Although details on the upcoming World of Warcraft movie – now simply titled Warcraft – have yet to surface, those present at San Diego Comic-Con 2013 were not only treated to an appearance by an openly exuberant Duncan Jones, but the first teaser trailer.
But prior to that announcement, director of the upcoming Deadpool film Tim Miller and Deus Ex co-writer C. Robert Cargill took part in a panel on the growing trend of game-to-movie adaptations. Unsurprisingly, Warcraft came up in the discussion – and they’re not as optimistic as fans might hope.
As the head of special effects house Blur Studio, Miller has overseen the creation of several jaw-dropping cinematic trailers in recent memory, while also working on high-profile projects like James Cameron’s Avatar (2009). The studio has made no secret of their ultimate goal of producing feature films, and have turned numerous heads due to their action-packed and brilliantly-choreographed video game trailers, changing the world of games marketing along the way.
One of Blur’s more recent cinematic shorts for ‘Elder Scrolls Online’
Given that experience, Miller revealed, he was brought in to give his two cents when word of a live-action Warcraft movie was first circling. The decision makes sense, since few directors had as much experience with converting games to cinematic short films as Miller’s team, but the meeting didn’t turn out the way Blizzard expected.
Upon hearing the pitch, Miller was left with unnamed individuals who asked what he thought about their plans. Regardless of whether the plot was, or is, the one being carried by Duncan Jones, Miller’s reply was as concise as it was damning:
“They asked me what I thought, and I told them: ‘give me ten minutes in the washroom alone and I’ll come up with a better dark fantasy story than Warcraft. Warcraft is just a big ripoff of [tabletop and video game series] Warhammer, and Warhammer is just a big ripoff of Lord of the Rings.'”
“I don’t think World of Warcraft should be a movie… I’d want to see a movie from the point of view of the Horde – with Orcs, Taurens, Dark Elves – but we won’t get that.”
Even fans of Warcraft would admit that the basic plot elements (an Orc Horde vs. the world of men, with elves and dwarves thrown in for good measure) are fairly well-tread in the fantasy genre, with The Lord of the Rings one of the few properties able to garner the attention of anyone other than devoted fans. It’s no secret that a Warcraft movie would be made to capitalize on the brand recognition, but as Cargill and Miller point out, more substance will be needed.
After piling on the prospects of a Warcraft movie, Miller drew laughs from the audience when he restated his confidence in Duncan Jones as the film’s director:
“To be clear: I think Duncan Jones will make a great World of Warcraft movie. But he would make a great dark fantasy story whether it had that name or not.”
This was before the first footage of Jones’ World of Warcraft teaser was revealed, and while it may be too early to pass judgement, Miller’s confidence seems to be well-placed. Duncan Jones wouldn’t give any details on which characters or ‘sides’ of the Warcraft mythology the film would focus on – although the credited writers are reason for optimism – but Blizzard certainly isn’t hoping that fans of the film will place more stock in its director than its title. How that goes over with mainstream audiences… well, we’ll just have to wait and see.
Where do you land on this issue? Do you share Cargill and Miller’s concerns about adapting only the most successful, not the most interesting video games to film? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.
Warcraft is set to begin filming in 2014.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.