Blizzard Veto Power Kills Raimi's Warcraft Movie

| 6 Mar 2013 14:00
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Sam Raimi of Evil Dead fame tells how his World of Warcraft movie pitch went south.

"So I read a screenplay they had that was written by the guys at [World of Warcraft developer] Blizzard," says Raimi, "and it didn't quite work for me." Raimi wanted to revamp the Warcraft screenplay into something more in tune with his personal aesthetic, and since production company Legendary was on board with that, he and scriptwriter Robert Rodat got to work. Nine months later, the man who made Evil Dead and Spider Man suddenly realizes, to his horror, that Blizzard retains veto power over any script changes. Blizzard hadn't explicitly given its OK to Raimi's story adjustments - even though Blizzard knew about them, since Raimi had pitched to Blizzard after Legendary said OK - citing unspecified reservations. That was the rock on which Raimi foundered.

"Those reservations were their way of saying, 'We don't approve this story, and we want to go a different way,'" Raimi says, "so after we had spent nine months working on this thing, we basically had to start over." And that was what he and Rodat did, but by that point too much time had passed, and Blizzard wasn't willing to give an extension to the team that had already put in nine months on a project that Blizzard knew full well it didn't want to go ahead.

"Honestly, I think it was mismanagement on their behalf, not to explain to us that the first story was vetoed long ago," Raimi says. "Why did they let us keep working on it? Were they afraid to tell me?"

When Raimi described his departure from the Warcraft movie project last year, it sounded more like a scheduling conflict. This latest revelation is a bit more to the point; perhaps Blizzard ought to have stepped in before nine month's worth of work was wasted.

Source: The Vulture

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I love how people are SO fucking eager to jump on that "Let's bash on Blizzard" bandwagon that they'll rush to the defense of, of all things, video game-based movies. Honestly, people, has ANY video game movie acted to serve as an example that Raimi's script could have been spectacular? I know we're will still bitter over D3, but really? You're going to defend atrocities like the Tomb Raider movie or *Shudder* the Resident Evil movies?!

Skeleon:

Halyah:
Sadly the bs in wow ain't particularly mockable, but starcraft on the other hand... *Grabs popcorn* Time to riff like a maniac when heart of the swarm is out!

Yeaaah, I actually really liked the story of Starcraft, with the oppressive government, the rebellion, the new oppressive empire, the Protoss' homeworld and their civil war and long-abandoned brothers.
The only thing I really didn't much care for was the whole "Queen of Blades"-stuff, because I would've preferred to learn more about the squabbles of the cerebrates. Instead they were only cannon fodder/mission objectives to be killed.
From what I understand, though, Starcraft 2 had a lot less of the large-scale political stuff but was more focused on the characters and especially Kerrigan. Kind of the exact opposite of where I would've wanted it to go, so I don't exactly expect something grand from the full-priced addon.

I was speaking of Starcraft 2's story. It was kind of a mess to be honest due to the way they set everything up. You could excuse some of it away by filling in the holes, but the problem is that pulling that off would require a competent writer and that's something blizzard doesn't have. It does however make it ripe fodder for riffin' 'n mockin'. :P

Starcraft 1 on the other hand did decently well, but that comes with being made before the writing team became completely batshit bonkers.

Plus the UED will beat all three factions combined if they ever send an actual war fleet over to that sector anyway. :P

So Blizzard didn't like the script and ended the project. Add that to the massive pile of scripts that never got finished because of differences between the money, the writer, and/or the director.

Halyah:
Sadly the bs in wow ain't particularly mockable, but starcraft on the other hand... *Grabs popcorn* Time to riff like a maniac when heart of the swarm is out!

Yeaaah, I actually really liked the story of Starcraft, with the oppressive government, the rebellion, the new oppressive empire, the Protoss' homeworld and their civil war and long-abandoned brothers.
The only thing I really didn't much care for was the whole "Queen of Blades"-stuff, because I would've preferred to learn more about the squabbles of the cerebrates. Instead they were only cannon fodder/mission objectives to be killed.
From what I understand, though, Starcraft 2 had a lot less of the large-scale political stuff but was more focused on the characters and especially Kerrigan. Kind of the exact opposite of where I would've wanted it to go, so I don't exactly expect something grand from the full-priced addon.

I doubt that Raimi would've been able to convey a movie that properly appealed to its fans.

I honestly loved the Spartacus series, all of them, but a Warcraft movie deserves a bit more than random gore scenes with underlying or overt sexual themes, which Raimi does best. Not just because Warcraft is a nostalgic childhood memory of mine, but because there is so much rich lore, politics, current day issues(if you dig a bit) and controversies to exploit.

I think Blizzard knows best in this case;
1. Because they have *some* cinematic experience.
2. Because they made all of the lore, they have a massive and extensive amount that could fill hundreds of books and movies.

