Considering it’s been around since 1974, it’s strange that Dungeons & Dragons has never been successfully adapted to either film or television. There was a feature film in 2000, but it died a quick, painful death. I vaguely remember the cartoon that ran for a couple years in the 80s, but the game’s enormous success with players all over the world has never translated to a non-game format. But with studios scrambling to get the next big franchise up and running, Warner Bros. is preparing to give D&D another try. Things are still in the very early stages, but as a recent interview of producer Roy Lee by Collider shows, the studio has very high hopes.
“This new Dungeons & Dragons will be a Guardians of the Galaxy-tone movie in a Tolkien-like universe. Because when you think of all the Hobbit movies and The Lord of the Rings, they have an earnestness to them, and to see something fun, a Raiders romp inside that world, I feel is something the audience has not seen before.”
Ah yes, the old “Name other popular movies this one might be like” trick. Guardians of the Galaxy! Lord of the Rings! Raiders of the Lost Ark! People liked those movies! That means they’ll like this one probably! What could possibly go wrong? Plenty, actually, but that’s not slowing down Lee’s enthusiasm.
“I think it will really be moving forward quickly, and I don’t anticipate it not getting greenlit this year, mostly because Warner Bros. has DC now, and LEGO, and the Harry Potter universe that’s being cultivated as their franchises. I believe they see Dungeons & Dragons as something that could be cultivated as a multi-universe movie where there will be spinoffs from the first movie being in Forgotten Realms and subsequent movies being in different worlds.”
So yeah, clearly WB wants this to kickstart another huge, billion-dollar franchise. They basically want this to do for D&D what Batman v Superman will (hopefully) do for DC’s Cinematic Universe. While there’s obviously a built-in fanbase, that doesn’t necessarily translate to automatic success. One of the biggest gripes you always hear about a failed video game or comic book film adaptation is that it failed to capture the spirit of its source material. You have to wonder how the filmmakers will succeed in regards to a property that is so interactive and player-centric as Dungeons & Dragons. The game’s appeal has always stemmed from the players’ ability to choose their own adventure, so to speak. This element will obviously be absent in the feature film, so this runs the risk of looking like a weak Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones imitation. It will take a lot to distinguish D&D from the rest of the crowd.
Granted, if you’re in charge of adapting something like D&D for film, you could do a lot worse than to follow the blueprint of Guardians of the Galaxy and/or Lord of the Rings (maybe not so much the Hobbit movies). The character work of Guardians mixed with the epic, adventurous scope of Rings could definitely suit a Dungeons & Dragons film nicely. Lee confirmed that this will be an ensemble movie that takes place entirely in the realm of D&D, so hypothetically this could all come together quite nicely. The trick of course will be to copy these other successful franchises without doing so in a way that leaves audiences saying “They’re ripping off Guardians of the Galaxy!”, because then it will just come off as a lazy cash grab instead of the beginnings of a worthwhile movie franchise.
Not saying it’s impossible, just saying…good luck with that.
Make sure to keep checking back for updates – right here on GeekNation.
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