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In talks with MTV, Sam Raimi has revealed that “Saving Private Ryan” writer Robert Rodat will be penning the World of Warcraft movie adaptation. The storyline will be an original effort, set in the Warcraft universe but not following the Lich King book (which had been rumored as a subtitle).
“We would choose… something that encompasses lands and characters and storylines, and we would be true to it. But our story may or may not be about one of those central characters.”
“We want to be really faithful to the game. We would have our writer, Robert Rodat, really craft an original story within that world that feels like a ‘World of WarCraft’ adventure. Only obviously it’s very different ’cause it’s expanded and translated into the world of a motion picture.”
“[The hope is to properly capture] the Horde and the Alliance and the mythology that takes place in the game, and the archetypes that the game presents. I think we would try and find touchstones within the game to make it accurate and true and choose one or some of the lands that are portrayed in the game with as much accuracy and authenticity as possible.”
Gary Whitta (screenwriter [Futurama episodes, Book of Eli, Live action Akira], author and game designer) has revealed that over the past two years he has been fervently working, in secret, on the World of Warcraft movie adaptation. However, since Raimi has come on board, the film’s direction has changed and Whitta is no longer involved. Whitta explains,
I had actually been working on this for the past two years. Had to keep it under wraps at the time but it doesn’t really matter now.
I worked very closely with Legendary and Blizzard to come up with a screenplay that distilled the sprawling Warcraft mythology into a narrative that was easily accessible to the non-player, and everyone was really pleased with the results — I personally thought my last draft of the script in particular was really kick-ass and did a good job of introducing the Warcraft world to non-players while also satisfying hardcore players who knew every nook and cranny of the universe. When Sam expressed interest in the property, however, he had his own pretty specific vision of what he wanted to do story-wise so that’s the version they’re now pursuing. I’m no longer involved but I wish them all the best with it; so far as I’m concerned Raimi is the best possible director for this.
Thanks Márton Gazdig.
Chris Metzen, Blizzard’s VP of Creative Development, has spoken with GameSpy about the latest WOW Movie developments — mainly Sam Raimi as director of the big screen adaptation. He discusses Raimi’s dedication to creating faithful adaptations (he didn’t have full creative control in Spider-man 3) and his excitement at seeing familiar places and characters brought to the big screen.
GameSpy: You’ve just made the big announcement that Sam Raimi will be directing the Warcraft movie. You’re co-producing, so what are your thoughts on the announcement?
Chris Metzen: We’re all very, very excited about the announcement. We waited a long time to announce a director. We’ve been with Legendary for a number of years and we’ve jammed a lot of ideas, and we’ve waited for the right personalities, the right chemistry to come together. We’re really, really stoked that it finally has. It’s pretty surreal that we’ve finally made the announcement. It’s finally like, “It’s on, it’s official, here we go.” We’re just stoked to get it going and see this thing starting to take shape.
GameSpy: Was Sam Raimi one of the originally targeted directors?
Chris Metzen: We talked about a lot of different people, and certainly his name was one of the first we had talked about. We’re all huge “Spider-Man” fans, and all of his horror content, like “Army of Darkness” is one of my personal favorites. Sam’s one of those guys who came out swinging with “Spider-Man,” in terms of handling the licensed product and all the geeky fanfare. The passion of fandom, he really translated that into something that everyone could love, and had a lot of heart. And those were really important components for us, in terms of translating a license, in building a cinematic experience that speaks to the license, but really sings to everybody. That was really, really important to us, so he was the perfect partner.
GameSpy: The fan base is relying on you to ensure that the movie stays true to Warcraft. Are you prepared to say that it will be?
Chris Metzen: Absolutely! Absolutely.
GameSpy: What most excites you about co-producing the movie?
Chris Metzen: The thing that would excite me most is just that it translates boldly. That it feels like a fan experience, and that a couple years from now, you sit down in a theater and you’re like, “They did it. They got it. That feels genuine.” It may not be about your Level 12 Night Elf Hunter, specifically, but all the familiarity — the locales, the places, the characters, the storylines — it all feels contiguous and one-to-one with your expectations. That’s my great hope.
The World of Warcraft movie is officially on the move, after many months of stagnation we thought the project may have died a quiet death. However, behind the scenes it seems there were some exciting discussions and today, two years since the initial announcement, Blizzard and Legendary pictures have named their director, one Sam Raimi.
Raimi has directed both the Spider-man and Evil Dead series, and may be a perfect choice, as someone that can take a huge wealth of core material (with a strong fan following) and deliver something phenomenal.
