Promising: WoW Movie Snags Moon, Source Code Director

By Nathan Grayson on January 31st, 2013 at 11:00 am.

Once upon time, Legendary Pictures’ long-stalled Warcraft movie had a director. Then it didn’t. In the wake of Spider-Man and Evil Dead maestro Sam Raimi’s mighty battle-leap into Oz, Blizzard’s own heaving epic seemed destined to stall. Surprisingly, however, it’s once again back on track. With David Bowie’s son at the helm, naturally. But Duncan Jones is an excellent creator in his own right, having previously been responsible for the likes of Moon and Source Code, both of which did super interesting sci-fi things with unique settings and characters. Granted, he’s not the first person I’d think of for a preposterously mega-budgeted fantasy swordsplosion, but who knows? I’d have never tagged Chris Nolan for Batman, either.

The Hollywood Reporter got the scoop, noting that Jones will be teaming up (in some capacity, anyway) with Blizzard’s Chris Metzen, he of being named like a reindeer and also producing pretty much all of Warcraft’s lore, I guess. In addition, Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni will produce for Legendary, and Charles Roven and Alex Gartner will be on board for Blizzard and Atlas. I don’t know who any of those people are.

But when will we actually be able to watch the MMO-flavored fruits of their labors? Well, assuming all goes according to plan (hah), Warcraft will hit the big screen sometime in 2015. It’s beginning production this fall, though, so that only leaves a scant few months for some 18-wheeler drama truck to come screeching out of nowhere and ruin everything again. Dare we hope things finally go off without a hitch? No. No we daren’t.

For his part, however, Jones seems pretty excited. “So the gauntlet was thrown down ages ago,” he tweeted. “Can you make a proper MOVIE of a video game? I’ve always said its possible. Got to DO it now!”

So that’s a good sign. And honestly, I’m legitimately interested to see what sort of direction he decides to take this in. I mean, Warcraft’s one of those universes that’s grown so expansive and bloated that just about anything fits. While that often means groan-worthy humor and overwrought melodrama, it also leaves room for Jones to carve out his own slice, trim the fat, and craft a tale that tickles our brainbones in the same way Moon and Source Code did. Inevitably, it’ll be much larger-scale (a $100 million budget tends to have that effect), but – while bigger certainly doesn’t mean better – it also doesn’t necessarily mean worse. I, for one, will be hopeful right up until the point Jones ends up on another project, gets addicted to Blizzard’s own Titan MMO, or – at the rate this movie’s going – dies of old age.

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87 Comments »

  1. c-Row says:

    I’ve said this before – I am not too sure about the prospect of a WoW movie in general, but Duncan Jones? Yes please! I loved Moon and everything about it – the design, the story, Sam Rockwell’s character, Clint Mansell’s score…

    • DukhaDave says:

      Just what I was about to say. No interest in Warcraft at all here, but thought Moon was superb. Might have to keep an eye on this after all.

      • Shuck says:

        Which rather makes me feel that this will end up being a terrible waste of Duncan Jones, who could be working on a good movie, instead.

        • iainl says:

          The last couple of years have been consumed in Jones spending time on projects that haven’t made it to shooting before getting dumped into development hell. So I’ll take anything that might actually get released, for now.

          And maybe one day someone will feel brave enough to fund Mute after all…

          • Shuck says:

            Spending a year or two of pre-production time on movies (or games) that don’t end up being made is just how the industry works. The WoW movie has been in pre-production for 6+ years and could get delayed again. Best case scenario is that the Warcraft movie is out in 2015 and we get to see a movie worth watching from Jones a couple years after that.

      • Dhruun says:

        You have no interest in Warcraft? I understand not caring about WoW, but it seems odd that someone who plays games on PC hasn’t played the RTS games.

        • Tukuturi says:

          Because Warcraft is the only RTS game on PC.

