‘World of Warcraft’ Movie Snags Duncan Jones, Director Of ‘Moon’ And ‘Source Code’

Film adaptions offer AAA game companies future merchandising possibilities for popular franchises

 @YannickLeJacq
on January 31 2013 2:57 PM

The long-stalled film adaption of Activision Blizzard’s (NASDAQ:ATVI) video game “World of Warcraft” finally has a new director.

Following the ouster of “Evil Dead” and “Spider-Man” director Sam Raimi, Legendary Pictures has now snagged Duncan Jones, the director of the science fiction films “Moon” and “Source Code,” according to a Hollywood Reporter story Thursday. The script, meanwhile, was written by Charles Leavitt, who previously wrote the screenplays for “The Express,” “Blood Diamond” and “K-PAX.”

Jones is apparently working on a $100 million budget and will actually be collaborating with some high-profile Blizzard insiders to carry the company’s massive multiplayer online, or MMO, video game to the big screen. The Hollywood Reporter named Chris Metzen, a longtime Blizzard game designer and occasional voiceover actor for the company’s titles who served as the creative director for 2002’s “Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos” and contributed writing and narrative design to Blizzard’s other franchises including “Starcraft” and “Diablo.”

While Raimi was originally slated to direct the film, he backed out in order to direct the upcoming “Oz the Great and Powerful,” saying at a press conference at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con convention that Legendary Pictures “had to start making it” and couldn’t wait for him any longer.

Film adaptions of video games are almost universally atrocious, offending the average moviegoer and veteran gamer alike for their imperfect union of two different mediums. But Jones seemed to accept the challenge happily, cheering his new role Wednesday night on Twitter.

“So the gauntlet was thrown down ages ago: Can you make a proper MOVIE of a video game,” Jones wrote. “Ive always said its possible. Got to DO it now!”

A film adaptation of one of the most popular video game franchises in history has been a long time coming. Though “World of Warcraft” does not command the billion-strong user base of “Angry Birds” (which has its own film adaption coming as well) nor does it even have as many monthly subscribers as it did when it broke 12 million in October 2010, the "WoW" brand is essentially synonymous with the success of the current blockbuster AAA video game industry. Activision has even made subtle moves in the development and monetization of its flagship “Call of Duty” franchise to introduce subscription-based and community-driven content similar to “World of Warcraft,” such as its popular “Call of Duty: Elite” service.

A “Call of Duty” movie may be further down the road. But if Activision’s cinematic venture proves successful, it could only mean more merchandising opportunities for AAA game franchises beyond the games themselves in the future.

The “World of Warcraft” movie is expected to being production later in 2013 and hit theaters in 2015.

Activision shares jumped one and one-quarter percent Thursday, reaching $11.48 in early morning trading. 

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