Everything We Know

Borderlands: Release Date, Trailers, Cast & More

Who's making it, who's in it, and will it be based on any of the games? We dig into all the details we have so far.

by | February 21, 2024 | Comments

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Get ready, moviegoers, to explore the wild alien world of Pandora — no, we’re not talking about the Avatar sequels, but the highly anticipated adaptation of the video game Borderlands. The role-playing first-person shooter series — which follows desperate people looking for vaults of alien technology on various dystopian planets, including one with a familiar name — will grace the big screen in the not-too-distant future. With the first trailer now available to watch, here’s everything you need to know about the Borderlands movie, set to be directed by horror icon Eli Roth and starring Cate Blanchett.

[Updated 2/21/24]

An Adaptation Has Been in the Works for a While

Cover of Borderlands game

(Photo by ©Gearbox)

The first Borderlands game debuted back in 2009 on a variety of platforms, and it has since spawned three sequels and a handful of spin-off titles. The series is renowned for its distinct, cel-shaded visual style and aesthetic, a Mad Max-inspired post-apocalyptic setting, and gameplay that straddles the line between a shooter and a role-playing game (RPG). The games are set in the year 2864 AD, during an age when corporations have grown large enough to colonize and essentially strip-mine planets for resources. The most precious resources are “Vaults” of advanced alien technology, and the basic storyline follows groups of “Vault Hunters” on the planet Pandora — and, in later installments, on other planets — as they fight miniature proxy wars for the various megacorporations while looking to cash in on the treasure themselves.

Lionsgate announced it was working on a movie adaptation in 2015, though as is often the case in Hollywood, actually getting the film made was slow going. Things sped up last year, though, when in February of 2020, Roth joined the project as the director. Borderlands also picked up a notable screenwriter and some big-name movie stars (more on them in a little bit, though.)

Filming began in Hungary in April of 2021 and wrapped just as summer started, on June 22 of the same year:

The Cast Is Spectacular

Borderlands will star Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett, who joined the cast in May 2020 when it was announced that she would be playing Lilith, a famed Vault Hunter and one of the game series’ most iconic figures. She’s joined in her mission by Kevin Hart, who plays the redemption-seeking mercenary Roland; Disney Channel star Ariana Greenblatt as Tiny Tina, a wild child with a knack for explosives; and Romanian actor Florian Munteanu as Krieg, Tina’s beefy protector.

Jamie Lee Curtis will play Dr. Patricia Tannis, a xenoarchaeologist who worked for one of the major megacorporations, the Dahl Corporation, before they abandoned the planet. Tannis discovered proof that a Vault does indeed exist on Pandora, though her sanity may be slipping. Jack Black will provide the voice for Claptrap, a snarky, bumbling robot who also serves as the unofficial mascot of the franchise.

Swallow and The Magnificent Seven star Haley Bennett appears in an as-yet-unknown role, with Cheyenne Jackson as Jakobs, the heir to the eponymous weapons manufacturing corporation, and Gina Gershon will presumably don a revealing bustier as ubiquitous bartender Moxxi. Édgar Ramírez plays Atlas, a businessman who might just be the most powerful man in the universe.

(Photo by Lionsgate)

Other stars include Olivier Richters as Krom, Janina Gavankar as Commander Knoxx, Charles Babalola as Hammerlock, Benjamin Byron Davis as Marcus, Steven Boyer as Scooter, Ryann Redmond as Ellie, and Bobby Lee as Larry. Magician Penn Jillette, who plays a character in the Borderlands 3 game, makes a small cameo appearance.

In early June, the Borderlands Twitter account shared a photo of silhouettes of the main cast — our best look at the characters before the first trailer showed them off in full.

It Has Been in Development for a Long Time

Eli Roth

(Photo by Michael Moriatis/©AMC)

Borderlands has been in some stage of development since 2015, when the project was first announced. By 2016, the film had a writer in Aaron Berg, who was then replaced in 2018 by Oren Uziel (22 Jump Street, The Cloverfield Paradox), who himself was also then replaced by Craig Mazin in 2020. Yes, the same Craig Mazin who penned the second and third Hangover movies and gave us both Chernobyl and The Last of Us.