Raimi is currently set to direct Spider-man 4 which is due for release in 2011, production hasn’t yet started on the fourth movie, which gives the World of Warcraft movie a release date, at the earliest, sometime in 2012. (Assuming Spider-man 4 begins early next year, takes one year to complete and meets its release date, and that the WOW movie has a similar schedule).
LOS ANGELES, Calif. – July 22, 2009 — Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. and Legendary Pictures announced today that Sam Raimi has signed on to direct the eagerly-anticipated major motion picture based on Blizzard Entertainment®’s award-winning Warcraft® universe. Raimi has, in the course of his career, clearly demonstrated a genius for developing and adapting existing fictional universes for mainstream audiences while staying true to the spirit of the original content.
Raimi directed the Spider-Man trilogy, which has broken box-office records around the world and garnered five Academy Award® nominations. Known for his imaginative filmmaking style, richly drawn characters and offbeat humor, Raimi wrote and directed the cult classic, The Evil Dead and produced 30 Days Of Night. He most recently wrote and directed the supernatural thriller, Drag Me To Hell.
“At its core, Warcraft is a fantastic, action-packed story,” said Raimi. “I am thrilled to work with such a dynamite production team to bring this project to the big screen.”
Charles Roven’s producing talents were recently seen with last summer’s blockbuster The Dark Knight, which grossed in excess of $1 billion, was nominated for eight Academy Awards® and won two. His body of work also includes the widely acclaimed Batman Begins and the sci-fi classic 12 Monkeys. Roven, with Atlas producing partner Alex Gartner, will be producing with Legendary Pictures CEO Thomas Tull, Legendary’s Chief Creative Officer Jon Jashni, Raimi and Raimi’s producing partner Joshua Donen. Raimi’s partner, Robert Tapert, will be an Executive Producer and Blizzard Entertainment’s Senior Vice President of Creative Development, Chris Metzen, a Co-Producer.
“Partnering with Sam Raimi exemplifies Legendary’s mandate of marrying the highest quality intellectual property to world-class filmmakers” said Legendary’s Tull. “Sam’s passion for ‘Warcraft’ is undeniable and we know that he will create an incredible film worthy of Blizzard’s phenomenal franchise. We look forward to collaborating with our partners at Warner Bros. and continuing our successful relationship with Chuck in bringing this rich new world to the screen.”
“Blizzard Entertainment and Legendary Pictures have a shared vision for this film and we searched at length to find the very best director to bring that vision to life,” said Paul Sams, chief operating officer of Blizzard Entertainment. “From our first conversation with Sam, we could tell he was the perfect choice. Sam knows how to simultaneously satisfy the enthusiasts and the mainstream audience that might be experiencing that content for the first time. We’re looking forward to working with him to achieve that here.”
It appears that Uwe Boll applied to Blizzard for the role of director in the World of Warcraft movie. Shock horror I hear you all cry, especially when such an astoundingly bad director has these views about making a faithful adaptation:
“You go for it, to please the game fans, but on the other hand if you have the hard core gamers, they live in their own world. And you cannot fulfill their ideas from a video game based movie, it’s impossible. And to be honest, the real gamers are the typical download guys, right? They don’t pay anything for movies, because they illegally download the movies. So why I should please these guys? I need the normal audience.”
In the MTV article, Boll goes on to say that he spoke with Blizzard about helming the WoW movie:
“I got in contact with Paul Sams of Blizzard, and he said, ‘We will not sell the movie rights, not to you…especially not to you. Because it’s such a big online game success, maybe a bad movie would destroy that ongoing income, what the company has with it.”
Good news all round I say! Here, here, let’s move on to some good potential directors…
Today at BlizzCon 2007 we have heard our first solid and interesting information with regards to the Warcraft, or to some, the World of Warcraft Movie. This movie will be big, huge, EPIC even — in fact, Thomas Tull (producer of 300) stated a budget of over $100m would be committed, with a projected 2009 release date. Legendary Pictures are 100% committed to this project, it shall be a “tent-pole”, something to stand next to and say “we did that!” — whilst remaining true to the game and fan base.
The plot for the film will take place approximately a year before the start of World of Warcraft, including races you have played and lands you have wandered in, where lots of plot arcs are melded into a two and a half hour story. The film itself will revolve around a ‘badass’ new hero, with a theme towards conflict and culture — being a War Movie rather than a quest movie, from an Alliance’s perspective.
“It’s actually not like the great adventure. It’s not so much a quest movie. It’s more of a war movie. Well, okay, it’s absolutely a war movie. Cultures grinding up to a horrible moment where it just all spills over and gets out of control. Less of an adventure party quest-type situation. More of an armies building to an inevitable conclusion type situation.”
