Not really news in the world of books, but there is plenty of crossover for me and possibly many other fans. D&D pulled me into the world of fantasy and reading as a kid and will always have a special place in my heart. Studios are looking to bring the franchise to the big screen again, but will it fare better than last time?
If you don't remember the first time Dungeons & Dragons came to theaters, count yourself lucky. When many of us were waiting for Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies in 2000, New Line rushed out D&D to financial and critical failure. I've been told a couple straight to video releases followed, but since I try to block this movie from my mind as much as possible, I refuse to investigate.
Fast forward thirteen years and it looks like Warner Brothers is ready to take another crack at the franchise. With Harry Potter in the past, they are looking for another fantasy franchise, and D&D offers good opportunity. Can they make the most of it?
David Leslie Johnson, the writer behind Wrath of the Titans and Red Riding Hood, is writing the script based on Chainmail, an earlier script of his that was itself based on a different fantasy game and being reworked for D&D. One of the producers is Courtney Solomon, who directed the D&D film in 2000. Neither of these folks give me much confidence in the project, but it will supposedly be a 'big priority' for the studio.
Hasbro however has stepped forward claiming that they own the intellectual property rights to Dungeons & Dragons after purchasing Wizards of the Coast (the publisher of the game) in 1998. They have started a project with Universal Studios to be directed by Chris Morgan, the writer behind The Fast and the Furious and 47 Ronin. They apparently have done this dance before however, in 2000, when Courtney Solomon was found to hold the underlying rights for the movie.
What does this mean for the movie? Chances are the same results will come out of a legal battle, but that doesn't mean it won't still happen and could cause a delay in this 'high priority' project for WB.
What does this mean for fans? Granted, this is just one man's opinion, but nobody from either side of this fight gives me much confidence in the project. Dungeons & Dragons has unlimited potential for building a successful movie franchise, but due to the fact that it's not known for one major story like other successful fantasy franchises, it also has unlimited potential for being completely mishandled. Need I mention the movie in 2000 again?
Dungeons & Dragons is certainly a name with a built-in fanbase, but so are many of the novels set in the various gameworlds. The R.A. Salvatore novels based on the Drizzt Do'Urden character have a big following, Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman would fit a typical fantasy story and serve as a good introduction, but most of all they have stories that have already been shaped and tested. When every name mentioned so far working on this project is known for putting out forgettable popcorn movies, not epic fantasy stories, it makes it hard to get ones hopes up.
Unfortunate for a game with such a special place in the hearts of many fantasy fans.