          In all seriousness though, I played WC3 quite a bit, but I couldn’t tell you anything about the story except that there were evil zombies and some guy got corrupted by a sword. It was all pretty ho-hum next to the gameplay, which is what WC3 was about anyway. I also played WoW for three years, and couldn’t tell you anything about its story except that there were red guys and blue guys and a guy made out of fire and some dragons. I did try to read the Warcraft novel that a friend got with the collector’s edition of WoW, but it was trash.

          Starcraft was the only Blizzard game with a story that stuck with me in any way, and I think that had more to do with my being 15 than anything else.

    • Magnetude says:

      Maybe my favourite part is the blink-and-you’ll-miss it Matt Berry appearance. Awesome movie.

    • Firkragg says:

      I just happened to see Moon yesterday after I got home from work. Great movie, one I sat down to watch with no expectations (had not heard of it until I saw it on netflix – yes, i’m a hermit with a net connection).

      This will be interesting to follow indeed *stroking imaginary beard motion*

    • DeathHamsterDude says:

      Yeah, Moon really was fantastic. Source Code was good too, just not in the same calibre. Clint Mansell is a fantastic composer. Moon and The Fountain are my favourites, but Black Swan and Pi are great too. I’d say Requiem For A Dream as well, but honestly I’m a little worn out what with it being used in every trailer for about five years. Summer Overture was the precursor to Inception’s BRAUUUUUUUHM!

      Very wary about a Warcraft movie. If you’d ask me back in the mid nineties I’d have been a giddy boy indeed, but I’m not convinced they can make a good movie out of it.

      • Guvornator says:

        It depends how they do it. It’s got the lore background for a decent LOTR ripoff (which let’s face it, WOW is anyway), but if they just focus on the questing without seeing the bigger picture, it could be a mistake…

    • roryok says:

      Ditto. Loved Moon and Source Code. He’s a talented guy. Also this is relevant :http://blog.manmademovies.co.uk/tag/scumm/

    • Revisor says:

      Another vote for Moon here. One of my favourite movies that was never shown in cinemas here. Thanks, internet!

    • D3xter says:

      Same, Moon was brilliant in its own way. I’d like more Sci-Fi stories like that.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Moon was an absolutely spectacular film. Here’s to hoping.

  2. Raiyan 1.0 says:

    Warcraft movie? Meh.

    Zowie Bowie at the helm? Fuck yeah!

  3. derella says:

    I’m not overly optimistic about a WoW movie, but hey, Moon was great.

  4. Gesadt says:

    oh c’mon the guy made 2 pretty good movies. you would think that’s enough not to be referred to as David Bowie’s son.

  5. zachforrest says:

    given Moon/Source Code’s themes about existentialism ‘n’ stuff, I wonder if he’ll address WoW’s role as a fantasy, escapist realm

    • moocow says:

      Moon and Source Code were also pretty reveal-heavy.

      Maybe I’m too optimistic to hope for something closer to an adaptation of Reamde, I could see how it would fit with his previous work. That is, a film about WoW, not in WoW.

      I hope there’s at least some reason he was willing to sign on that involves something more interesting than just a generic fantasy film within WoW lore.

    • The Random One says:

      That was my first thought as well – I’d have him pegged to make a movie about WoW players, not WoW itself. It’d be pretty much an ultra-depressing version of The Guild.

  6. Screwie says:

    Duncan Jones is a great director, but I wish he was trying to make some other game license into a credible movie instead.

    • Guvornator says:

      Well, it would be nice to think that he’s already got a vision for how he wants it to turn out. Given his movie background it’s not a stretch to say he may be familiar with it.

      • Screwie says:

        It was more an expression of my absolute disinterest in WoW, more than a comment on Duncan Jones’ approach or his ability to make something from it.

        • Guvornator says:

          I totally understand that (having never felt the urge to play WOW or any MMO). I’d just rather him do a franchise that he gives a shite about, even if I don’t.

          • lordfrikk says:

            I know it’s a trend nowadays to forget about it, but there were other Warcraft games before WoW even came up into any sort of consideration at Blizzard.

