Despite losing both steam and a director, the long ruminating World of Warcraft adaptation is coming to the big screen. Losing director Sam Raimi after three years of pre-production set the adaptation back for Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros., but that hasn’t deterred them from pushing forward. Warcraft will not be another BioShock, Halo, or any number of game adaptation movies that died on the vine when their directors bowed out to pursue other projects. The odds that Warcraft will be as idiosyncratic a work as it would have been under Raimi are increasing as well, since the movie has been entrusted to another director with a history of offbeat independent features. Moon and Source Code director Duncan Jones is stepping into the director’s chair for Warcraft.
“We are pleased to announce that Duncan Jones, director of critically-acclaimed films Source Code and Moon, has signed on with Legendary Pictures to direct the upcoming live-action film based on the Warcraft universe,” reads an announcement on Blizzard’s own Battle.net.
The choice of Jones is a bold, and possibly brilliant one. Jones’ short history has earned him a reputation for originality, and Hollywood has taken notice. The director’s name has been floated for several major projects recently, and it was only a matter of time before he selected his next film, a film that most expect will launch him into the A-list of directors (assuming, of course, he pulls it off). Catching a promising young director on the cusp of directorial superstardom could pay off big for the Warcraft film, even if it does come with some risks. Both Moon and Source Code were filmed on a tight budget, while the Warcraft adaptation is likely to be a complicated, effects laden, big budget affair. In that regard it is a gamble, but the upside is huge.
The Hollywood Reporter first reported the story on Wednesday afternoon, confirming that Jones would be working from a script written by Charles Leavitt. Saving Private Ryan screenwriter Robert Rodat was originally working on the movie alongside Raimi back in 2010, but it’s unclear if any of that script will survive.
World of Warcraft has undergone more than a few changes since a movie adaptation of Blizzard’s seminal massively multiplayer role-playing game was first announced all the way back in 2009. The expansion, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, went on to became the fastest-selling PC game of all time when it released in 2010, pushing the audience up to 12 million players worldwide. The game has declined since though, with subscribership hovering around 10 million as of November 2012, and the latest expansion, World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, failed to replicate Cataclysm’s success. Pandaria sold just 2.7 million copies during its first week, whereas Cataclysm moved 3.3 million in just the first day on shelves.
World of Warcraft will be over a decade old when the Warcraft movie hits theaters in 2015. How will Blizzard use the movie’s release? Will it come alongside yet another expansion hoping to reinvigorate the aging MMO, or is the movie going to come alongside the long-rumored, never-revealed second Blizzard MMO referred to by the codename Titan? If a full World of Warcraft sequel was ever going to be released, Blizzard couldn’t hope for a better time than when a film version is hitting the screens.