the movie off the ground, it’s him. If he’s invested in a project, he’ll definitely throw his weight behind it. Case in point? Venom, a movie that was savaged by critics and widely expected to flop, ended up earning nearly $1 billion at the worldwide box office – in large part thanks to Hardy’s support (he was also an executive producer) and star power.
Splinter Cell movie plot
At this point, we’re not sure what the plot of the Splinter Cell movie will entail. We know that its protagonist will be grizzled yet wisecracking Sam Fisher, a former US Navy SEAL who’s recruited by the National Security Agency to work for the mysterious ‘Third Echelon’ black ops division. Stealth is the name of their game, with Fisher often sporting a pair of iconic ‘trifocal’ goggles while on missions.
There’s plenty of material from which to mine story ideas, though. To date, there have been seven Splinter Cell games and a series of successful tie-in novels, so the scriptwriters shouldn’t be short of inspiration.
Splinter Cell movie release date
With the movie still languishing in development hell, there’s no guarantee that it will actually get made, let alone have locked in a release date. However, there is a ray of hope on the horizon.
It has been widely reported that a new Splinter Cell game for next-gen platforms is in the works at Ubisoft, and could hit shelves in 2021. Could renewed interest in the franchise, thanks to a new game and the upcoming Netflix series, finally give the Splinter Cell movie the greenlight? Here’s hoping.