          • Grygus says:

            Yeah but their stories and lore have been folded into WoW, so when it comes to a movie the distinction is likely moot.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      He’s a big time Ultima fan, but I don’t think that name would even raise an eyebrow in Hollywood.

  7. Maxheadroom says:

    I dont think I was parasitically interested in the prospect of a WoW film even back when I was playing it (circa Burning Crusade), but i do remember thinking they should definitely re-hire the same voice actors they use in the game.

    They’re awesome!

    /sarcasm off

  8. Rao Dao Zao says:

    He’ll have to be a master of his ‘craft to make something good out of this.

  9. Spinks says:

    Apparently he’s a hardcore gamer and has been keen to do it for ages (this interview is from 2010 …)

  10. buzzmong says:

    What’s the betting that Felicia Day lands a role in this?

  11. Giuseppe says:

    Moon was great. Source Code was more like nice, but “meh”.

    However, this being based on a game, namely WoW, I know two things:
    1. It will be crap, because it’s based on a game.
    2. It will make tons of money, because it’s World of Warcraft.

    • woodsey says:

      I thought Source Code was very good too, although it entirely craps on its own rules in the last five minutes. Still, according to Wikipedia it was written entirely by someone else, whereas Jones co-wrote Moon.

      • iainl says:

        As soon as you realise what’s really happening, the actual rules are perfectly intact. It’s all about which quantum interpretation you hold to.

      • Giuseppe says:

        I think it was “nice, but meh” because, while I admit it’s not without its merits, it’s one of the few films that left so little impression on me that I completely forgot I had seen it. :))

    • f1x says:

      Actually WoW lore and characthers could give for a very good history… a good old fashioned fantasy epic tale,
      hell they could just make a movie about Thrall or something like that
      but of course it all depends on how they write it, actors, etc and what direction they take, as you said they better forget this is about a videogame in terms of aesthetics and such

      • Skhalt says:

        I would actually qualify the Warcraft lore as “completely ludicrous”, but to each his own, I guess.

        • f1x says:

          Its pulp fantasy, that doesn’t make it bad and it could make a great entertaiment movie, thinking about Willow for example, and warcraft lore is perfect for that sort of movie, a good adventure without philosophical or mystical pretentions

          On the other hand if you are speaking about lore from the last 3 wow expansions, yeap things are a bit weird..

          • Skhalt says:

            Thing is, I’m a huge Warhammer fan, so I guess I just can’t see the Warcraft lore as anything other than the cheap fanfic-level ripoff it initially was. I can quite easily appropriate the Warhammer universe (both fantasy and 40K) and make it my own, make it into something that makes sense to me despite some of the original concepts being just as ludicrous, but I just cannot connect with Warcraft in the same way.

          • f1x says:

            Oh yeah, there I agree absolutely
            Warhammer is far superior, if you have to compare both, Warcraft feels like a watered down version

            connecting with Warcraft history, yeap, I get your point, when I defended it I was thinking about some history lines which are fairly interesting, such as Thrall history, Arthas and Lordaerons fall (more or less, part of it), The Scarlet Crusade, etc
            but thats just a back history, it would take an awesome writer to actually write a good movie out of it

          • hilltop says:

            I think there is a lot of potential in some parts of the warcraft lore. It always galls when I think of how they cheapened everything that happened in Warcraft 3 and the expansion by twisting the loose ends of those stories into lamentable boss-fights in the MMO.

            But reading some of the contest-winning fiction (In the Shadow of the Sun, for example) made me consider how interesting exploring a particular niche of the world could be.

          • Arglebargle says:

            WoW is pulp fantasy, and it is badly written to boot. It’s like a bad D&D GM’s sad fantasy campaign background. The world and the lore certainly kept me from playing either for an appreciable amount of time. It’s going to need a serious scalpel, perhaps even a surgical grade chainsaw, to cut the rancid fat away and end up with a good movie. That said, I always thought the game trailers were far better than the games. Good luck to the director.

