D&D: The Moviening

We’re going to get another D&D movie. Here’s the story.

D&D movies have a tortured history.

The story I’ve always heard is that a gentleman named Courtney Solomon tied up perpetual rights from Lorraine Williams during her period of ownership in the ’90s.

I’ve never met Mr. Solomon, and have only third-hand information to draw on. But the Dungeons & Dragons feature film he directed can do the talking. I will tell my own story.

In 2000, Wizards of the Coast did something awesome for employees for the movie’s pre-release: they rented out a movie theater and took us all to see the Dungeons & Dragons movie in the middle of the day. Hundreds of alpha geeks crowded into the theater to watch.

When the lights came up after, there was no applause. There was a murmur. Then we all went back to work.

The appropriate people inside the company continued to be positive about it, but I was surprised that no one seemed to give it the thrashing it so evoked. I’m sure it happened in private. But no overturned desks or broken windows followed. No one set a flaming effigy. We all just understood that something we loved had been treated poorly. Scorn couldn’t change that.

IMDB says that Mr. Solomon was an executive producer on the sequel (Wrath of the Dragon God)  but doesn’t indicate any involvement in the other two D&D-related movies that occurred since then, The Book of Vile Darkness and the Dragonlance animated release.

None of these movies have been particularly well received, so it’s hard to pile an abundance of blame at Mr. Solomon’s feet. But he still should be waist-deep in it just for fruitlessly tying up the rights for so many years.

And yet. D&D screams for movie treatment.

I think the reasons that this might be a good idea are apparent. Why might it be a bad idea?

1) D&D is about imagining your own adventure. The allure of D&D is your own ideas. I can groove on a Warcraft movie, because I share the characters and the story beats with millions of other people. D&D is shared though, in groups of 2-6 people.

2) D&D is a giant hodge podge. You can’t fit everything that should be a D&D movie into a D&D movie. So everybody leaves a little disappointed. It’s like the legislative process: lawmakers try disappointing everyone the least. Woo.

3) This is being adapted from a pre-written script. It is not the product of a love affair. It is the product of someone at WB looking at all the zeroes following LotR and Harry Potter and wanting to do more of that sort of thing, and hey, Hollywood scriptwriter, you’ve got a fantasy script cooling on your hard drive, right? That is seldom the backstory of a well-made artistic endeavor.

After being a diehard comics and games fan for pretty much my entire life, I’ve been frankly shocked at my behavior in the last decade. My own rank ambivalence around all the comic book- and game-related movies stuttering out each year seems heretical.  To me!

It’s just… I love quality even more than I love comics and games. I understand that not everyone makes that choice, and I think going the other way has its own benefits. But no D&D movie yet has erred toward quality, and this one doesn’t seem to be making different choices.


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