Blizzard Ent.’s hugely successful Warcraft franchise is the latest video game property to be groomed for the big screen. Legendary Pictures has acquired movie rights for the best-selling online fantasy series, and both companies are focused on adapting the interactive experience for moviegoers. A targeted release date and details on director and cast signings will be revealed in the coming months.
“From our first Warcraft game to our latest novels, our intention has always been to develop a rich fantasy universe that could support stories and products in many forms,” states Chris Metzen, VP of creative development Blizzard. “In addition to being a truly rewarding experience for us, the creation of this motion picture also feels like a natural next step for the Warcraft universe.”
Blizzard’s chief operating officer, Paul Sams, adds, ‘We searched for a very long time to find the right studio for developing a movie based on one of our game universes. Many companies approached us in the past, but it wasn’t until we met with Legendary Pictures that we felt we’d found the perfect partner.’
The first Warcraft title debuted in 1994. Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness came out the following year to garner critical acclaim and multiple Game of the Year awards, paving the way for Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos to break sales records when it launched in 2002. The latest entry, World of Warcraft, boasts more than 6 million paying customers, making it one of the world’s most popular online games.
“It’s not always the case that interactive game properties lend themselves to proper adaptation to film,” says Legendary Pictures chief creative officer Jon Jashni. “We are intending to approach this as we would the adaptation of a best-selling novel: respect the essence of all that it is but also build upon that fertile base while translating it into a new medium.”
Legendary Pictures formed a partnership with Warner Bros. Pictures in 2005 to co-produce and co-finance at least 25 pictures over an initial 5-year period. Operating from the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, Calif., Legendary first produced director Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins and will follow up that flagship project with Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns, M. Night Shymalan’s Lady in the Water and Roland Emmerich’s 10,000 B.C.
In addition to the Warcraft series, Blizzard Ent. creates the popular StarCraft and Diablo games. The company is a division of Vivendi Games and hosts a free Internet gaming service, Battle.net, that serves millions of active users. More information is available at www.blizzard.com.