Geekery: A New D&D Movie is in the Works

Close your eyes and imagine what the writer of a D&D might look like…

… like this, apparently:

Joe Manganiello – known for his roles in True Blood and Magic Mike – has co-written a Dungeons and Dragons script. He even consulted with Wizards of the Coast to ensure he represents the classic RPG’s universe in just the right way. He talked a little bit about it in a recent interview with MTV:

“Obviously, there’s a spectacle. There’s dragons breathing fire and lightning. But what makes a great superhero or fantasy movie is the human aspect. It’s got to be about something. We root for those characters in Game of Thrones. Fellowship of the Ring was about friendship, this undying love for your friends. That’s something everyone can identify with. When a movie is about something human and real emotionally people are going to want to see. Then you get some dragons breathing fire, and hey, I’m in.”

Sounds like he’s approaching it in a serious manner and wants to make something that’s not a (total) dumpster fire. At the moment it’s just a draft, but who knows… this could happen.

But, most importantly, will it have dance scenes?


Are you be up for a new D&D movie?

  • af

    Regardless of that terrible D&D movie starring Jeremy Iron’s and the girl from American Beauty, I think a D&D movie is generally a bad idea *unless* it picks one of the scenarios which make D&D unique. Bad: something that is pastiche of tolkienesque fantasy ideas like Orcs, Dwarves, Elves, adventurers meeting in an Inn, exploring an ancient dungeon, rescuing a princess or killing an evil warlock — that all makes sense for an RPG session, but not for a movie. Good: an adventure truly unique to D&D, like a bizarre story set in the planes of Planescape and dealing with belief in various bizarre gods.

    But I won’t hold my breath. I know it’s going to be like first (bad) idea, because Hollywood.

    • Dan

      That’s a pretty dim view of what a DnD movie could be. It could be a self-aware adventure/comedy in the vein of the Brady Bunch or 21 Jump Street. It could be an adventure/horror. Fantasy political thriller. A western epic by way of Kurosawa. A heist movie. You could basically make *anything* and do it well.

      The problem is getting strong creatives with a unified, tightly focused vision. DnD is so wide open it’s a pretty major hurdle.

      • af

        I wouldn’t say it’s such a dim view. I absolutely want a pastiche in my own games 🙂 I just don’t think they’d work as movies.

        It’s true you *could* make almost anything out of D&D, but seriously, how are you going to present it to moviegoers: as something out of the ordinary (again, say a bizarre Planescape adventure, or something atypical like Dark Sun) or as Elves and Dwarves and Orcs (though possibly not Halflings, for obvious copyright-related reasons)? Want to bet? 🙂

        • Dan

          How are you going to? That’s easy. Thank James Gunn, Phil Lord+Chris Miller, and Ryan Reynolds for that. People are willing to buy in on weird, offbeat movies nowadays if you are willing to sell them on it, your key creatives are in it to win it and your producers/distributors/studio are willing to back it all up.

          hat final one’s the main problem though and with DnD and comparable licenses *cough-Dungeon-Siege-cough* spotty film history there’s not likely going to be a whole lot of faith on the production side going in. That’s why articles and things like “oh hey Joe Manganiello is writing this. He’s Alcide the Werewolf and Deathstroke and in the Rampage movie he must know geeky stuff” are important. The buzz and reactions for stuff like that are early indicators for how much money and autonomy a movie can be lent.

          Movie making is a reaaaaally strange business, but with this newfangled internet box it’s entirely possible to try and influence the greenlighting process.

  • JL

    Unless Jeremy Irons is hiding somewhere in those abs, you can’t improve on the original. It was perfect.

    • af

      I remember going to the cinema to see D&D. About 10 minutes in, everyone in the audience had already realized the movie was terrible. There was a sort of joyful resignation when we all realized it was going to be an unbearable watch unless we determined to have fun anyway. About that moment, something went wrong with the projector and the movie got nudged so that it was about 1/4th out of the screen, and instead of complaining everyone was cheering and hooting as if this was no big deal — and it actually wasn’t! Nothing could ruin the movie because it was impossible for it to get any worse. It was un-ruinable. Pure, unredeemable, unadulterated cr…p.

  • EnTyme

    Dear Hollywood,
    Start by writing a good script with well-developed characters. In fact, apply this concept to every movie idea you have. Now how difficult was that?

    • Dan

      Movies require a lot more than strong scripts. They are a collaborative art form and weakness or lack of cohesive artistic vision from any number of key staff can force them to fall apart at any stage of the production. There’s a famous saying about every movie being made at least three times and it’s 100% true.

