Hollywood has been trying to successfully turn video games into movies for as long as video games have been a thing, but thus nobody has quite figured out how to make it work with any kind of consistency. Few filmmakers have successfully been able to translate great games into even passable films, despite myriad attempts involving everything from legendary franchises like Super Mario Bros to more recent modern hits like Far Cry. While adaptations of Tomb Raider and Resident Evil have found box-office success, both have been widely derided by fans and critics alike.
The latest round of hopes for the genre to finally achieve real success have centered on Warcraft, the Duncan Jones directed fantasy adventure based on the classic strategy games that later birthed the wildly-popular MMO World of Warcraft. A new TV spot has been released for the film, offering audiences a new look at the epic battle of humans versus orcs.
Set in the earlier lore of the franchise predating the better-known “World of” mythos, Warcraft depicts the battle between native peoples of the world of Azeroth and a fearsome race of orcs who have arrived through an ancient portal from their dying homeworld Draenor. Unlike other fantasy films, which tend to cast their opposing forces in strict terms of good or evil, Warcraft aims to depict a more ambiguous scenario where both sides believe themselves to be in the right and unwilling to compromise what each sees as the only hope for their respective cultures. The film’s story will focus on the relationship between the human knight Sir Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel) and orc chieftain Durotan (Toby Kebbell) and the possibility that they might work together and find a way to save both their people – even as calls for war escalate on both sides.
While fans have praised the film’s attention to detail in recreating the unique look and feel of the world and its characters, so far Warcraft has been a tough sell for mainstream audiences. The trailers have been praised for their spectacular visuals and exciting-looking actions sequences, but industry insiders worry that the dense, unusual mythology of the games and the heavy focus on the bizarre-looking CGI orcs as part of the main cast will prove off-putting to moviegoers.
In order to succeed where so many others have come up short, Warcraft will have to differentiate itself from the blockbuster pack and bring together not only fans of the genre and the games’ legion of devoted followers, but also mainstream audiences hungry for a different breed of summer spectacle (the potential for positive reviews from critics, who’ve proven fond of Jones’ previous efforts, could also be of help.)
The film is scheduled to open on June 10, opposite sequels to The Conjuring and Now You See Me, which seems like solid alternative-booking for a big-screen fantasy epic – however, it will face stiff roadblocks to sustain long-term profits beginning one week later with challenges from Disney’s hotly-anticipated Finding Dory and the Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson/Kevin Hart buddy comedy Central Intelligence; to say nothing of the potential juggernaut of Independence Day: Resurgence on June 24. Still, the filmmakers would likely prefer that to their original would-be competition; the film was previously scheduled to open in December opposite Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Warcraft storms into theaters on June 10, 2016.