            Warhammer stuff was at least very cleverly written, despite the horribly fiddly British rules.

        • Giuseppe says:

          I don’t know if it’s completely ludicrous or not, I don’t know a big chunk of the lore. However, as f1x said, it’s pulp fantasy. Hardly original, hardly well written. In games, it generally tends not to matter that much. There are many examples of games with a completely bonkers premise, or a completely cliche one, that have been highly appreciated by gamers and critics alike.

          In film, it depends a lot on what you want to make of it. Obviously lots of films with completely ludicrous or entirely derivative plots were huge box-office hits; however very few of these can make even a modest claim to being good films from an artistic perspective. Practically every game-derived film I’ve seen has had a truly dumb plot and/or was too far from the style of the game it was supposed to based on.

          Besides… Activision Blizzard plus the movie industry can only mean one thing to me: cash cow whoring.

          I really wish to be proven wrong and see a great film based on a video game, but, on the other hand, I kinda don’t want Activision Blizzard to be the one that pulls it off.

          • f1x says:

            I’m sure already it won’t be a “great” movie, like a masterpiece,

            but it can be a very fine piece of entertaiment, thats why I mentioned Willow,
            Thats one movie I can rewatch any time and have a good time (even tho, it aged quite bad), but can’t ask anything more from it than that, its not genere defining or anything

            I wish Warcraft could go something near that, in its own style, and that they aim for the sense of adventure and magic/fantasy worlds
            instead if they try something too pretentious/super-cool they could end with something like Underworld and that would be a big fail

          • derbefrier says:

            Willow, man I haven’t thought about that movie in years. I thought it was the best movie ever made when I was a kid though.

            More on topic though I agree with you. a WoW movie wont get any Oscar nominations for sure but It can still be fun to watch kind of like an 80s action movie. But as far as video game movies go I suspect this will most likely be a special effects extravaganza with a shitty story. Basically a transformers movie in a WoW setting is what I would expect.

  12. woodsey says:

    What a waste of a great director. Fingers crossed this either proves to be false or he bails.

  13. Juan Carlo says:

    100 million is a pretty small budget for an epic fantasy these days. In fact, that’s practically an indie movie budget relative to most big special effects ladden movies. The last Spiderman cost 230 million and that was shit.

    So it will be interesting to see what Jones does here. I actually think the smaller budget might help by forcing him to be more creative out of necessity.

    • Guvornator says:

      For the first film in a franchise, £100 mil seems decent. Bare in mind that Spiderman (and, for that matter, most superhero film franchises) have a proven track record in the cinema. Video games don’t, really. The nearest is the Resident evil series* and that’s more to do with the vast pots of money they make, not the actual quality.

      Anyway, here’s the list of shame http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_films_based_on_video_games#International – a must for fans of schadenfreude. Of particular interest is 20th Century Fox’s decision to wang $30mill in Uwe Boll’s direction for a Far Cry movie, straight after his master works, “Bloodrayne” and Postal**. It made an earth-shattering, um, $753,264 (Worldwide)…

      *Of largely horrid films…
      **although the latter did actually turn a profit, remarkably.

  14. misterT0AST says:

    Nicolas Cage as Arthas Menethil.

    • Jackablade says:

      They’d have my ticket money.

    • Low Life says:

      I wonder if they’ll retell an existing story, such as the Warcraft 3 campaign, or make up something completely new. Even with all its ridiculousness (or perhaps because of it) Warcraft is the only fantasy setting I give a crap about, so I’ll be interested to see what comes of this.

      And as a slightly more important question, CGI Thrall or makeup Thrall?

      edit: Well, that was certainly not meant to be a reply.

  15. trjp says:

    Moon was great aside from the fact it “shot it’s bolt” WAY WAY too earlier, only someone mentally damaged couldn’t see where it was going after that and it was a shame because until that point it was decent.

    So expect a big Dragon to start talking about 20 mins in – and some songs and dancing by 40 mins.

