In a 2016 summer filled with high-profile box office disappointments, few loomed larger or fell harder than Duncan Jones’ Warcraft. The ambitious adaptation of the best selling videogame franchise was a near-complete disaster for Legendary Pictures and Universal in U.S. theatres, with a poor box office showing and scathingly bad reviews. However, it was popular enough with Chinese audiences that it’s possible a proposed sequel may only open there and skip a U.S. theatrical release entirely.
Many fans had hoped that a director’s cut might improve the film somewhat, but now Jones has seemingly put a permanent damper on any such talk.
Speaking to Thrillist as part of a wide-ranging look back at the divisive feature, Jones was asked about the possibility of a longer cut, and (to the likely disappointment of many fans) shut down any speculation in definitive fashion:
A lot of people ask me, “When is the director’s cut coming out?” There will never be a director’s cut. With a film like this, where there are so many visual effects, every concession that you make you lose those shots. They cease to exist because the effects work never gets done. Some of it’s not even at that stage. You go through a writing stage right up to the deadline of shooting the thing. [You lose] ideas in the writing process. Then sets change for whatever reason and notes come in. You’re changing things around a three-and-a-half-year process. You get these little changes which are constantly course-correcting you. So there is no possibility of there ever being a director’s cut. It’s purely in my head.
While certainly not the answer core Warcraft fans were hoping for, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise; director’s cuts are sometimes assembled by reintegrating discarded scenes that may only need minor tweaking to “match” the rest of the finished film. However, more than half of Warcraft is comprised of entirely digital backgrounds and elaborately motion-captured characters – meaning that most “cut” scenes were removed well before the expensive and time-consuming final effects rendering was set into motion. Re-rendering new effects for the restored footage would be a hard sell for a studio concerning a successful film, and it’s likely Warcraft’s investors might feel that they’ve already lost enough money on the project.
Jones has not ruled out a return to the Warcraft franchise, but will next turn his attention to directing the futuristic thriller Mute, which will follow a murder investigation being undertaken by a mute bartender and is set to star Alexander Skarsgard and Paul Rudd.
Warcraft will be released on Blu-ray on September 27, 2016.