A feature film based on the fantasy role-playing game “Dungeons & Dragons” is in the works at Warner Bros., and the studio said Monday it will have it in theaters as quickly as possible.
WB is teaming with Hasbro’s Allspark Pictures and Sweetpea Entertainment on the project. The film production company and the toy giant have resolved their legal battle over who owned the rights, and Warner Bros. has fast-tracked the production. It already has script, written by David Leslie Johnson (“The Conjuring 2,” “Wrath of the Titans”), but there is no director or cast, and a shooting date has yet to be set.
“We are so excited about bringing the world of ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ to life on the big screen,” said Greg Silverman, president, creative development and worldwide production at Warner Bros. Pictures. “This is far and away the most well-known brand in fantasy, which is the genre that drives the most passionate film followings.”
Silverman is understandably bullish on fantasy films, since the studio’s “Harry Potter” and “Lord of the Rings” franchises are among the most profitable in Hollywood history. And this potentially gives Warner Bros. a fourth major franchise, in addition to the films based on DC Comics, J.K. Rowling’s “Fantastic Beasts” book series and LEGO toys.
“Dungeons & Dragons” arrived in 1974, and since then has amassed millions of players and fans worldwide. The iconic game became so popular it was regularly referenced in humorous barbs as the pastime of nerds and geeks. More signifiantly however, it has influenced numerous writers, directors, game designers and other creative professionals throughout its four decades.
“This is such an enormous opportunity to bring the rich fantasy setting of the Forgotten Realms to life and, together with the creative powerhouse of Warner Bros., use movies to tell the stories that have enchanted passionate D&D fans for decades,” said Stephen Davis, executive vice-president and chief content officer of Hasbro. “D&D is the role-playing game that started it all and now we have the opportunity to ignite a franchise for its legions of avid fans in a way never done before.”
The announcement reflects the resolution of Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast LLC’s complaint against Sweetpea Entertainment, Inc. and Sweetpea BVI, Ltd. and the counterclaims filed by Sweetpea against Hasbro in May 2013 related to the Dungeons & Dragon brand. Solomon and Zeman will be attached to produce all Warner Bros.-produced “Dungeons & Dragons” film and television productions. All rights for future Dungeons & Dragons productions have been unified and returned to Wizards of the Coast, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hasbro.
There were no budget details released Monday, but it’s sure to be bigger than the $45 million it cost to produce the movie version of the game released in 2000 by Warner Bros.’ New Line unit. That one, produced and directed by Courtney Solomon and starring Justin Whalin, Marlon Wayans, Jeremy Irons and Thora Birch, was a bomb. It grossed roughly $15 million domestically and $33 million worldwide.