I'm not sure it was a dick move by Blizzard, it sounds like Raimi either lost interest or that it was a management error.
Them retaining rights is a good thing that can spare us from yet another sucky adaptation that seems right in the mind of a director, but has nothing to do with its audience.

It's not only that there's a potentially good movie at stake here, it's about the doors it will open for other great potential movies once investors realize that there's something to gain here!
Mass Effect movie anyone? Deus Ex? Dragon Age? Fable? Dead Space? Fallout?

Sonic Doctor:

Bat Vader:
I like that Blizzard had veto power on script changes. I think more developers need to have that or 100% control of the project when they plan on letting someone turn their game into a movie. That way we might actually start getting movies that stay truthful to the game.

Agreed. Too many times have popular stories/books been in line to be made into movies, but during the process we get moronic directors along with nutty screenplay writers that end up doing their darnedest to ignore the source material they are given and say, "Well this won't work, we have to change this, this, this, this, oh and we can't have this."

Finally, if the movie does end up getting finished and released, it turns out the only thing that clues you in that the movie is an adaption of the book is the title of the movie.

I understand if a book as been made into a movie multiple times and the proper and truest story adaption has already been done, then people can make whatever crazy adaption they want, but if the property has never been made into a properly adapted movie, then whatever director and screenplay writer gets a hold of it had better damn well hug and hold onto the source material like it was oxygen and they would die if they aren't in contact with it 24/7.

I know how you feel. I think the only good book to movie adaptions I have ever seen was Tolkien's LOTR Trilogy, The Hobbit, Watchmen even with the changed ending, and HBO's Game of Thrones. I am sure there have pry been more but I have not seen them. I find it funny how there have been successful book to movie adaptions but there has not been any successful game to movie adaptions. Only two good movie based games that I played was The Two Towers and Return of The King.

Honestly, the way I see the best way to adapt a film is split it into parts or turn it into a miniseries. I could see Hitman being turned into a miniseries with each mission an hour long episode or Mass Effect with each mission being used as a two part episode thing. They could even let people vote on what happens before the season starts.

It's one of those cases where I believe Blizzard would do more harm than good with their involvement in this project. They need to step back and ask themselves if they really want this to go through. If so, they need to step back and take their hands off the projects. Oddly enough, I trust blizzard even less than the Director when it comes to delivering a decent Warcraft Movie. Most of Blizzards writing consists of cannon Fanfiction staring the Dev teams current favorite characters.

Skeleon:

Can't say that I do know the most hated writer, but I am aware of some really shitty (and some really good!) WH40K stories. Anyway, I guess generic/cookie-cutter would've been preferable at that point, eh? To be honest, I never started with WoW. I had my fill of MMORPGs with UO years ago.

It would be yes. Because cookie cutter stuff at least tend to make -some- degree sense of. The majority of the writing post vanilla WoW has been like the blizzard version of DC's Countdown and Marvels Ultimatum(both renowned for sucking a lot). It's a shame too since game mechanically they tend to do well. Plus having friends in WoW to RP with makes it worth it. Sadly the bs in wow ain't particularly mockable, but starcraft on the other hand... *Grabs popcorn* Time to riff like a maniac when heart of the swarm is out!

Scorpid:

C.S. Goto or Matt Ward? Either one is fun to beat on anyday.

Either is a good match for people like Knaak(who's writing is particularly atrocious. That man can't even be aware that he's writing for an established setting given the stuff he craps out is so incoherent at the best of times) and a lot of the writing staff. Metzen on the other hand is basically the blizzard version of George Lucas... Granted Georgey may have been a tad more coherent than him.

mronoc:
People seem to be forgetting that the one underwhelming film Raimi's made in his career is the one that was ruined by executives getting in the way of the movie he was trying to make.

This. Raimi makes good films when he gets his way. Everybody remembers Spiderman 3 as being a train wreck and his worst film. It certainly wasn't his best. Still, it raked in $891million worldwide. In reading MovieBob's tweets last night, I interpreted from him that Oz is going to make a mint.

I have the feeling that if Blizzard had just said "okay" to Raimi, that they might not have gotten the exact film they wanted, but they would have made money. Blizzard has money. So "the film they want" is likely the desired end product here.

Sonic Doctor:

Bat Vader:
I like that Blizzard had veto power on script changes. I think more developers need to have that or 100% control of the project when they plan on letting someone turn their game into a movie. That way we might actually start getting movies that stay truthful to the game.

Agreed. Too many times have popular stories/books been in line to be made into movies, but during the process we get moronic directors along with nutty screenplay writers that end up doing their darnedest to ignore the source material they are given and say, "Well this won't work, we have to change this, this, this, this, oh and we can't have this."

