You could argue that Duncan Jones’ Warcraft was the kind of movie that was almost doomed to fail from the start. Adapting a video game to film is a difficult enough task in itself (see Tomb Raider, Prince of Persia, and almost every video game movie before that), let alone one as expansive and universally-beloved as World of Warcraft. And when you anchor it all on a cast lacking true heavyweight box office draws and a complete reliance on CGI visuals, you’re almost bound to alienate some moviegoers.
As such, Warcraft bombed hard at the box office upon its release, recouping just $47 million of its $160 million budget in the States and being derided by critics as “a sluggish and derivative adaptation with little cinematic value.” Though it would go on to break a slew of box office records in China, Warcraft‘s $430 million total haul was still considered a disappointment by those involved, all but nixing Jones’ plans for the franchise to “rival Lord of the Rings.”
The thing is, Warcraft was actually loved and embraced by droves of fans, many suggesting the film was misunderstood. At least, that’s what Thrillist is arguing in their latest interview with Jones, where they asked the Moon and Source Code director to look back on the failures and triumphs of his summer notbuster (nailed it). When asked how he viewed the end product overall, Duncan was incredibly blunt:
I’m equally proud and furious about Warcraft. I love it. I spent so much time on it. I put all my heart into trying to make it work. Parts of it, I think, work but it also drives me crazy that I wasn’t able to push through everything that I knew needed to happen in order to make the film I knew it could be.
When asked why Warcraft didn’t translate to American audiences, he also had a unique explanation.
I think there might have been an element of cynicism. There’s a condiment that you can put on toast in the UK called Marmite. Their advertising campaign is that you either love it or hate it. I think Warcraft has a similar history in that a lot of guys and girls out there have had their relationships broken up because their significant others played too much Warcraft or for whatever other reason they don’t like Warcraft because of a rivalry with another game they prefer.
Despite the film’s… mixed reception, Duncan reiterated that he would still be interested in making a sequel:
If there were an opportunity for us to make another film in the Warcraft universe I really feel like we did the hard work in the first movie as far as setting the table. I would love to capitalize on 3 and a half years of hard work and be able to have some fun in that world now that I’ve done the hard work. [So] who knows? Maybe I’m just being a masochist.
Maybe, but there’s obviously still a huge audience for a Warcraft sequel were Jones and the necessary investors to fully commit to it (and possibly even skip out on the American box office entirely this time around, saving millions in advertising in the process). It’s far from guaranteed at the moment, but recent China/U.S. co-productions like the upcoming The Great Wall certainly suggest it’s possible, at the very least.
Warcraft will be released on Blu-ray on September 27, 2016.