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Sam Raimi to Direct World of Warcraft Movie

WoW, a video-game movie that might not suck!

Featuring Bruce Campbell as Edwin VanCleef. (Unconfirmed)
Featuring Bruce Campbell as Edwin VanCleef. (Unconfirmed)
Blizzard has been talking about doing a World of Warcraft movie for a few years now, but today it just got serious, as it has been revealed that Sam Raimi, director of the Spider-Man and cult-favorite Evil Dead movies, is attached to direct. I don't want to jump the gun here, but this news makes me think that World of Warcraft has the potential to be the movie that finally lifts video-game film adaptations out of the squalid sub-B-movie ghetto they've occupied for the past 20 years.

For one, Blizzard has built up a deep and interesting fiction around the World of Warcraft. Sure, it has the surface traits of any other Lord of the Rings/ D&D high-fantasy epic, but its gone to great lengths to define not only a really distinct and rich history for its world, as well as stock it with loads of recognizable and dramatic characters. Two, Sam Raimi has a pretty terrific track record with adapting colorful, fantastical source material into big-budget blockbusters that manage to have a little heart and soul to them. Yes, Spider-Man 3 was terrible, but for my money superhero movies don't get much better than Spider-Man 2. Lastly, I find it reassuring that Legendary Pictures is the production company behind World of Warcraft, having previously produced both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

The real question now is what, exactly, will the World of Warcraft movie be about? The hacky thing to do would be to focus on a band of player-type characters, but I'd much rather see a story about the rise and fall of Arthas Menethil, better known as the powerful and crazy-evil Lich King. Then again, the beauty of World of Warcraft is that it's such a huge, well-realized world that there are a number of interesting directions they could go. Here's Blizzard's press release regarding this announcement in its entirety.
 

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – July 22, 2009 -- Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. and Legendary Pictures announced today that Sam Raimi has signed on to direct the eagerly-anticipated major motion picture based on Blizzard Entertainment’s award-winning Warcraft® universe. Raimi has, in the course of his career, clearly demonstrated a genius for developing and adapting existing fictional universes for mainstream audiences while staying true to the spirit of the original content.
 
Raimi directed the Spider-Man trilogy, which has broken box-office records around the world and garnered five Academy Award®nominations. Known for his imaginative filmmaking style, richly drawn characters and offbeat humor, Raimi wrote and directed the cult classic, The Evil Dead and produced 30 Days Of Night. He most recently wrote and directed the supernatural thriller, Drag Me To Hell.
 
“At its core, Warcraft is a fantastic, action-packed story,” said Raimi. “I am thrilled to work with such a dynamite production team to bring this project to the big screen.”
 
Charles Roven’s producing talents were recently seen with last summer’s blockbuster The Dark Knight, which grossed in excess of $1 billion, was nominated for eight Academy Awards® and won two. His body of work also includes the widely acclaimed Batman Begins and the sci-fi classic 12 Monkeys. Roven, with Atlas producing partner Alex Gartner, will be producing with Legendary Pictures CEO Thomas Tull, Legendary’s Chief Creative Officer Jon Jashni, Raimi and Raimi’s producing partner Joshua Donen. Raimi’s partner, Robert Tapert, will be an Executive Producer and Blizzard Entertainment’s Senior Vice President of Creative Development, Chris Metzen, a Co-Producer.
 
“Partnering with Sam Raimi exemplifies Legendary's mandate of marrying the highest quality intellectual property to world-class filmmakers” said Legendary’s Tull. “Sam's passion for 'Warcraft' is undeniable and we know that he will create an incredible film worthy of Blizzard's phenomenal franchise. We look forward to collaborating with our partners at Warner Bros. and continuing our successful relationship with Chuck in bringing this rich new world to the screen.”
 
“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,” said Paul Sams, chief operating officer of Blizzard Entertainment. “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. We're looking forward to working with him to achieve that here.”
 
“Blizzard Entertainment’s Warcraft has become a second home for millions of players and Sam’s experience and talent make him the perfect director for this remarkable and action-packed world,” said Atlas’ Roven. “Alex and I are proud to be working with Sam and re-teaming with our friends at Legendary and Warner Bros.”
 
The film will fall under Legendary Pictures’ co-production and co-financing deal with Warner Bros. “Warcraft is emblematic of the kind of branded, event films for which our studio is best known. We have enjoyed great success with our partners at Legendary, and this is an incredible opportunity for us to work with Sam on a project that is so eagerly anticipated by so many,” said Jeff Robinov, President, Warner Bros. Pictures Group.
 
Blizzard Entertainment’s Warcraft universe is a rich fantasy setting that revolves around the epic conflict between the opposing forces of the Horde and the Alliance. Since its debut in 1994, Warcraft has developed a loyal following across the globe, with several bestselling, award-winning PC games and a range of popular licensed products including novels, action figures, apparel, comic books, board games, and more.World of Warcraft®, Blizzard Entertainment’s subscription-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game set in the Warcraft universe, is the most popular game of its kind in the world. Its most recent expansion, Wrath of the Lich King™, is the fastest-selling PC game of all time, with more than 2.8 million copies sold in its first 24 hours of availability and more than 4 million in its first month.
 
Further details about the upcoming Warcraft movie, including cast and targeted release date, will be revealed as development progresses.