Update November 21, 2016: Warcraft movie director Duncan Jones says he'd be up for returning for a sequel, if a few of his wishes were granted.
Reading between the lines, Jones seemingly has some grievances about how the first movie was handled, particularly when it came to how much creative control he was handed. On Twitter today, when asked by a fan if he was up for doing a sequel, he replied, "Under the right conditions, I'd love to do another one!"
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Another fan stepped in and asked what those conditions were and his answer was simple: fewer cooks.
@cuuixsilver lower budget, less cooks in the kitchen.— Duncan Jones (@ManMadeMoon) 21 November 2016
Sam Raimi, who was the film's original director before Jones took over, had similar issues with Warcraft's production.
“I told them I wanted to make my own original story with [writer] Robert [Rodat], so we pitched it to Legendary and they accepted it, and then we pitched it to Blizzard, and they had reservations, but they accepted it," said Raimi at the time. "Then Robert wrote the screenplay, and only once he was done did we realise that Blizzard had veto power, and we didn't know that. And they had never quite approved the original story we pitched them.
“Those reservations were their way of saying, 'We don't approve this story, and we want to go a different way,' so after we had spent nine months working on this thing, we basically had to start over. And Robert did start over, but it was taking too long for the people at Blizzard, and their patience ran out. Honestly, I think it was mismanagement on their behalf, not to explain to us that the first story was vetoed long ago. Why did they let us keep working on it? Were they afraid to tell me?”
So Blizzard clearly want to maintain creative control over Warcraft, which perhaps put similar strain on Jones. Maybe if they're a bit more hands-off with the sequel, the Moon director will be back for another crack at the MMO movie adaptation.
Original Story September 30, 2016: Quality wholly aside for a moment, it’s fairly clear that this year’s Warcraft movie is begging for sequels. The official subtitle is The Beginning and while that was done for marketing reasons over artistic ones, any movie in an established universe with 20 years of stories is going to have a lot of potential for expansion. Orgrim Doomhammer actor Rob Kazinsky, who told you about his past as a hardcore WoW raider in our interview yesterday, has a lot of thoughts on that.
“I would love to see one,” he says, as you’d expect from any massive fan of the game. “I think if we want to do the first film justice we need to tell the whole story. The second and third films, the great wars, the sacking of Stormwind and seeing Thrall become, y’know, Thrall. I think that that would be something we should do and we need to do.”
Arguably the game that launched Warcraft to massive popularity, before the MMO came along, was Warcraft III and the story of Arthas and Illidan, the Lich King and the Frozen Throne. This is also when the Burning Legion make their first, proper appearance in the game chronology, if not in the story of the universe. Fitting all that into even a single movie, nevermind having to get through the plot of Warcraft II first, is going to be a challenge - but as Kazinsky put it yesterday, it’s where everyone wants to get to.
“There’s still no word on a sequel,” he explains. “I think that really very much depends on... like Pacific Rim, which also didn’t gross huge numbers worldwide but developed a huge following afterwards, and grossed huge on DVD sales and merchandising." Kazinsky also had a major role in that film, which has a sequel currently penciled in for August 2017.
“If we can carry on with that, then that will open ourselves up to a sequel where we can really begin to tell the stories that everyone’s looking for. And I don’t know if that’s going to happen, I really hope it’s going to happen because with everybody who cares so much about the product, about Warcraft in general, I think it would be a real shame if we weren’t able to tell the story that made us all love it in the first place.”
Money, it seems, will be the eventual decider. On a budget of $160 million, the box office records put $433.5 going through the movie worldwide. Huge swathes of that came out of China, where WoW and Blizzard are exceptionally popular, and it did rather well in most other non-US markets as well. By some amount of Hollywood accounting I don’t understand, it apparently still managed to make a loss.
That may mean a sequel would be more directly targeted at a Chinese market, especially considering Legendary’s co-ownership by a Chinese film company. Exactly what form that would take - chances are it wouldn’t eschew English language or production completely, for example - is up for debate.