The next few years are going to be crucial for the genre of video game movies, which thus far has yet to really enjoy any major successes. Ubisoft is kicking off its slate of games-turned-films with Assassin’s Creed, The Last of Us director Neil Druckmann is adapting the highly-lauded video game into a screenplay for Sony (which also has Uncharted scheduled for 2016), and Moon director Duncan Jones is bring the world of Warcraft to the big screen in an orcs vs. humans tale that’s titled (you guessed it) Warcraft.
We were lucky enough to see the trailer for Warcraft at San Diego Comic Con last summer, and it made two things clear. First, that the movie will parallel the stories of the two tribes as they go to war, with neither the orcs or the humans painted as outright heroes or villains. Second, that it’s extremely CGI-heavy, so much so that it’s spending about two years in post-production. The main cast is a mix of sort-of-well-knowns and mostly-unknowns, including Dominic Cooper, Travis Fimmel, Toby Kebbell and Rob Kazinsky.
Warcraft has a built-in audience of fans who love the games, but that audience won’t be enough by itself to generate the kind of box office numbers that a film of this scale (and budget) needs. Over the next year, Legendary Pictures will face the challenge of trying to market the film to an audience who either aren’t familiar with the source material or – even worse – have heard of World of Warcraft and have a low opinion of it. Jones recently took to Twitter to engage fans over the problem of how to get people to see his movie.
“So let’s chat. I’ve got a movie coming out next year; Warcraft. It’s based on a computer game of the same name but it’s pretty unique. We’re trying to work out how best to let people who don’t play the game know that this is a film they’ll genuinely want to see. You know as well as I do, game to film adaptations have a checkered past, but I’m proud of this beast. It’s unique. It’s something special.”
During the brainstorming session, Jones was asked about how much of the screen time uses CGI and described Warcraft as being “somewhere between Planet of the Apes, Fellowship of the Ring and Avatar.” He also said that his concern about being able to sell Warcraft to a wider audience has nothing to do with the quality of the film, but that simply making a great movie isn’t enough when marketing has to begin so far ahead of release.
Following the suggestion that Legendary release two trailers, with one showing the story from the perspective of the orcs and the other showing it from the view of the human camp, Jones replied, “I love that idea. Have pitched it myself.” So that may be something to look forward to once the trailers start showing up.
As far as keeping a balance between pleasing fans and being welcoming to newcomers goes, Jones said that the intention is to “cater to the gamers as a special group deserving of their own focus,” but also “find the best way to let the broader audience know [it’s] a film for them too.” Easier said than done, but not impossible to accomplish.
Warcraft opens in U.S. theaters on March 11th, 2016.