    Oh and there will be no ‘War’ because – well – everyone is really friends and a lot of the cast are the same people on both sides anyway :)

  16. Skabooga says:

    1. Replace all of Blizzard’s writers with Duncan Jones
    2. Keep all of Blizzard’s CG FMV animators (not that they are necessarily doing this; I imagine the movie will be filming real flesh-and-blood people.)

    I’d be willing to watch that. The best thing about this movie is that it has no potential to further tarnish Warcraft in my eyes, so I can approach it with something like an open mind, without fear or reservation.

  17. ocelot113 says:

    The only memorable story in Warcraft was Warcraft 3′s story line, and they said a while back they won’t be making that. So, little interest so far.

    • Juan Carlo says:

      Pretty much all the Warcraft stories are pretty generic and uninteresting. It’s why I don’t have much interest in a Warcraft movie as the setting doesn’t exactly scream for a film adaptation.

      At the same time I think it’s also generic enough of a setting that you could do pretty much whatever you wanted to do with it. So if someone has a strong idea about a story that would make a good movie, which incidentally, could easily be adapted to Warcraft in retrospect, I think a good movie could be made. But I don’t have much hope in someone sitting down and writing a Warcraft movie from scratch using the game’s mythology, just because I don’t think the game’s mythology is very cinematic or interesting at all.

      • Arglebargle says:

        The game’s background is pedestrian and poorly written. Still, if you are good, you can come up with something….

      • ocelot113 says:

        Arthas’ story is actually very compelling. A princes righteous anger turning him into to a zealous crusader, being cursed by a blade that, in his raging blindness, thought would save humanity, turning him into a slayer of men, killing his father, the king, and instead of becoming king of men, becomes the lich king, king of the dead. That is a great story, but like I said, they already stated they won’t be using it. Other than that, the Thrall and Grom’s sacrifice destroying the demon blood curse to destroy the slavery of the orcs to the demons was pretty good. The problem is that all that was in W3, because World of Warcraft did very little for me in terms of building GOOD Warcraft lore.

  18. KillahMate says:

    Jones pretty clearly said that he plans to prioritize Warcraft lore over any gameplay elements in the adaptation.

    World of Warcraft is Lord of the Rings as envisioned by Disney at its worst – derivative, safe, vanilla, kitchen-sink, undercooked and overblown. Its few interesting parts are the parts they already said they won’t be adapting.

    The only chance in hell this has of being good is if Jones writes a completely original story and uses Azeroth as simply a backdrop. Here’s hoping.

    • Kester says:

      Warcraft lore has been retconned so many times that they could pretty much do anything, I think. But they probably won’t.

      I kind of wish they’d base it on the old Warcraft lore, which had a certain fun irreverence. The story of the first game was basically “Orcs! They fucking kill everyone!”.

  19. tedbailey says:

    You are missing the big scoop in this story. They have the moon! THEY HAVE THE MOON!

  20. Tuco says:

    Moon was the best sci-fi movie of the last decade.
    There, I said it.

  21. wodin says:

    Moon is a superb film. Had a real retro feel to it. Space design of the seventies really had a certain artistic quality that moon managed to replicate.

  22. trjp says:

    Actually – just get my old guildmaster to make this, no-one on earth knew more about the material and he could terrify armies of people into doing the right thing at the right time…

    He once rang someone ‘live on Teamspeak’ to ask them why they weren’t online and they were at a funeral – and he managed to get them online in time to finish the raid

    THAT ladies and gentlemen, is the director you need…

  23. Engonge says:

    Enough lollygagging!Make Tim Burton shoot Grim Fandango.

  24. mynsc says:

    It’s a Wacraft movie, not a WoW movie. For anyone that has read the lore this is a pretty huge difference. Pretty much all the intrigues in WoW are in some way consequences of events that happened in the first Warcraft games. Those first stories are the ones that need and probably will be told.

    Anyway, I think the Warcraft world has a huge potential and if the movie will be done right, this could very well achieve LotR’s success.

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