      Don’t believe me? Look up Jodorowsky’s infamous Dune script. By that logic that movie would’ve been made and would’ve been the most significant piece of art made in the past fifty years.

      • EnTyme

        I never said that all it needed was a good script, but it’s stupid how Hollywood constantly sees bad movies fail and thing “Hmm. People must not like movies based on video games/D&D movies/movies based on sci-fi novels/etc.” People like good movies. We don’t care where you got the source material. Start with a solid script and good characters and you’re already miles ahead.

        • Dan

          It’s not a matter of scripts. Most scripts start much better than you think.

          I also wouldn’t say “people don’t like …movies” or the perception thereof is the case at all. Sci-fi and Fantasy absolutely wreck face at the box office. go look at the numbers in the past few months if you want those genres you describe are largely giant money machines. Those are prime blockbuster fodder.

          Well, except for games. Games are different. Video game movies still have a significant stigma to a point. You’ll notice, though, they do still keep making them which is not normally how Hollywood operates. Normally if a “new thing” fails spectacularly a few times you see a sharp dropoff in productions, conversely a few home runs means there’s a rush to make more. That’s why after a respectable showing of Sausage Party and a *landslide* performance for Deadpool get ready for a ton of R rated comicbook and animated features. But games, we still keep getting game movies despite all the failures for some weird reason. That goes back to how movies get made on the production side.

          Hollywood runs on numbers. You look at costs and forecasted performance and several market factors and turn everything into a little equation and try to balance it all out. Men get cast more often, everybody’s white, and trailers give away the plot because what data they have suggests that’s the optimal balance.

          Games though. Games kind of break that. The thing about games is that they make more money than movies nowadays, and consistently, by any measure, do very well in terms of a lot of desirable metrics. With such a huge, dedicated following (people who spend hundreds of dollars on books or consoles seems looney compared to 10-15 bucks for a movie) it should be impossible to fail if a game tie-in movie is created at least semi-competently. Plug them into the equation and it should be pure profit so despite all historical evidence they just keep trying. Game movies look like the golden goose on paper.

          Turns out, though, game properties don’t sit will with standard movie conventions and the more you force conformity and design by committee on them the worse they do. Even better the more leery people are of game movies the more protections a studio will take which just exacerbates this. That’s why you get those crappy movies. It’s not poor writers it’s the cumulative effect of a system designed to reduce risk through artistic conformity.

          Luckily Warcraft, if I recall, went gangbusters in China and there’s been no catastrophic failures in recent memory so hopefully we’ll see a bit more faith from studios letting key creatives do what they need to do to make good movies.

          • EnTyme

            Look, Dan, you’re so focused on one or two phrases I use to realize I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you. Let me try an analogy:

            If you set out to build a house, it doesn’t matter if you’re building a 3 bedroom townhouse or a four bedroom brownstone. If you build it on quicksand and use balsa wood, it’s not going to last.

            I’m trying to say that genre and source material is incidental. A good movie is a good movie and starts with a good foundation regardless of what kind of movie you are trying to make.

  • Kritarion

    Looks like someone rolled a natural 20 on his Charisma check.

  • Sean Schoonmaker

    Brilliant! That’s a man who knows “campy.”

  • Ravingbantha

    Dragonlance Chronicles… Just Say’n

  • Carlill

    Will this one star the other Jimmy from the 90’s Dean Cain Superman?

  • BloodAngel

    It’s hard to take D&D as seriously as LOTOR but with all the silly shenanigans that happen in the D&D multiverse, I could see them making one in the tone of Pirates of the Carribean and making it work.

    • deris87

      Lord Of The O-Rings?

      • Sporkel

        Ooohh, kinkeeeeeyy!

  • MechBattler

    Another attempt to take a game with years of narrative fiction and compress it into a two hour format?

  • Evil Otto
  • euansmith

    I enjoy the “Mythica” movies (the Fighter always seems to get taken out first in every fight), and I rather enjoyed the D&D movie about the party of bad guys who end up saving the world.

  • Bellumvinco

    Hopefully they get people that act instead of role-play. The acting in D&D movies always seems to end up campy and over dramatic. I hope for believable people, not cartoon-ish. Hell, Game of Thrones is D&D minus dungeon crawls, and, and, and…

    • af

      …and an actual plot, and interesting politics and characters, and based on The War of the Roses instead of D&D, and explicitly subverting the common tropes of epic fantasy, so nothing at all like D&D 🙂

      To be fair, there *are* other settings for D&D, but most people don’t know about them. Certainly not moviegoers.