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A bad idea for a movie

A bad idea for a movie

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It was announced earlier this week that the fine folks over at Radar Pictures are developing a major motion picture out of the annoyingly popular Facebook game Mafia Wars.

Essentially an organized crime simulator, Mafia Wars lets gamers earn fake cash and experience by mastering such useful gangster skill sets as assassinations, racketeering and -- most often, it seems -- inviting friends to join the game.

I used to get dozens of Facebook requests a day from friends who wanted me to join their drug-running campaign or help them slaughter an orphanage full of puppies or whatever you do in Mafia Wars. I say I used to get these requests, though, because now I just unfriend people who play Mafia Wars.

Created by the web development company Zynga, Mafia Wars seemingly is the first web application to receive a major motion picture deal. Can we now expect news of a Farmville movie or perhaps a Quiz Monster mini-series?

Facebook itself is the subject of an upcoming film from Academy Award nominated director David Fincher. Filming from a script by West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network stars Zombieland's Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook.

Sorkin, who adapted his screenplay from the book The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal, takes a look at the unprecedented success Zuckerberg found when he created the world's biggest social networking site.

Since being founded in 2004, Facebook has seemingly become the go-to site for online communities -- with people of all ages, locals and socio-economic statuses possessing accounts.

Games such as Mafia Wars and Farmville have sprouted up in conjunction with Facebook, offering members of the networking site even more ways to waste their time and annoy their friends with endless requests.

It's interesting that Hollywood would be turning to Internet activities such as Facebook and Mafia Wars for ideas -- especially since these new hobbies have, in some ways, changed the way movies are made and released.

The interconnectivity offered by the Internet and perpetuated by sites like Facebook and YouTube have made it possible for up-and-coming talent to be discovered.

Adam Sandler's production company offered filmmaker Patrick Jean a development deal after his short viral video Pixals became an Internet sensation -- and he's not alone. Every day you read about artists making it big after being discovered online.

At the same time, social networking sites have made it easier to pirate films. Looking at this summer's box office tallies, it's obvious that fewer people are going to the movies. Whether it's because of the declining quality of what's being shown or because people are downloading movies at home is up for debate.

Whatever the reason, Hollywood needs to rethink its strategy of mining potential films from the annoying stepchild of Internet obsessions. Mafia Wars probably won't be the massive hit that lures audiences back into the theater. If anything, it will remind them there are cheaper ways to waste an hour and a half than paying $10 to see a bad movie on the big screen.

* Follow Robert Saucedo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/robsaucedo2500.

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