Dungeons & Dragons: The Movie? Nope, no thank you. Do not want. This is a bad idea, Hollywood, and not just because of personal biases and my general fear of multi-sided dice. Now, I am no stranger to nerdy, geeky subcultures — the level of obsession I have about Doctor Who could certainly qualify as unhealthy — but does anyone actually think a Dungeons & Dragons movie is a good idea? Because no matter which way you slice it, there are going to be a lot of people, uh, less-than-enthused about the film's existence.
Sure, the potential is all there: a ferverent and obsessive sub-culture with dollars to spend on their favorite things, trendy subject matter thanks to the success of geek bait like The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and HBO's Game of Thrones. Plus, there are dragons, and swords, and heroes! (Quite a few beards, too.) D&D has everything that's hot right now, so a movie adaptation seems like a given in the age of cinematic co-opting.
But they've already tried — back in 2000 — and guess what? That film failed. Miserably. It cost $45 million to make and only earned $33 million worldwide. In fact, one of the producers of this iteration (Courtney Solomon) actually directed the first, Jeremy Irons-led film. Fool 'em once, but not again. The game succeeds because of its role-playing, interactive aspect, allowing the user to become the hero. Take that out of the mix, remove the players from the equation (a.k.a. your hopeful audience), and that'll just leave them feeling exploited.
When nerds and geeks love, they love truly, madly, deeply, and with funding: Why do you think we have so many comic book movies? Why do you think fans of clever shows like Sherlock, Doctor Who, and Game of Thrones control the bridge to Tumblr? The conventions, the costumes, the GIFs, the fandoms: all of it is because nerds and geeks are unafraid of loving things wholly and unabashedly. (It's an admirable trait to have!) But therein creates the problem: D&D is stepping so deep into the geek blackhole that you may be hard-pressed to get anyone outside to follow you in. The connotation and stereotypes surrounding D&D immediately negate the possibility of mass appeal. Plus, commodifying such a marker of the culture is going to unleash some serious nerdrage. Unless you rename it and brand it entirely separate from Dungeons & Dragons the game, it's hard to imagine success following.
But none of that really matters now, as the studio is apparently well into the development process for the film, having nabbed the Wrath Of The Titans scribbler David Leslie Johnson to pen it (per Deadline). A script already in existence titled Chainmail was acquired last year based on another game created by one of D&D's designers, Gary Gygax, and will be utilized to fit into the larger story. Additionally, producers are already in place, including the aforementioned Solomon and his fellow The Lego Movie producer Roy Lee. Basically, it's happening whether you like it or not.
What do you think about a possible Dungeons & Dragons movie? Think we're wrong? Let us know in the comments.
Follow Alicia Lutes on Twitter @alicialutes