Renowned filmmaking talents have long recognized that there is real cinematic potential in the intricate dark fantasy characters, settings and storylines featured in the World of Warcraft video game series. Indeed, 4-5 years ago a WoW movie adaptation was being planned from screenwriter Robert Rodat – who scripted director Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan and created the Falling Skies TV show – with Evil Dead and Spider-Man trilogy director Sam Raimi lined up to call the shots.

That version didn’t come to fruition, but the currently-developing Warcraft boasts a similarly-impressive writer/director pairing, with scribe Charles Leavitt (Blood Diamond) collaborating alongside filmmaker Duncan Jones (Source Code). Warner Bros. got the hardcore geek community buzzing about the project back during the 2013 International Comic-Con, where the studio and Jones premiered conceptual teaser footage from the high-fantasy adventure.

We’d previously heard that WB and Legendary plan to release Warcraft in theaters sometime in 2015, with this film being one of their last joint ventures (following the schism between the studios). The newest update from Production Weekly lends additional credibility to that assertion, seeing how they are reporting that Legendary has begun setting up offices for Warcraft at the Canadian Motion Picture Park (CMPP) in Vancouver – with principal photography scheduled to begin on January 13th, 2014.

Rumor has it that Levitt’s Warcraft script draft will draw inspiration largely from the first two installments in the WoW game series, being titled Warcraft: Orcs & Humans and Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness; though, it’s also “common knowledge” that Jones has plans to reinterpret the source narratives, rather than just slavishly replicate them on the big screen. That ought to be for the best, given that having a storyteller with a distinct voice (read: auteur) leave their stamp on a property adaptation often yields results that are more interesting – and often truer in spirit to the source material – than being a stickler for every single detail (example: compare the first two Harry Potter movies versus subsequent installments).

In our eyes, Jones has proven himself to be a skilled and thoughtful director with his previous films – as evidenced by his sci-fi features Moon and Source Code both making our list of “10 Best Sci-Fi Films of The Last 5 Years” – meaning, on those grounds alone, we’re interested to see his Lord of the Rings-eque take on the Warcraft games when it opens in theaters. Moreover, if this film and next year’s Guardians of the Galaxy movie both turn out well, then that should help to open the floodgates wider for more fantastical geek properties to make the jump to cinematic form (despite having previously been dubbed “too weird for audiences”).

As far as casting for Warcraft goes, we should be getting updates on who’s playing the non-human inhabitants in the upcoming months (assuming that the January 2014 start date is accurate); likewise, it’s feasible that Warcraft could be finished in time for the Summer 2015 movie season. However, given the competition on the schedule – which includes the Assassin’s Creed movie and more blockbuster franchise sequels than you can shake a stick at – there’s a reasonable chance that Legendary will settle on a Fall or Winter date instead (though Spring 2015 isn’t an impossibility… yet).

Warcraft is slated to begin production in January 2014, so look for more concrete details about the project to be made available over the next few months.

Source: Production Weekly