2015 (as you've probably heard by now) will be a big year for movies in general, in particular video game-based cinema. The latter has yet to establish itself as being a full-fledged genre, like how comic book/superhero films managed during the 2000s (starting with Bryan Singer's X-Men), with such lukewarm tentpoles as the Angelina Jolie-headlined Tomb Raider movies, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Paul W.S. Anderson's Resident Evil franchise representing the "best" of the lot.
Leading the charge for good video game cinema in 2015 will be the Assassin's Creed movie adaptation, starring/produced by Michael Fassbender, and featuring a revised script from Oscar-nominee Scott Frank (The Wolverine). Today, we can formally add Duncan Jones' Warcraft movie to the roster, as Universal and Legendary Pictures have announced an official 2015 release date for the fantasy adventure.
Warcraft is slated to charge into theaters on December 18th, 2015, meaning it will help to kickoff the Winter Holiday frame for Hollywood that year. The film is being written by Charles Leavitt, whose credited work includes the socially-conscious Leo DiCaprio Africa drama Blood Diamond and next year's Seventh Son fantasy novel adaptation (in addition to director Ron Howard's Heart of the Sea, which started production last week, at the time of writing this). Levitt is reported to be drawing inspiration from the first two installments in the Warcraft game series (Orcs & Humans and Tides of Darkness), so as to craft a humans vs. orcs narrative that rivals Lord of the Rings in terms of complexity, scale and seriousness.
Jones, who is known for directing the critically-lauded sci-fi films Moon and Source Code, is currently putting together a cast for his Warcraft adaptation. There's nothing official to report on that front yet, but the shortlist of people who're said to be in consideration to play one of the fundamental Warcraft fantasy archetypes (wizards, mages, knights, etc.) includes Colin Farrell (Saving Mr. Banks) and Paula Patton (Baggage Claim), in addition to respected character actors like Paul Dano (Prisoners) and Anson Mount (Hell on Wheels), among others.
The biggest competition that Warcraft currently faces near its release date is Kung Fu Panda 3 (which opens five days later), but that will undoubtedly change in the future - with a franchise title like Mission: Impossible 5 having a reasonable chance of snagging a December 2015 date, following the same release pattern as its lucrative predecessor, Ghost Protocol. Nevertheless, the last month of the year have proven to be a prosperous launch date for fantasy blockbusters that transport audiences to another world, as Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy (and, currently, his Hobbit trilogy) have demonstrated - which bodes well for Warcraft (as far as box office prospects go).
Do you think Warcraft will perform just as well, better or worse at the box office in December than it might've during the busy Summer 2015 frame? Will Jones' video game movie suffer if Disney and Lucasfilm decide to release Star Wars: Episode VII in mid-December that year, as the studios have been rumored to do? (Though, now that Warcraft has staked its claim, that could mean that Episode VII is more likely to stick to the originally-planned Summer premiere.)
Warcraft opens in theaters on December 18th, 2015.
Source: Universal/Legendary Pictures