He was still putting the finishing touches on the feature film Red Dragon, but director Brett Ratner still managed to squeeze in a spot for Sega of America's new videogame Shinobi.
As it happens, the martial-arts-themed game is an update of the classic 1987 version, which has long been one of Ratner's favorites. So when Leagas Delaney, San Fran cisco, asked him to direct a spot for the launch, he set aside a night to shoot and even enlisted some of Jackie Chan's stuntmen.
The result is an action-packed, tongue-in-cheek 30-second spot that breaks nationally this week to coincide with the game's release. Sega, also based in San Francisco, plans to back the title with a $5 million campaign that will run through the holiday season on youth-oriented cable networks. Sega spends $50 million annually on advertising.
"I played Shinobi back in the day, and it has deep roots in the hip-hop and urban community," said Ratner, who is also preparing to direct a remake of Superman. "I loved the way the spot showcased the new game but still had a subtle nod to the heritage of the game."
The spot opens with a teenage boy playing Shinobi in the back of a convenience store. The scene looks like Japan, but the spot was actually shot on a Los Angeles street made to look like downtown Tokyo.
Suddenly ninja warriors start fighting in the store. Shelves topple and a throwing star whirls past the videogame screen. But the boy remains fixated on the game. He finally looks up after a ninja throws his sword and it destroys the arcade console. With that, he realizes there has been a fight and exclaims, "Shinobi is back."
"We wanted to make sure the spot wasn't just based on pure action, that it had a sense of humor," Leagas creative director and copywriter Jae Goodman said. "Rush Hour [also directed by Ratner] was just like that—the action is great, but it also has a humorous side to it."