The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (also known as Sorcerer's Stone in North America) were both brought to us in 2001. These movies revived the fantasy movie genre, which was helped by the huge leaps in technology that movies like Krull and Willow lacked.
The audience was almost denied these cinematic milestones, as a terrible movie with a famous name almost destroyed the genre in the year 2000. This terrible movie was called Dungeons & Dragons and it was named after the legendary tabletop RPG of the same name.
Dungeons & Dragons featured a unique mixture of over-acting and no acting at all from its cast. The special effects were on the same level as an FMV from an original PlayStation game and the sets were LARP-grade at best. The movie also had nothing to do with Dungeons & Dragons, save for a brief appearance by some Beholders.
We are here today to look at the drama that killed the production of the Dungeons & Dragons movie, as well as all of the crap that was created by the film.
From the important cameo that was cut to the dreaded future of the franchise, here are 15 Things You Didn’t Know About The Disastrous Dungeons & Dragons Movie!
15 Thora Birch Was Nominated For An Acting Award
A lot of actors have been accused of giving the worst performance of all time in a motion picture. Tommy Wiseau is a common target of this for his wailing in The Room, while a young Jake Lloyd was accused of ruining Star Wars with his emotionless portrayal of Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace.
Thora Birch's portrayal of Empress Savina in Dungeons & Dragons beats them all, as she refuses to act throughout the whole movie. She reads her lines without exhibiting human emotions. Birch just recites her dialogue without any attempt to make them seem like anything other than words in a script.
You may be surprised to learn that Thora Birch was actually nominated for the Young Artist Award for Best Supporting Young Actress for Dungeons & Dragons. This is a legitimate awards body that has been around since the '70s.
Thora Birch didn't actually manage to win any awards for her performance in Dungeons & Dragons, but that was only because there were no 17th level Clerics around to cast Miracle.
14 Damodar Was Stabbed And Thrown Off A Tower... But Lived
Jeremy Irons is bad in Dungeons & Dragons due to his over-acting and scenery chewing in every scene. Bruce Payne is also bad in Dungeons & Dragons due to his ridiculous costume.
He played the role of Damodar, who is Profion's right-hand man. Damodar was dressed in a ridiculous looking suit of black armor while sporting bright blue lipstick that made him look like a European fashion model.
It seems as if Damodar was killed at the end of Dungeons & Dragons because Ridley stabbed him in the back and then threw him off the top of a tall tower, which probably should have done him in.
Damodar actually returned in the second Dungeons & Dragons movie due to a retcon. It was revealed that Profion cursed Damodar with undeath, which allowed him to survive being thrown off a tall building.
Damodar survives the end of the second movie, though he is imprisoned in a dungeon.
13 Jeremy Irons Only Appeared In The Movie Because He Needed To Renovate His Castle
The greatest actors in the world still have bills to pay like the rest of us. Not every script that comes along is going to be some Academy Award candidate and most plays don't pay as much as movies or TV shows. As such, the best actors in the history of the medium have been forced to slum it in order to make a living and keep the tax man off their back.
Jeremy Irons had more reasons than most to take on a role in a movie as bad as Dungeons & Dragons. This is because he actually owns a castle. Jeremy Irons bought Kilcoe Castle in Ireland, which was originally built in 1450.
When asked about why he took the role of Profion the mage in Dungeons & Dragons, Irons will often say that he had bought a castle and badly needed the cash to renovate it. We can only assume that he means that he wants to fill each room with monsters, traps, and treasure, so he can become an actual Dungeons & Dragons villain.
12 One Of The Creators Of Dungeons & Dragons Appeared In The Movie (But Was Cut Out)
The Dungeons & Dragons tabletop game was created by Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax. Arneson is credited with creating the first ever Dungeons & Dragons setting, which was the world of Blackmoor.
Gygax was more focused on crafting the rules of the game, as well as developing the first official Dungeons & Dragons setting that was published, which was known as Greyhawk.
Gary Gygax had no involvement with the Dungeons & Dragons movie, even though he had previously worked on the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon series. Dave Arneson did make a brief cameo in the movie, though it was cut from the final version of the film.
In Arneson's scene, he played one of the mages who gets caught up in the battle against the dragons. He is seen casting a fireball spell at one of the dragons. They flew Arneson out to Prague in order to film the scene, only to not include it in the theatrical cut of the movie.
11 There Was A Sequel (That Was Way More Faithful To The Game)
The Dungeons & Dragons movie did poorly at the box office, which seemed as if it would kill any prospect of a sequel. You should never underestimate the power of a brand name, however, as two other Dungeons & Dragons movies were released in 2005 and 2011 respectively.
