Will the World of Warcraft movie lead the way for more movies to be based on games?

With the long-awaited film Warcraft slated for release in 2016, the future is looking bright for movies inspired by video games.

Warcraft, an epic fantasy film based on the hugely popular World of Warcraft video game, will premiere in movie theaters across the US on March 11, 2016. The Legendary / Universal Pictures production is directed by Duncan Jones, based on a screenplay that he co-wrote with Charles Leavitt, who first joined the project in 2013 after Sam Raimi pulled out. British-born Jones is best known for previous big screen successes Moon and Source Code, while seasoned scriptwriter Leavitt is also no stranger to Hollywood.

Prognosis is good

With a cast that includes Vikings heart-throb Travis Fimmel and action babe Paula Patton, together with a complex plot that concentrates on the World of Warcraft’s initial encounters between the humans and the Orcs, all the signs are there that this film will achieve a similar success to 2014’s Need for Speed, another game converted into a film that – despite fairly negative reviews – went on to earn $203.3 million in box office revenue worldwide.

Whichever side you root for in World of Warcraft, sources close to the film suggest you won’t be disappointed. The film is told from the perspectives of both the Alliance and the Horde, taking place in a variety of the locations familiar to regular players of the video game. Despite the snipes that this all sounds a little too close to the plot of Lord of the Rings, we’re all hoping that the experienced directing team – with a budget in excess of $100 million – will know the difference between inspiration and imitation.

Blizzard involved in film’s development

The film was announced in 2006, in a joint press release between Legendary Pictures, who are making the film, and Blizzard Entertainment, the video gaming company responsible for World of Warcraft. From the very start, Blizzard Entertainment have been heavily involved in the film’s development, having their say in decisions regarding direction, plot, and cast, and ensuring that dedicated fans of the game will not be disappointed with the outcome.

The rise of Blizzard – and its CEO

Blizzard Entertainment was started by three graduates from UCLA in 1991, first under the name Silicon & Synapse, and later Chaos Studios, becoming Blizzard in 1994. Warcraft II: The Tides of Darkness – released in 1995 – would be the company’s first megahit, catapulting them into the league of leading PC developers and placing them firmly in the corporate major league. Since those early days of 90s blood and gore, the company has also been behind the successful StarCraft and Diablo series, another RPG video game.

Blizzard Entertainment became part of Activision in 2008, and independent company Activision Blizzard was announced in 2013 – not without controversy from followers unhappy about the name change. Its colorful CEO, Bobby Kotick, is a similar veteran to the world of gaming, starting with creating software for the Apple II. Rumor has it that it was Steve Jobs who urged him to drop out of college to pursue his business interests in the burgeoning software business – clearly the right move, as he is now one of the wealthiest executives in the US.

What else can moviegoers look forward to?

CGI developments, which seem to be making the movie experience more exciting all the time, have made films based on video games much more credible contenders with other movie genres, and all signs point to more movies based on video games. Despite recent big screen efforts still being unable to catch up to the massive box office successes of Lara Croft’s Tomb Raider in 2001 or Bruckheimer’s epic Prince of Persia from 2010, this does not seem to have dampened the enthusiasm of Hollywood’s production companies, who have bought the rights to scores of video games in both fantasy and sci-fi genres. Moviegoers can thus look forward to adaptations ranging from Hitman to Angry Birds over the next few years.

The return of Agent 47

First up will be Agent 47, Fox’s big budget sequel to Hitman with Rupert Friend (Homeland) in the title role (originally, the late Paul Walker was slated for the role), which is due for release in summer 2015. Fox also has an adaptation of the hugely successful Assassin’s Creed series of video games currently in post-production, finally due for release for the 2016 holiday season – a 3D extravaganza that fans have been waiting for years to see, literally.

Angry Birds and Uncharted

Sony is hoping for box office success with movie adaptations of Angry Birds, the insanely addictive game for mobile phones that has become something of an international phenomenon, and Uncharted, the first ever movie based on this series of video games – both are slated for a 2016 release, though the latter has yet to announce a serious cast list.

The highest grossing film series based on video games ever, the Resident Evil series of movies, meanwhile shows no sign of slowing down. Milla Jovovich is all set to return as Alice in Resident Evil 6, which is also planned for a 2016 release. Director Paul Anderson has dismissed claims that Alice will finally be allowed to retire from her relentless war against zombies and evil scientists, saying that he is not yet ready to close the lid for good.

It still remains to be seen whether rumors of film adaptations of Gears of War, Gran Turismo, Halo, Bioshock, and Asteroids (Universal acquired the rights to this retro blaster game in 2009) will ever bear fruit.

Fans of video games and action movies need not panic; despite the fact that Lara Croft will soon be old enough to be a grandmother, the video game to movie trend shows no signs of stopping in the near future, with plenty of big budget sci-fi, fantasy, and action films set to entertain viewers over the years to come.

  

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