Photo: Blizzard Entertainment
Duncan Jones is becoming quite the Hollywood player ... or is that Hollywood multiplayer?
The "Source Code" director is gearing up for his first big studio tentpole project as he's signed on to direct "Warcraft," the long in-development screen adaptation of the immensely popular video game series.
"Immense" is the key word when it comes to Blizzard Entertainment's "Warcraft" franchise, as its sprawling, multi-layered universe weaves elements of fantasy, science fiction, action adventure and horror as players interact with dragons, orcs, zombies, space aliens, werewolves and even the occasional lusty maid. The series consists of four core games; the first three -- "Warcraft: Orcs & Humans" (1994), "Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness" (1995) and "Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos" (2002) -- are real-time strategy games, whereas the fourth (and best-selling) installment, "World of Warcraft" (2004), is a massively multi-player online role playing game (MMORPG) and considered to be one of the best video games of all time.
A "Warcraft" movie has been a long time coming. Legendary Pictures acquired the film rights to the series back in May 2006, with the screen adaptation first announced at BlizzCon 2007 with a projected 2009 release. Sam Raimi was once attached to the project, with many speculating that it would be his next film after he stepped away from the "Spider-Man" franchise, and -- rather inevitably -- the infamous Uwe Boll ("BloodRayne," "House of the Dead" and many other wretched video game movies) at one point expressed interest in directing the film, though Blizzard went on record to say to him, "We will not sell the movie rights, not to you ... not ever to you" (Whoa! Good.).
It now seems full speed ahead for "Warcraft" with Duncan Jones in the director's chair. The son of David Bowie made his feature film debut with "Moon" (2009), an impressive low-budget sci-fi drama starring Sam Rockwell that made its $1 million budget look like at least $50 million. Jones' sophomore effort was "Source Code" (2011), a "Twilight Zone"-ish sci-fi thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal that cost about $35 million. Jones is really in the big leagues with "Warcraft," which is expected to have a budget north of $100 million (way north, if you ask us -- it'll need at least $200 million just to get through the first level).
The script by Charles Leavitt is being kept under wraps, though back at BlizzCon '07 it was announced that the storyline would take place within the "World of Warcraft" narrative. The project has gone through a few writers since then, but it's a safe bet that the movie will most closely resemble the most popular game in the series, no?
"Warcraft" will commence with production in the fall with a projected 2015 release date.