Around the same time Mazin signed on, so did director Eli Roth, which may be a good or bad thing, depending on your opinion of him. Roth is known for horror films like Cabin Fever, Hostel, and The Green Inferno, but he frequently includes offbeat (and possibly off-putting) humor in his movies. The Borderlands series has the kind of weird humor that Roth seems ready to harness for the movie, if he’s willing to get a little dark with it. It’s also worth noting that Roth worked with both Blanchett and Black on 2018’s The House with the Clock in its Walls.

By the time 2021 rolled around, yet another set of writers had been brought on board, namely Juel Taylor and Tony Rettenmaier, who later co-wrote They Cloned Tyrone together. But after the production wrapped in 2021, the film sat in limbo for more than a year before it was announced in January of 2023 that there would be some reshoots (handled on Roth’s behalf by Deadpool director Tim Miller). In June of that year, Borderlands underwent its final change in writers, as Mazin took his name off the project and he was replaced by Joe Crombie — we’ll note here that Borderlands is Crombie’s only writing credit, and though people speculated it was a pen name for Mazin, he has denied those reports.

The Film Won’t Be a Direct Adaptation of Any Single Game in the Franchise

Here’s the official synopsis, via Lionsgate:

“Lilith (Blanchett), an infamous bounty hunter with a mysterious past, reluctantly returns to her home, Pandora, the most chaotic planet in the galaxy. Her mission is to find the missing daughter of Atlas (Ramírez), the universe’s most powerful S.O.B. Lilith forms an unexpected alliance with a ragtag team of misfits – Roland (Hart), a seasoned mercenary on a mission; Tiny Tina (Greenblatt), a feral pre-teen demolitionist; Krieg (Munteanu), Tina’s musclebound protector; Tannis (Curtis), the oddball scientist who’s seen it all; and Claptrap (Black), a wiseass robot. Together, these unlikely heroes must battle an alien species and dangerous bandits to uncover one of Pandora’s most explosive secrets. The fate of the universe could be in their hands – but they’ll be fighting for something more: each other.”

(Photo by Lionsgate)

While several of the characters in the film — Lilith, Roland, Tannis, Moxxi, and Claptrap, for starters — all appeared in the first Borderlands game, others like Tiny Tina, Krieg, Sir Hammerlock, and Wainwright Jakobs made their debut in later installments, indicating a mish-mash of characters from across the series. Fans of the games will also point out that we’ve never met Atlas, the presumed founder of the Atlas Corporation, in any of the Borderlands installments, though Édgar Ramírez has been cast for that role in the film.

Likewise, the story itself doesn’t draw directly from any one specific entry in the video game series, either. The overall narrative looks to be wholly original, albeit inspired by the games.

There’s A Trailer And a Release Date

The first trailer for Borderlands premiered on February 21, and it promises an action-packed, comedy-heavy sci-fi romp. Although the official synopsis says that Lilith and her crew are working to rescue Atlas’ missing daughter, there’s no real sign of that in the trailer, which seems to be more focused on the treasure-hunting aspect of the story. Presumably, the two plots are connected, as you don’t have a Borderlands movie without a search for legendary loot.

“Legend has it that there’s this massive treasure hidden in some secret vault,” Blanchett’s character Lilith explains in a voiceover. “And if you go hunting for it, you better take any help you can get, because it’s on the weirdest, most dangerous dumpster fire of a world in the universe.”

The rest of the trailer promises mayhem, including a drive through “Pisswash Gully” (which is exactly what it sounds like — keep those car windows closed). In terms of aesthetics, it seems to be very similar to the irreverent, colorful vibe of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, down to the use of an upbeat ‘70s pop song. The trailer is set to Electric Light Orchestra’s 1976 track “Do Ya;”  the opening action scene in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, you may recall, is set to a different ELO song, “Mr. Blue Sky.”

Will Borderlands fill the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 4-shaped hole in audiences’ hearts? We will find out when it premieres in theaters on August 9, 2024. The summer opening date was first confirmed in a tweet posted on July 20 of last year.

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