Friday, 10 May 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On 1020: Dungeons & Dragons & Courtrooms & Lawyers.

Warner Brothers announced that they are going to make a Dungeons & Dragons movie inspired by the venerable table-top role-playing game.

Hasbro and Universal Pictures then declared "AW HELL NO!" saying that they own the rights to any D&D based movie due to an amazingly complicated rights deal involving Hasbro, game maker Wizards of the Coast, and at least two Hollywood studios and who truly owns the movie rights to what elements of the game.

When I saw this story I was immediately hit with a powerful mental image.

It wasn't of noble heroes battling mythical beasts in a fantastical setting.

Far from it.

Instead I saw two dogs in a junkyard fighting over a broken fan belt.

A lot of noise, a lot of kicked up dirt, and maybe even some blood drawn, all for something that the winner probably wouldn't know what to do with.

I know I'm sounding like yet another judgemental cynic on the internet, but I have some facts to back me up.

Those facts are that it was done before, badly, really badly.

The tagline for the Dungeons & Dragons movie was "This is no game," and it wasn't much of a movie either.

That didn't stop them from making two super-cheap direct to video sequels that hardly anyone saw and nobody liked.

So you're probably wondering why Warner Brothers would be so eager to try again even though the previous three attempts were dismal failures.

It all boils down to one word:


Warner Brothers wrapped up the hyper-lucrative Harry Potter movies, The Hobbit will be wrapping in a few years even if they stretch the little book to five movies, and they're unable to get a decent DC Comics movie off the ground without Legendary Pictures holding their hand, they need a nice big blockbuster genre franchise with a recognizable "brand" attached to it.

Enter Dungeons & Dragons.

It's enjoying a resurgence in popularity with other table-top games because people like the social aspect over the distance inherent in computer games. It's also a game, unlike Battleship, that is literally built around story-telling.

Think about it, you have a bunch of people sitting around a table. Each has a character, a situation for those characters to solve that involves action and monsters and exotic locales. The Dungeon Master then uses the rules to guide those characters through the situation until they reach a conclusion, literally composing a story as they went along.

Tell that to a studio executive and they'll say...
But they would be wrong.




You see unlike Harry Potter, or a comic book, the story-telling of Dungeons and Dragons is uber-personal. It doesn't have the singular vision of a single author, or in the case of a comic book a team of authors, story-wise it has literally hundreds of thousands of authors.

Each player has their own vision of a D&D type adventure in their mind, because that's where the D&D action is. There are also no set-in-stone characters to build a movie franchise on, merely settings, classes, and races.

Now people do create D&D based novels all the time, and the fans seem to like them because the books are perceived as one person's personal vision of the places and creatures of the game being presented to entertain other fans. However a movie has a lot more weight on its back than a paperback novel. Because it's such a rare event, and would be by nature, an expensive production it's expected to be the definitive representation of the entire D&D franchise as a whole, not just one facet of it.

That might be well nigh impossible.

That is unless they do a live action movie of the 80s D&D cartoon.... that might work.

                         I kid....  I kid....


  1. Rainforest Giant here,

    I think that Snails (or whatever his name was) was a fantastic character to build a franchise around. That was what was missing. Or maybe it was just a crappy movie.

    What they ought to do is purchase the rights to something like Quag Keep, making the game part of the story.

    Otherwise it is just another sword and sorcery movie.

    I should have some insight to this game as I played it once upon a long time ago. However, my only certainty is that they will make a lousy movie.

    I honestly think that Universal is just looking for a cut not looking to make their own movie.

    Furious, there are a number of books that they could adapt what about that?

  2. I'm sounding like yet another judgemental cynic on the internet...

    D, you are THE judgmental cynic on the internet.

  3. Rainforest Giant-

    You might be right about Universal looking for a payoff to do nothing. As for adapting the books... Hmmm... After seeing the overly complex mess over the movie rights to the game alone, I don't want to know about the movie rights to the books, since they involve the authors, and whether if it's a work-for-hire deal, or are they owed a percentage, or Xenu knows what.


    I'm THE Sweetheart of the Internet!

    Take that Felicia Day!

  4. Sandy Petersen12/5/13 7:26 pm

    I want to be the first to rant about your unwelcome new format. What the hell have you done, Furious - you suck ... oh wait. I actually LIKE the new format. Sorry about that.

    Carry on.

    P.S. D&D is an absolutely idiotic franchise, since it is a mishmash of medieval fantasy, and any writer worth the powder to blow him to Hell can create his own mishmash of fantasy just as good.

  5. I actually adapted CoC for medieval fantasy rpging about a million years ago. I worked really well with a RE Howard feel to it.

    So thanks Sandy.
    Rainforest Giant