Monday, July 01, 2013

Is An MMO Really The Way To Go For A Movie?

I’m incredibly conflicted. For a while I thought that the World of Warcraft movie would just peter out. The idea was announced in 2006 and here we are, 2013 and nothing really has progressed.  Most recently, Duncan Jones was signed on as the director. Sam Raimi (SpiderMan fame) was originally suppose to take the helm, but quit after he found out how much influence Blizzard would have in the final product. Because it is Blizzard and yes, they do care about their properties and the end result.

The Gawker tech subsidiary had a chance to throw out a question to Thomas Tull, the chief of Legendary Studios, who will be producing the WoW movie: “how do you make a video game movie that doesn’t suck?” His response was honest, in that people should not approach it as “oh, well if this many people play the game, then they will buy the ticket” because it doesn’t work like that. For them, the focus is on taking their time and really developing a story that will enchant fans of the game and general movie-goers.

That’s all well and good. But then we return to the problem that myself and others have brought up in the case of the Mass Effect movie: how do you decide what stays and what goes? WoW isn’t just an MMO. It’s also a series of books, card games, and miniatures. There are depts. to the WoW universe that are…well, beyond imaginable. How in the living hell do you tailor down such a massive product to fit within the confines of a movie? It’s something Legendary and Blizzard will have to figure out if they plan to stick with this current group of writers, producers, and director (after so much time, people tend to fizzle away to work on other projects).

Here is the harsh reality of a movie adaptation (this applies to theater, books, games, tv shows, and everything in-between). A film cannot include everything. It’s impossible.

If the Lord of the Rings trilogy were really remade sentence for sentence like the book, the movies would be either ridiculously long (we’re talking about 24 hour + on each one) or broken into smaller parts. Two Towers alone could easily make up 15 movies.

Logistically, financially, and realistically, it is not feasible to include every aspect of a book into a movie. Things have to be removed. This is why I don’t get into the “well they shouldn’t have left this out” debate because truthfully there are certain plot points that have to be removed in order for the movie to work.

And with WoW they are going to have A LOT of content that will need to be left behind.

It’s the fact that fans of the game and Blizzard will need to aware of in order for the movie to have any chance of moving forward. If you want to see the movie, you’re going to have to deal with this reality. So get over it. You are probably not going to see a myriad of your favorite NPC’s.

Next issue: Who is the story going to focus on? Typically a movie will center around 1-2 major characters with a triage of minor’s. The Avengers is the most main character heavy movie that we’ve had in a while, and when it comes down to it, the stars were Iron Man, Capt A and Thor. The others were treated as additional/side-characters. The group of characters for WoW needs to be no more than 5 people. Audiences don’t want to have their experience cluttered by having to remember the names and nuances of 20 different people. They can only afford to give up space to care about 1-3 of them, tops. More than likely the script is going to create 3-5 very unique characters that will be placed in to the WoW universe, not pre-existing ones. It’s the best way for the script to maintain control over their characters without muddying up the realm with too much new content.

And the next point: Do we focus on the Alliance or the Horde? A lot of people like to play the bad guys. That is one of the original draws to the game. The most obvious point would be a band of heroes coming together to stop the Horde. However, it could very easily switch roles and make the Horde the stars. But we have to think in movie standards, so the Alliance will be the star team. It’ll be inevitable. There is no way to show both sides in a favorable light. The Alliance is just a little more “gooder” in comparison to the Horde. And people like movies where it’s good vs. evil. It’s just inevitable.

In order for a WoW movie to work, fans, Blizzard, and the movie studio need to realize that there is no way to please everyone. There will be people that dislike the movie because they didn’t include a favorite plot point, or a character, or they spent too much time on this one spot and not on another. Things have to be eliminated and focused in order for a story to develop. Now…an MMO just seems like a really bad idea to try and harness this focus. I can’t imagine taking the scale of WoW and reducing it into a 2 hour movie. It’s not just that task is daunting, but there’s no way to fully convey the depth of WoW in 2 hours, no matter how much you shed. Maybe Legendary should look at Diablo. At least the content is a bit more limited in comparison to WoW and would be easier to translate to a movie format.

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