The second Dungeons & Dragons film was a made-for-TV movie called Wrath of the Dragon God. This film is held in equal disregard by both the audience and critics alike, due to its terrible acting, horrible sets, and Doctor Who levels of special effects.
Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God has been praised for at least one reason: it actually references things from the actual tabletop games. The movie features magical items (such as the Ring of the Ram), monsters (like the Lizardfolk), and mythical beings (like Obad-Hai and Jubilex being mentioned) from Dungeons & Dragons. This is something that the original movie sorely lacked.
10 The Thieves Guild Sequence Was A Reference To A Game Show
At one point in Dungeons & Dragons, Ridley needs to find a gem called the Eye of the Dragon. This piece of jewelry happens to be in the possession of Xilus, who is the leader of the local thieves guild.
Xilus offers to give the Eye of the Dragon to Ridley for free... if he can survive a maze full of deadly traps that will kill him in moments. Ridley manages to elude several traps that are taken straight from the Indiana Jones movies and retrieves the gem.
The role of Xilus was played by Richard O'Brien, who is probably best known for playing Riff Raff in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. His casting was no accident, as O'Brien is also well-known in the UK for hosting a game show known as The Crystal Maze.
This show involved contestants competing in individual tasks, with the promise of winning a crystal at the end should they finish within the time limit. The more crystals they earned, the more time the team could spend in the final arena.
Richard O'Brien's hiring as Xilus was most likely a shout-out to his role in The Crystal Maze.
9 There Is An Official Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Based On The Movie
A common problem in Dungeons & Dragons is that most players will create characters who are thinly-veiled copies of famous fictional figures. Chances are your D&D character is either Han Solo, Ryu from Street Fighter, Gandalf, or Drizzt Do'Urden, just with a new coat of paint.
If you ever wanted to play a Dungeons & Dragons adventure where you could star as the characters of the movie, then Wizards of the Coast had you covered.
They released an adventure called "The Sewers of Sumdall" which allowed you to play as the likes of Ridley, Marina, and Snails, as they seek to escape from Profion's guards through the filthy sewers. This means fighting against the perils that await in such places, including rats, zombies, and an Otyugh.
The vast majority of the encounters in "The Sewers of Sumdall" involve searching through piles of slime and trash. This is fitting, as this garbage adventure is filled with garbage.
8 The Movie Received A Novelization
Dungeons & Dragons is a movie adaptation of a tabletop RPG. The adaptation inception continued on with Dungeons & Dragons: The Movie, which is the name of the official novelization of the Dungeons & Dragons movie.
Dungeons & Dragons: The Movie was written by Neal Barrett Jr. He was likely going from the original script of the movie, as all of the scenes that were cut from the film (but still made it onto the deleted scenes of the home releases) are included in the story.
The book is otherwise totally faithful to the movie, which makes it a pointless read, as you may as well just watch the film if you desperately need to experience the story of Dungeons & Dragons.
Copies of Dungeons & Dragons: The Movie can still be purchased on Amazon, should you have a deep and abiding hatred of your own free time.
7 The Credits Joke Was Stolen By Harry Potter
If a movie prominently features animals, then it will likely have a special disclaimer during its credits that reassures the audience that the animals were well-treated during the production.
"No animals were harmed during the making of this film" is the message that is awarded to a film by the American Humane Association, which acts in the best interest of show animals.
There have been some movies that have created parody versions of this message to include in their credits. One example of this happened in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Harry and the three other Triwizard tournament contestants each had to face a dragon during one of the challenges. The credits of the movie featured a line stating that no dragons were harmed in the making of the movie.
The Dungeons & Dragons movie had already used this joke five years earlier, as the exact same message appeared in the credits of the film.
6 There Is An Alternate Ending (Which Is Way Less Cheesy)
The Dungeons & Dragons movie has an ending that is almost audacious in how confident it is in the idea that it will get a sequel. We're talking Super Mario Bros. levels of certainty in the assured bright future of the franchise.
The movie ends with the cast visiting the grave of Snails. Ridley places the Eye of the Dragon on the grave, which suddenly activates. Norda tells Ridley that the gem has the power to take them all to where "your friend awaits you," which results in everyone being teleported away. This ending hints at another adventure that is about to take place, with Snails returning in some capacity.
The original ending of the movie can be seen in the deleted scenes of the home releases of Dungeons & Dragons. Ridley gives a touching speech about Snails when he visits his grave and then walks away. This is a much more bittersweet ending, which has a lot more finality than the cheesy one that they went with in the theatrical cut.