And w.r.t to the Alliance:
“While my heart lies with the Horde and Thrall’s an interesting character, from a movie making standpoint, a blockbuster movie its a little rough to try and tell it from the perspective of this green looking dude.”
No director or cast have yet been assigned to the project and Tull stated that recognizable actors to play main roles was not a necessity:
“We are starting those conversations. We’re going to be looking for someone of Zak Snyder (300) or Chris Nolan (The Dark Knight, Batman Beings) calibre,”
The not so good news — seems they are aiming for PG-13 content which claims to be a compromise. I personally miss the days of old when action heroes swore blindly.
“I can tell you that this is the one thing about running a studio and making these things that’s hard. You want to not compromise and have the right level of intensity. The story and the director’s vision is what’s ultimately going to dictate that. Personally one of my favorite movies of all time is Lord of the Rings, which has a PG-13 rating.”
The film is still in its scripting process, but Tull stated that they are currently working with something that they are very happy with.
And now for the first piece of concept art of the Teldrassil:
Other Q & A info:
Classes will be in the movie, but can’t give details since still in scripting process, not exactly clear and we don’t know yet, but we want many familiar elements in the movie as possible
What races will be represented? Not very easy to answer considering the timeline we’re talking about, so they are not sure about if the Forsaken have yet joined the Horde But not everyone can be in the spotlight in the first movie anyway
Warcraft has a lot of strong characters, would you consider going back to do another movie on Arthas? I would consider that, sure, but we haven’t talked about what other films might deal with. We have to get the first movie right first before you deal with franchises.
This is based on two or three major moments in the games, so it isn’t radically apart from the continuity, so it really holds together. We want it to taste like the World of Warcraft world. but it’s also really fresh. I understand the fear that you don’t want us to screw up the story, but we will be respectful of the continuity but will hold up as a killer 2 hour movie. It is a little modified.
There’s so much in this world to deal with, so you use that as a jumping off point to tell a kick ass story. They want the players to enjoy the movie experience, if they are too much a slave to the story that won’t be the case. They want to respect the world, but to translate it to the screeen and is great on film.
And here is an after-video from IGN:
Speaking at the Hollywood and Game summit keynote, Thomas Tull (Legendary Pictures Chairman) provided some rest-bite, ensuring us that the movie will be dealt with as necessary. He begins,
“We’re doing World of Warcraft, and making it into a movie. I have very strong feelings — from the movie side — that making movies based on games just because they sold well is a really bad idea. There’ve been some like that that weren’t up to snuff just out of the gate. It doesn’t matter to us if it’s based on a graphic novel like [Frank Miller’s] 300, or a TV show – if there’s a great universe and story, that’s what’s interesting to us.”
In the following Question and Answer session Tull stated that Legendary and Blizzard are working very closely together to get the storyline perfect by pinpointing what makes up the essence of the Warcraft universe:
“I think some of the stuff that makes a game translate well into a movie is a good story. If there’s a lore, if there’s a road and story and a world that’s been created, and characters that are interesting in a way that’s more than just point and shoot. You have to look at it and not make a novelty out of it. Not just look at sales records. Blizzard plays a very important role in this process. If you’ve created a game, be it Halo, Gears Of War, or Warcraft [each being transformed into a movie] — you came up with something that’s compelling enough to resonate with a huge number of people. There has to be a trust, and you have to at some point hand over the baton to people who know how to make films.”
“We are working very closely with the designers and writers, and they’re very involved. I think on the bigger [films] you have to have that. They’re sitting right there at the table with us as we develop the story and the script, and I think we’re nailing the story and what’s compelling about it.”
Via Gamasutra where you can find more news from the Hollywood and Game summit.
… and they asked him a little bit about the World of Warcraft movie. Itzik Ben Bassat is the Vice President of development and he says these few words:
There’s a World of Warcraft Movie in the works, do you expect that to enjoy similar success?
We’ve been working on that movie for years! If people only knew how many years we put in to closing this movie deal. We’re very happy with our progress though, it was really difficult for us as a company to find some we trusted to work with. With Legendary, well, they did Batman Returns and the new Superman so we knew that was a company we wanted to work with. Bringing Warcraft to the movies is the next step for us, we want to let people bring World of Warcraft into other aspects of their lives. After all, we’re competing for people’s entertainment time, whether it’s listening to music watching TV or going to the cinema. Our goal is to provide the best entertainment out there.
Any news on when we can expect to see the film?
Hollywood has it’s own pace but we’re working as hard as we can to push it forwards.
Check Empire for the full text.
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