Over the last decade, starting from around the time Lord of the Rings first made a splash at box offices around the world, Hollywood has been chasing the dragon, literally and figuratively, to find another sweeping fantasy epic that will capture the imaginations of audiences. Attempts have, for the most part, fallen flat, with efforts like Seventh Son, The Chronicles of Narnia, and even the LOTR prequels The Hobbit, failing to make the same cultural impact as Lord of the Rings did (though The Hobbit trilogy was a massive commercial success).
This summer, we can expect the big screen adaptation of another popular fantasy property come to life, when Warcraft hits the screen. The air of excitement, cautious though it might be, has fanned the flames of the idea that audiences want more epic fantasy at the box office, and studios are, once again, following suit. The long gestating reboot of Dungeons and Dragons, the popular tabletop RPG game which inspired the (hilariously awful) 2000 film of the same name, has already been written, with producer/dungeon master Roy Lee (The LEGO Movie) anticipating a full on shared universe to follow. That dream is now one step closer to reality, as the project has gained a director.
An exclusive at Tracking Board revealed that director Rob Letterman (Goosebumps) has been tapped to helm the Dungeons and Dragons film reboot, from a script by David Leslie Johnson (Orphan, Wrath of the Titans). Little is known about the movie’s narrative at this point in time, but one presumes the movie will follow a cunning warrior and their crew of mythical and mystical creatures as they journey to find an ancient treasure… or something to similar effect.
Letterman has, for his part, shown his ability to faithfully and creatively adapt beloved works into films that generally please audiences. Last year’s Goosebumps, based on the popular series of children’s horror books by author R.L. Stine, earned an impressive $150 million worldwide against a $58 million budget, proving he is more than capable of landing critical hits under intense pressure (sorry, had to be done).
Still, a movie like Dungeons and Dragons will have a lot to prove if it wants the love of its core audiences. First started in 1974, D&D has grown into a billion-dollar empire, with players around the world engaging in fantastical campaigns from the comfort of their dining room tables. There are a lot of moving pieces that must be gotten right if WB wants this project to be successful.
Story has always been tantamount to the best D&D campaigns. While it’s certainly fun to lose yourself in a fantasy realm, it’s the narrative that keeps people interested, and it’s the narrative that’s going to have to be central here. It’s not enough to just throw in dwarves, elves, dragons, orcs, and ogres and then hope that it all sticks. Action sequences alone are not going to win the day.
Johnson, for his part, might be able to bring that to fruition. While Wrath of the Titans was less than stellar, movies like 2009’s Orphan, and possibly the upcoming The Conjuring 2, show that the writer is capable of presenting a taut narrative that keeps audiences invested. His involvement with director James Wan’s Aquaman also suggests he should be capable of writing movies that are a smaller piece to a larger puzzle, which is exactly the hope for Dungeons and Dragons.
We’ll bring you more information on the Dungeons and Dragons movie reboot as it becomes available.
Source: Tracking Board