5 In An Interview With BBC Thora Birch Insulted D&D Players
It seemed like Thora Birch was going to become one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. She gave an amazing performance in American Beauty, which seemed to be setting the stage for a promising film career. This never came to pass, partly due to her domineering and over-bearing father, whose behavior has gotten his daughter kicked out of productions.
Thora Birch isn't totally without blame, though, as she hasn't always handled herself well in interviews. One example of this happened during the promotion of Dungeons & Dragons when she was interviewed by the BBC.
It was during this interview that Thora Birch was asked if she had ever played a session of Dungeons & Dragons before auditioning for the film. She admitted that she had never even heard of the name Dungeons & Dragons before taking the role. She then said that she had been told that Dungeons & Dragons was something that was only played by the really weird kids.
4 Profion's Bone Filled Lair Is Actually A Real Place
The villain of Dungeons & Dragons is an evil mage named Profion, who is played by Jeremy Irons. He initially tries to pull the Emperor Palpatine trick and presents himself as a legitimate politician who is secretly trying to usurp the naive young ruler of a nation. This doesn't last long, as Profion soon turns into a comical villain who spits one-liners at his foes.
Anyone who visited Profion's house would realize that he was a villain, as all of the furniture and decorations are made from bones. It might be the laziest way to get across that someone is a villain.
Profion's lair wasn't just another cheap set, however, as it is a real place that you can visit. The Sedlec Ossuary is a church that contains the bones of around fifty-thousand people, which have been rearranged into furnishings.
This was the result of the chapel originally being a popular burial site, especially after the Black Death, which led to the unnamed bodies being reworked into artwork.
3 The Movie Was Bad Due To Numerous Issues That Spanned A Decade
The Dungeons & Dragons movie was a victim of numerous rights and ownership issues that were as damaging as the lawsuits that almost killed the game itself.
Courtney Solomon purchased the rights to Dungeons & Dragons, though he signed off on giving the controllers of the license (TSR at the time) the last say on director and script approval. This is what brought Solomon into conflict with Lorraine Williams, which led to James Cameron and Francis Ford Coppola being rejected.
Things took a turn for the worse when Wizards of the Coast bought the rights to Dungeons & Dragons. Production on the movie was finally starting, when they had it shut down due to a lawsuit.
This started a court battle between Courtney Solomon and Wizards of the Coast, which ended with a settlement that required the movie to start production immediately.
The investors forced Solomon to take over as the director and made him do an earlier script that he had previously rejected. It was these issues combined that killed the Dungeons & Dragons movie.
2 Warner Bros. Wants To Make A New Dungeons & Dragons Movie
In 1996, it seemed as if Dungeons & Dragons was going to die. TSR was millions of dollars in debt and had no means to save the company. The company was purchased by Wizards of the Coast in 1997, allowed the game to transition into its 3rd edition and find a new audience that kept the game alive.
Fans shouldn't have been worried, as some other company would have bought Dungeons & Dragons if Wizards of the Coast hadn't stepped up to the plate. This is because Dungeons & Dragons is an iconic name that pretty much everyone has heard of.
The name value of Dungeons & Dragons has prompted Warner Bros. to make a new movie based on the games. Not much is known about this new Dungeons & Dragons film, other than the fact that Ansel Elgort has rumored to have been in talks to star in the film and Joe Manganiello is working on the script.
The world of movies has changed a great deal since the first Dungeons & Dragons film was released. The fantasy genre has flourished, with The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Game of Thrones proving to be some of the most successful franchises of all time.
Could a new Dungeons & Dragons movie break free from the shlock of its forebears and make for an amazing movie? Only time will tell.
1 James Cameron & Francis Ford Coppola Were Interested In Directing
Dungeons & Dragons was directed by Courtney Solomon, who has gone on to direct and produce a lot of B-movies. He was actually a late choice to direct the film, as he had originally only wanted to produce it, due to his relative inexperience in the industry. As such he presented other candidates for the director's chair who would have been more suitable for the role.
Courtney Solomon had to run his picks by Lorraine Williams, who was the owner of TSR, which was the company that owned the rights to Dungeons & Dragons at the time. Solomon and Williams butted heads on numerous occasions, though her most galling behavior took the form of her rejection of two candidates to be the director of the movie.
James Cameron was interested in directing Dungeons & Dragons and was invited to a meeting with Lorraine Willaims. According to Courtney Solomon, she folded her arms and asked him what his qualifications were. This was two years after he had directed Terminator 2: Judgement Day.
Courtney Solomon later brought Francis Ford Coppola and Renny Harlin to meet with Lorraine Williams, and they were similarly dismissed.
Can you think of any other interesting facts about the failed Dungeons & Dragons movie? Sound off in the comments!