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With all the news about The Hobbit movie and movies based on fairytales being announced left, right and center, I have one very simple question to ask the collective minds of Hollywood: Why isn’t there a massive Dungeons & Dragons movie being made at this very minute?
First off, let’s get this out the way: I know that there was a Dungeons & Dragons movie back in 2000, and that it (a) wasn’t a hit, and more importantly, (b) wasn’t very good. What I want isn’t a sequel to that, however. No, what I want is something that takes full advantage of the strange and surreal place that Dungeons & Dragons occupies in pop culture. Think about it: It’s got the brand name awareness of mega-hits like Transformers and GI Joe – oh, and like those franchises, it also had a fondly-remembered-if-not-exactly-great animated series back in the 1980s (Uni!) – as well as the toyetic value of both properties. It’s got the subculture of a Twilight or Star Trek down pat, as well – Imagine the merchandising opportunities! – and, most importantly, it’s got the potential for the epic fantasy storytelling of a Lord of The Rings or Avatar already built in, without the need for all-new world-building on the part of the moviemakers. So… why isn’t someone making this happen already?
At its core, I guess it has to be a mix of rights and shyness after the failure of the last movie. After all, there’s no way that someone somewhere doesn’t want to be making this movie even as you read these words – I just finished the (surprisingly enjoyable) Dungeons & Dragons #1 from IDW, and it’s written by Transformers screenwriter and Leverage creator John Rogers, so it’s not like there’s no-one out there who gets the culture or backstory – so there must, I assume, be some reason it’s not happening that’s related to whoever holds the movie rights. Does New Line still hold the rights after the 2000 movie (Apparently not, as they don’t seem to be involved in this little-known 2005 sequel)? And if not, who does? Surely it can’t be that owner Hasbro – the same company that owns those Transformers and GI Joe franchises, and which also has a movie production company of its own – is afraid of making a movie out of it.
It’s just perplexing. You’d think that with the dual hungers for nostalgic/instant-name-recognition properties as well as fantasy features (as evidenced by the new Fairy Tale Fad that Hollywood seems to be getting swept up in), a D&D movie would be so much more of a no-brainer than, say, Battleship or Stretch Armstrong… So why isn’t it happening?