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Rumored Kingdom Hearts movie could be more Sonic than Final Fantasy

There are conflicting reports regarding how the Kingdom Hearts movie will be made, but I reckon it could tie into Kingdom Hearts 4.

Kingdom Hearts movie live-action: Sora lying on a sofa next to Strelitzia

A Kingdom Hearts movie is apparently in the works at Disney, but there are two ways Sora and friends could materialize on the big screen ahead of their next PS5 and Xbox adventure, Kingdom Hearts 4. While DisInsider states we’re getting an animated adaptation of the iconic series, reporter Daniel ‘DanielRPK’ Richtman claims the House of Mouse is looking to channel the Sonic movies with a live-action/CGI hybrid. If it’s the latter, I won’t be pleased.

Back on April 24, DisInsider’s Skyler Shuler revealed that, while the Kingdom Hearts movie was originally slated for a Disney+ release, we’re now possibly looking at a full-fledged box office blowout. However, nothing has been greenlit for the franchise that has brought us some of the best games of all time.

A week later, on May 1, DanielRPK chimed in to say that Kingdom Hearts would look to a mixture of live-action and CGI to bring its eclectic world to life. Though these reports are conflicting, and the veracity of both is questionable as a result, I know which horse I want to back.

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My very first cinematic exposure to Square Enix’s wondrous 3D animation came through the opening credits for Kingdom Hearts 2 – who needs to play them in order, anyway? – as well as the Final Fantasy 7 movie ‘Advent Children.’ The quality was unmatched by anything else I’d seen on TV or elsewhere at the time, completely blowing pre-pubescent me away.

Since then, it has remained a firm favorite of mine, whether it’s deployed in film, on TV, or in the studio’s RPG games. As such, the thought of a Kingdom Hearts adaptation – something I’ve been longing for since I first set foot on Destiny Islands two decades ago – being given the live-action treatment makes me shudder. I certainly hope DisInsider is more on the money than DanielRPK, that’s for sure.

We’ve seen a sneak peek of what an animated KH adaptation would look like, too. Two years ago, a 2003 Kingdom Hearts animatic pilot that had previously been lost to time was rediscovered and uploaded to YouTube. Here we can see original cast members like Hayden Panettiere (Kairi) and Tony Anselmo (Donald) breathing life into their on-screen counterparts – now that’s what I’m talking about.

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That being said, while I’d argue there’s a magic to the medium of animation that no amount of A-list stuffing can emulate – Disney’s fallen foul of this in the past – the recent success of the Sonic movies has made the concept of a live-action/CG mashup somewhat more palatable. I’d still much rather see Disney let Square cook up an animated masterpiece, but considering how long we’ve already had to wait, I’ll begrudgingly take what I can get at this point.

Regardless of how the Kingdom Hearts movie materializes, there are a couple of lingering questions – where in the timeline will it be set? And will its release coincide with the Kingdom Hearts 4 release date?

For question one, I have a couple of hypotheses. The first and most obvious one is that it will be a turbocharged retelling of the first Kingdom Hearts game. The 2002 original is an honest, straight-shooting story that wears its heart on its sleeve – the tale of a small island boy who becomes embroiled in a conflict far bigger than he could ever imagine, backed by his new-found friends as he searches for the ones he’s lost. There’s a lot going on, but it can quite comfortably be condensed into a standard three-act structure (if you throw some of the world-hopping into a montage).

Kingdom Hearts movie live-action: Sora running up a building next to a Darkside

Alternatively, the movie may serve as an introductory point for The Lost Master Arc – a (relatively) clean slate for the videogame series kicking off with Kingdom Hearts 4. This could be a Sora-fronted adventure in Quadratum, and it wouldn’t necessarily require an explanation for everything that preceded it. It would also be the most natural way a live-action adaptation could work.

Think about it, a boy with magical powers wakes up in the real world, and must learn to navigate his new environment while fending off familiar threats that have seeped through – it’s basically a reverse isekai. The KH4 reveal trailer is the most realistic iteration of Sora we’ve seen yet – Unreal Engine 5, baby – and as long as the CGI isn’t botched then faithfully recreating the Darkside sequence we see in the teaser is totally viable.

As for the second question, this is where speculation goes into overdrive. If the movie hasn’t even been greenlit yet, then we could be years out from a trip to the theatre. That being said, it’s been two years since we last saw anything concrete from KH4, so the pair could very well arrive hand-in-hand in 2030 – I’d like to say this is a joke, but we’ve been burned before. I’m still dreaming of a big Summer Games Fest surprise on the KH4 news front, though over the years I’ve learned to not get my hopes up.

For more of the latest from the best PS5 games and best Xbox games to come out of Japan, peep FromSoft boss Hidetaka Miyazaki’s latest comments on Elden Ring’s post-DLC future. While you’re here, drop us a follow on Google News – hopefully there’ll be more to report on the Kingdom Hearts front soon, and you won’t want to miss out.