Magic: The Gathering is the latest niche fantasy game (and Hasbro property) to begin the climb to the big screen, after Universal started pressing ahead with a Warcraft movie – with Duncan Jones (Source Code) calling the shots – and WB attempting to work out the legal complications that are holding up a Dungeons & Dragons movie reboot.
For those unfamiliar, Magic: The Gathering is a printed card game that was created by Richard Garfield in 1993 and represents ongoing fights between wizards (a.k.a. “planeswalkers”) who battle their opponents by use of various spells, enchanted artifacts and creature summonings.
According to THR, Fox has set writer/producer Simon Kinberg to produce the film adaptation, with the intention of putting together the first chapter in a new big-budget franchise “on the scale of Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings.”
Kinberg has his finger in several pies right now, including his role as the chief architect for 20th Century Fox’s budding shared Marvel universe – he wrote/produced this year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, is working on the followup X-Men: Apocalypse and he revised the Fantastic Four reboot script – and Lucasfilm/Disney’s forming Star Wars universe, where Kinberg is producing the animated series Star Wars Rebels for Disney XD and writing a spinoff film (one that might be a Han Solo origin story/spinoff).
Which is to say, for the foreseeable future Kinberg probably won’t much in the way of free time to devote his creative energy to getting the Magic: The Gathering franchise off the ground.
Warcraft and Magic: The Gathering face something of an uphill challenge, considering that full-blooded fantasy movies not set in either Middle-earth, the Wizarding World or Narnia have traditionally yielded mixed results, when compared to the box office heights reached by trilogies like The Hobbit or the Harry Potter films. Some have gone on to become cult successes on the home video market, but even in the age of the geek, niche fantasy movies aren’t surefire bets (see: the swords & sorcery/reboot Conan the Barbarian‘s box office under-performance).
Of course, with people like Jones striving to bring more respectability to movies that are about wizards not named Gandalf or Dumbledore – while Marvel Studios plans to introduce a truly mystical superhero with Doctor Strange in the next few years – it’s as good a time as any for Magic: The Gathering to make the transition to the film medium.
Now Fox just needs to cast a wizard as intimidating as Jeremy Irons, and Magic: The Gathering will be ready to go.
Screen Rant will keep you posted on development for Magic: The Gathering as more information is made available.