The night before Comic-Con 2009 I wrote an article about a movie adaptation based on one of the biggest and most successful video games of all time: World of Warcraft. Sam Raimi, coming off the critically acclaimed Drag Me To Hell was still developing Spider-Man 4 for Sony at the time and word had it that he was going to direct the long-awaited Warcraft movie.
Nothing came of it and despite Raimi researching the gig over the years, he revealed over the summer that he was off to project due to his obligations to Disney for Oz the Great and Powerful. He specifically said “they had to start making it” and therefore needed a new director. And a new director they have found.
Legendary Pictures has signed Duncan Jones to helm the World of Warcraft live-action film based on the series of games and successful MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) by Blizzard Entertainment. Jones of course, comes to the franchise with a proven track record of sci-fi films (see: Moon, Source Code) that center on rich and unique characters. In a genre that’s failed to break out of the “sucky” trend, Jones may be right choice to deliver a blockbuster epic that fans (and critics) can get behind.
With the dropping of Raimi and subsequent hiring of Jones, it’s clear that Legendary is ready to get Warcraft into development. And good for them. They’ve been pushing the high fantasy and sci-fi genres in recent years with their other long-in-development adaptation Mass Effect and have Pacific Rim and The Seventh Son releasing later this year with another monster movie (Godzilla) in development.
Shortly after Raimi parted ways with Warcraft, Legendary brought in screenwriter Charles Leavitt to pen a new script to replace the one written prior by Robert Rodat (Saving Private Ryan). Leavitt wrote The Seventh Son for Legendary and according to THR’s scoop on Duncan Jones taking the director’s chair, the screenplay is being kept top secret.
Adapting the over-exaggerated aesthetic and character designs of Azeroth (the world where the games take place) will be a challenge for Jones, but the rich universe allows for endless possibilities of characters and story arcs. Take a look at the original cinematic trailer for World of Warcraft (2004) and the trailer for Mists of Pandaria expansion from September:
[Update #1] Duncan Jones tweeted the following after the report:
So the gauntlet was thrown down ages ago: Can you make a proper MOVIE of a video game.Ive always said its possible.Got to DO it now!
— Duncan Jones (@ManMadeMoon) January 31, 2013
[Update #2] The Tracking Board claims Warner Bros. is interested in Johnny Depp to star, but with his upcoming obligations to Pirate of the Caribbean 5 (and other projects), we’re not sure how possible that is.
World of Warcraft could begin shooting this fall for a 2015 release.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes for your video game and movie news.