A major development is taking place on the long-in-the-works feature film adaptation of the popular video game World of Warcraft. The project has been in the works for a number of years, with Sam Raimi attached to direct for quite some time. Raimi finally dropped off last summer so that he could focus full-time on Oz the Great and Powerful, and Legendary Pictures subsequently brought on screenwriter Charles Leavitt (Blood Diamond) to rewrite the screenplay, which was initially penned by Robert Rodat (Saving Private Ryan). Now the studio is getting serious about making the movie happen, as Moon and Source Code director Duncan Jones has been tapped to take the helm for a planned fall 2013 production start. Hit the jump for more.
[Update: The Tracking Board [via Bleeding Cool] hears that Warner Bros. wants Johnny Depp to star. Tracking boards are not the most reliable source, so treat this as a rumor for now as you note that Depp’s name is being mentioned in certain circles that chase such insider info. More official casting reports should arrive soon.]
Per Heat Vision, Jones is signing on to bring one of the most popular video games of all time to the big screen. This is good news for a number of reasons. Firstly, if you follow Jones on Twitter you know that he is very much a gamer. This means we’ll have someone who understands the gaming world crafting the feature film iteration of World of Warcraft. Secondly, and most importantly, Jones is one hell of a filmmaker. Moon is an enthralling piece of sci-fi, and Source Code is an engaging and smart thriller. He’s got an incredibly inventive eye and I’m very excited to see how he handles large-scale fantasy.
In addition to directing, Jones wrote both of his previous projects, so one assumes he’ll at least have a hand in the screenplay for World of Warcraft. He won’t have a ton of time to prep, though, because apparently producers Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni are eyeing a fall 2013 start date in order to make a hoped-for 2015 release date. Yes, if all goes according to plan World of Warcraft may join the bounty of other ginormous movies (The Avengers 2, Ant-Man, Pirates 5, maybe Star Wars 7 and Justice League) that are scheduled to be released 2015.
The script is being kept under wraps, and with the endless opportunites offered in the video game, we really have no idea what World of Warcraft will be about. We do know that this will have a budget north of $100, which marks a major step up for Jones whose previous films cost $1 million and $35 million, respectively. He was also attached to direct a biopic of James Bond creator Ian Fleming, but it appears that this tentpole will be taking priority (obviously). Jones’ producing partner Stuart Fenegan will executive produce through their Liberty Films banner, and Charles Roven and Alex Gartner will also produce the film. Getting Jones onboard is a great start, so here’s hoping World of Warcraft will be worth the long wait.
Update: Jones has taken to Twitter with a rather appropriate response to the news, seeing how there exists not one genuinely good game-to-film adaptation:
So the gauntlet was thrown down ages ago: Can you make a proper MOVIE of a video game.Ive always said its possible.Got to DO it now!
— Duncan Jones (@ManMadeMoon) January 31, 2013