World of Warcraft, the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) that created a cult following, is due to hit the big screen in 2016. At least a couple of the key figures connected with the movie – which is titled Warcraft – are, themselves, fans and players of the online fantasy adventure game that can boast more than seven and a half million subscribers, worldwide. Speaking Friday at BlizzCon, hosted by the Anaheim Convention Center, the new movie’s director, Duncan Jones, spoke about his vision for the project. “As in the game, where you can choose what side to be on, I thought it was really important that we made a film which allowed you to be on either side of the conflict and follow heroes on both sides,” he said. According to Duncan, this motion picture adaptation of one of the most popular online games of all time will be “Avatar and Lord of the Rings at the same time.”
In keeping with Jones’ idea, fans have the chance to pick a side in the movie, even before its release: The two opposing forces in Warcraft are the Alliance and the Horde. Fans can choose which side they are on by registering at the relevant site, allowing them to receive exclusive content, such as updates, newsletters and the chance to enter competitions.
Duncan is, himself, a World of Warcraft player, as is Rob Kazinsky, an English actor who has played numerous television roles, appeared in the movie Pacific Rim and was slated for a part in the second Hobbit movie, before withdrawing for personal reasons. The cast will also include Ben Foster, Toby Kebbell, Clancy Brown, Paula Patton and Daniel Wu.
Few details emerged about the plot of Warcraft, but Jones, whose previous credits include the films Moon and Source Code, revealed that the story will be set in the time when men first came into conflict with the orcs in the fantasy world of Azeroth – which was the central theme of early versions of the game. Realizing how important it would be for the movie to accurately reflect the World of Warcraft game, Jones is working closely with Chris Metzen, Blizzard Entertainment Senior VP, who is also a co-writer of the Warcraft movie. Reflecting that desire for Warcraft to faithfully represent the fantasy world, characters and adventures of the game, Kazinsky says, bluntly, “We wanted it to be right. It would absolutely murder me if this thing sucked.”
World of Warcraft was released in 2004, although – by then – the Warcraft game franchise was already 10 years old. Playing the game requires a subscription and World of Warcraft, to date, has grossed more than any other MMORPG. Unlike many online multiplayer games, where there are specific missions to complete, World of Warcraft allows players to explore their location at will and to complete quests as and when they choose.
Warcraft, it seems, will be heavy on motion-capture and special effects, created by leading special-effects studio Industrial Light and Magic. Warcraft was filmed between January and May of this year and is scheduled for release in March, 2016. Bringing World of Warcraft to the big screen has, apparently, been a challenge and millions of fans will be eager to cast a critical eye over previews and other teasers, as and when they are released.
Graham J Noble