Finally, if the movie does end up getting finished and released, it turns out the only thing that clues you in that the movie is an adaption of the book is the title of the movie.

I understand if a book as been made into a movie multiple times and the proper and truest story adaption has already been done, then people can make whatever crazy adaption they want, but if the property has never been made into a properly adapted movie, then whatever director and screenplay writer gets a hold of it had better damn well hug and hold onto the source material like it was oxygen and they would die if they aren't in contact with it 24/7.

Fully onboard with this. I don't get the whole "Way to be dicks, Blizzard" argument here at all. Yes, Blizzard are awful at writing stories, but for god's sake, it's their lore. Even if the story ends up mediocre, I'd rather have that while staying loyal to the franchise, than director and writer putting their own "vision" into it more than they should and in the end just creating another generic movie with a license that is just guaranteed to make a quick buck.

And I just feel the whole "They didn't tell us at all!" thing is just a misunderstanding. Whoever is responsible for it, it is still the result of Raimi assuming too much.

snekadid:
I honestly have no sympathy for either side. Blizzard played the ass card by not telling rami that his changes weren't acceptable and Rami played the egoist role by deciding to do what he wanted with someone else IP and then not actually asking them if it was ok and would of got away with it except Blizzard made sure they maintained control in the contract. It was a clash of 2 entities with heads up rears and no progress was made, an age old tale.

Pretty much how I feel. One was negligent in being silent for too long and the other got a bit too carried away with someone else's property and made too many assumptions without actually checking in with them, from the sound of things. Just seems like a lot of bad communication from both fronts. Sounds to me like everyone is at fault equally, and no one is really "the bad guy".

I'm glad they didn't let him do as he pleased with it. The most annoying thing about video game based movies is the disrespect to the original story.

I honestly have no sympathy for either side. Blizzard played the ass card by not telling rami that his changes weren't acceptable and Rami played the egoist role by deciding to do what he wanted with someone else IP and then not actually asking them if it was ok and would of got away with it except Blizzard made sure they maintained control in the contract. It was a clash of 2 entities with heads up rears and no progress was made, an age old tale.

So he was working with Activision only to realise he got screwed over...Welcome to the gaming industry Sam.

I have a feeling that when this guy saw the terrible script (possibly written up by Chris Metzen) he made changes, and then whatever egotistical writer that wrote the first iteration got uppity about it and complained to his boss.

I don't know if that's what happened, but I wouldn't be surprised.

Wouldn't want to see a WoW movie anyway. I play on RP servers and I generally have a lot of fun going through adventures with my own character and others.
The movie would more likely be about a few major lore characters, probably faction leaders, most of which I either don't like or don't care about.

Halyah:

Ralen-Sharr:
The only part of this that surprises me is that Blizzard wasn't doing it themselves. They have pretty good cinematics.

That'd only result in us having Avatar Part 2. Good visual, but a story you wouldn't even deign to be fit as toilet paper.

Skeleon:
Honestly? Warcraft's story was extremely cookie-cutter, anyway (I haven't kept up with it since Frozen Throne, but up to that point it wasn't that outstanding). It would've been a rather generic movie.

Their writing prior to TBC was fairly standard with relatively few fuck ups, but from about WoW and onwards it just became increasingly bad. If you're familiar with Wh40k's most hated writer then imagine an entire writing staff dipping into that territory most of the time they 'produce' anything. That's not really cookie cutter so much as depressingly sad.

OT: Good riddance too. Given blizzards idea of what writing constitutes, the last thing I wanted to see was another round of characters like Tyrande, Jaina and so on getting dragged through the freaking mud while Malfurion and SupershamanJesusOrcMan taking all the spotlight. So yeah this is a net gain for all of us.

C.S. Goto or Matt Ward? Either one is fun to beat on anyday.

And then Ash killed Arthas and all the undead, but before he could go home he had to go to Sanctuary and deal with some guy named Diablo so Deckard Cain could give him the potion to sleep for 100 years per drop....

mronoc:
I'm seeing a surprising amount of gamers heaving a sigh of relief. People seem to be forgetting that the one underwhelming film Raimi's made in his career is the one that was ruined by executives getting in the way of the movie he was trying to make.

Honestly, I don't play WOW so I don't really have a sense of what the story is about, but for a while I was somewhat hopeful that a major director would be handling an IP like this. Now, especially with the line about keeping in his "own sense of aesthetics," I'm starting to wonder: was this movie, about the mystical epic world of Warcraft, going to actually work when the director's "aesthetics" include these?:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWJQR6SNMF8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pC_XT-HdBvE

At the risk of sounding un-adventurous and bland, it definitely would've been a unique take on it, but I just don't think it would've been...good.

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