Is it game-over for the World of Warcraft movie?

News, Screen

WarcraftAlmost three years of silence have followed the announcement that Sam Raimi was attached to direct a big screen adaptation of Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft. Typically a silence of this magnitude indicates that a project has bitten the dust or found its way into development hell, but reading between the lines of Raimi’s recent announcement that he is no longer involved with the movie, it does in fact appear that there may be some life left in this project after all.

What quality of life, of course, remains to be seen.

It’s not often that we get excited about adaptations of video or computer games for the big screen as the results are almost always disappointing, but the July 2009 announcement by Blizzard Entertainment and Legendary Pictures that Sam Raimi had been handed the helm of a live-action Warcraft movie was enough to get most of us old gamers excited. Raimi is well able to handle blockbuster material as he’s demonstrated with the Spider Man franchise, but it was his earlier work, the Evil Dead and especially Army of Darkness that convinced many of us that he was the man to bring the forces of the Horde and the Alliance to epic life. Blizzard went to great effort over the years developing the Warcraft narrative and it was reassuring to hear from Raimi that “At its core, Warcraft is a fantastic, action-packed story.”

On the choice of Raimi as director, Paul Sams, chief operating officer of Blizzard Entertainment, commented that: “Blizzard Entertainment and Legendary Pictures have a shared vision for this film and we searched at length to find the very best director to bring that vision to life. From our first conversation with Sam, we could tell he was the perfect choice. Sam knows how to simultaneously satisfy the enthusiasts and the mainstream audience that might be experiencing that content for the first time.”

So true, and why it’s such a shame that Raimi is no longer at the helm. The director told Crave Online at Comic Con last week that his involvement with Oz: The Great and Powerful has meant his departure from the Warcraft project: “Actually, they don’t have me directing World of Warcraft anymore because when I took the Oz job, they had to move on to another director. They had to start making it.”

On the upside, Raimi appears to imply that the project has found its way out of development hell and that it is moving forward, just without him.

Of course, we’ve all seen enough horror movies to know that caution is advisable when dealing with anyone or anything that has clawed its way back from hell as it’s usually possessed by something unspeakably evil. History has taught us that in the hands of most directors the adaptation of games for the big screen is generally disappointing, and if Raimi’s replacement is any less talented, there may in fact be no upside to this bit of news. Unfortunately there’s no word from Blizzard or Legendary Pictures about who has accompanied this project out of development hell in place of Raimi, so it’s probably safest to assume for now that this project is possessed by the spirit of the evil dead.

Where the hell is Sam Raimi when we need him?!

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