At BlizzCon today, representatives from Blizzard and Legendary Pictures hosted a panel on the upcoming WarCraft film adaptation, giving attendees an update on the film's progress and addressing fan concerns with a follow-up Q&A session. On hand were Paul Sams and Chris Metzen Blizzard Entertainment and, from Legendary Pictures, CEO Thomas Tull and Chief Creative Officer Jon Jashni. In addition to confirming that the Warcraft movie will be a live action film, with a yet to be determined level of computer generated environments and effects, Jashni told the crowd they're still working toward a 2009 release date.
Sams, Metzen and Jashni made it a regular point to express their wishes to "not... create another video game movie" but to "create an epic." And while some fans may have taken pause at Jashni's reasoning that "we can't just make a movie for the 9 million World of Warcraft subscribers", it was clear that all four were passionate about bringing the mythology of Warcraft to the big screen as faithfully as possible.
The panel invoked the name of Legendary Pictures' recent hits Batman Begins and 300 as indicative of the quality of the $US100 million-plus feature film. They also dropped names like Braveheart and the Lord of the Rings trilogy when discussing their vision for the Warcraft movie's action scenes.
For how intense those scenes will be, and what rating they're shooting for, Metzen said "It's hard for us to predict what happens. You want to not compromise and you want to have the intensity." Addressing concerns over a Nerfed fantasy war movie, he explained, "The story and the director's vision will ultimately decide that. We're definitely not going to make a G or a PG version of this. It's not PillowfightCraft."
Warcraft is still in the scripting process, but Metzen reported that they have something that they're happy with. The plot was kept under wraps but Metzen told the crowd it would take place about a year before the events of World of Warcraft.
The storyline is "principally told from the Alliance perspective." After revealing that detail, and waiting for the Horde aligned players to finish their booing, Metzen explained "While my heart lies with the Horde and Thrall's an interesting character, from a movie making standpoint, a blockbuster movie its a little rough to try and tell it from the perspective of this green looking dude."
"What about Shrek?!" a Blizzconner yelled. A busted Metzen quipped "Shrek's a good example. For a kids comedy."
According to Jashni, no director has been attached. "We are starting those conversations. We're going to be looking for someone of [300 director Zak Snyder or Batman Begins director Chris Nolan's]calibre," said Metzen. They snickered at a crowd member's suggestion for Uwe Boll, commenting only on the infamous director's recent boxing match.
With no director comes no casting news. That process hasn't been started yet, but when asked about whether they'd be looking for "big name Hollywood actors" or "fresher faces", Jashni played coy, only saying that "because there's a lot of interest in Warcraft, we've gotten a lot of interesting phone calls."
Following another fan suggestion, Metzen says they haven't yet contacted Chuck Norris for a role or cameo.
Jashni then recounted a story that involved Superman Returns star Brandon Routh accosting him upon hearing of his involvement with Blizzard, with Routh asking "Do you know the Warcraft guys?! Can you get me a tour of [their office] ?"
By the end of the panel, we hadn't learned much in the way of concrete details, as much of the film is simply too early in production to talk about. As a sort of apology for being so vague, panel speakers showed one of the first pieces of concept artwork for the film.
Anyone recognise it?