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‘Honor Among Thieves’: The D&D Movie That Finally Gets It Right

6 Minute Read
Jul 20 2023

D&D: Honor Among Thieves was the first time Hollywood got the game right. But what made this adventure different?

For years Hollywood tried to make a D&D movie that would appeal to dice rollers and not alike. And they finally got it right with D&D: Honor Among Thieves. But what made this one different?


On-Screen D&D Hasn’t Always Been Good

In 2023 Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves came out. And we were really pleased to see that it was (mostly) a pretty enjoyable film. But this isn’t the first time we’ve watched Hollywood’s take on D&D on the big screen. December 2000 was a different time. And while I don’t remember a darn thing about that Dungeons & Dragons, I do remember leaving the mall with my friends feeling like we had just wasted our money and two hours of our weekend.

This time was different though.


via Paramount Pictures

A party including Chris Pine as Edgin, Michelle Rodriguez as Holga, Justice Smith and Simon, Sophia Lillis, and Doric, as they attempt to get back Edgin’s daughter (Chloe Coleman) and stop Hugh Grant’s Forge and Daisy Head’s Sofina from unleashing unspeakable horrors on the world. They created a film that felt just like a big adventure. But more importantly, they manage to capture that chaotic weirdness every game of D&D is known for.

“What’s trying to kill us this time?”

– Holga

And that might be the movie’s biggest triumph and the reason for its relative success. It felt like Dungeons and Dragons.


The Story of Production

Way back in May of 2013, Warner Bros. Pictures announced that they would be taking on a Dungeons & Dragons movie. Writers and producers were all picked out and signed on. But almost immediately, Hasbro filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros., claiming that they were already working on a D&D movie with Universal Pictures. Once again, a team had already begun being assembled.

Two years later the two groups settled, and it seemed that Hasbro would be making their D&D movie with Warner Bros. Over the next to years after that, the movie would slowly work on collecting various members of the pre-production team. At one point actor and nerd-culture powerhouse Joe Manganiello was revealed to have written an entire script and from there, development teams were being sorted out.

But despite the good progression and a scheduled release date of July 23rd, 2021, the movie was shifted to Hasbro and Paramount Pictures in December 2017. And now, instead of Manganiello’s potential script, the studios were working with Michael Gilio.

honor among thieves
via Paramount

As it turned out though, that would be an early version of the script the studios got excited about. Shortly after, Jonathan Goldstein and John Frances Daley were off to take this initial script and re-write a few drafts.

Their goal was to write something that, in Goldstein’s words, “doesn’t take itself with great seriousness, but it’s never a spoof. It honors the world of D&D and celebrates it but, hopefully, it gives the audience an engaging and fun ride.”


Once the script was completed and suitably not-serious-but-not-spoofy, casting was hammered out and the crew was off to Iceland to begin filming in April 2021. And to get ready for the feel of Dungeons and Dragons, the actors were asked to play a few hours’ worth of D&D. They played as their own movie characters. This gave the actors a chance to get more familiar with the game and how you interact with people… As well as a few fun nods to incorporate into the film.


Was Honor Among Thieves a Success?

Well, that’s a complex question, really. It didn’t do badly, grossing $93.3 million in North America and $208.2 million worldwide. And people seemed to like the movie with generally favorable reviews, critical and fan alike. But unfortunately with a $151 million budget, the movie didn’t turn a huge profit.

From the studio and distributor’s point of view, this film was a box office failure or even a flop. And talk quickly turned from the multi-pronged approach to continuing these stories to talk of a sequel quietly coming to an end.


Will There Be a D&D 2?

Sadly, probably not. Despite a good script, a great cast, and a true understanding of what Dungeons and Dragons is supposed to be, it doesn’t look like Honor Among Thieves did well enough financially to justify a sequel film. And this is likely due to weak marketing. It can be hard to convince people who aren’t already into D&D to give something the telltale ampersand symbol of their time.

And while popular gaming groups like Critical Role have been bringing more and more popularity to the tabletop RPGs, it’s still way too easy to write off as ‘nerd stuff’. So despite being relatable and approachable to many, relatively few got their behinds in theater seats.

via Paramount

But I Want More Anyway!

I get it, me too. And if you’re a reader, there is more Honor Among Thieves content for you. I also wouldn’t be surprised if this is one of those times that a live-action follow-up isn’t possible, but a comic book sequel is. Y’know, like what Firefly did.

But if none of that appeals to you, you may just have to re-watch the movie again. Luckily, it’s been on D&D for a little while now and is available on a handful of streaming services. You can watch it on YouTube TV, Roku, and Amazon Prime with a subscription.

Or, and this is my favorite option, you can embrace the spirit of it and play your own silly-but-not-spoofy game of D&D.

honor among thieves poster

The Owlbear Controversy

In Honor Among Thieves, Tiefling druid, Doric transforms into an Owlbear. She also transforms into something like twenty animals over the course of ten minutes. But the Owlbear thing has been especially controversial. Why? Well, as the rules are written a Druid’s wild shape ability allows them to change into beast-type creatures. Meanwhile, the Owlbear is considered a monstrosity. Transformations are also somewhat limited in number.

owlbear honor among thieves

So why was this allowed in a movie that otherwise seemed to do its research? Honestly, it’s pretty simple. House rules exist and at the table, the rule of cool can reign supreme. In other words, if you pitch an outlandish idea to a DM and they say, “I’ll allow it,” it’s allowed. The rule books are there as a guide. But the DM is the steward of the world and their game. In the end, they may decide that the fun factor at the table is more important than the specific rules. In this case, the director made that call.

How many times have you seen Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves? Did you think it was accurate to your D&D experience? Would you watch more if more was ever made? Let us know in the comments!

Happy adventuring!



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