Warcraft (film)

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Warcraft the Movie

This article or section contains information and lore exclusive to the Warcraft film universe, which is considered to be separate from the main Warcraft universe canon.

Warcraft
Warcraft movie poster.jpg
Official film poster
Directed by
Produced by
Written by
Music by
Cinematography
Editing by
Studio
Distributed by
Release dates(s)

2016-05-26 (opening)[1]
2016-06-10 (US)[2]

Running time

123 minutes

Country

United States

Language

English

Budget

$160 million[3] (production)
$110 million[4] (advertising)

Warcraft (released internationally as Warcraft: The Beginning)[5] is a 2016 fantasy epic film based on the Warcraft series and set on the world of Azeroth. It opened in more than 20 countries at the end of May 2016, and was released in the US on 10 June 2016.[2] It is rated PG-13.[6] The film's trailer made its debut on 6 November 2015 at BlizzCon 2015.[7] The film was shot over 123 days, from 20 January through 23 May 2014.[8]

Set in the era of the First War, the film stars Anduin Lothar of Stormwind and Durotan of the Frostwolf clan as heroes set on opposite sides of a growing war, as the warlock Gul'dan leads the Horde to invade Azeroth.

The film is set in an alternate version of the Warcraft universe, featuring well-known characters, locations and events, but with many differences from the history seen in the games and literature.

Summary

After turning Draenor into a barren land with the use of fel magic, Gul'dan creates a magical portal to lead the orcish Horde to a new world, using draenei prisoners as fuel for the gate's opening. A large war party of orc warriors pass through, with the intention of capturing humans to use as fuel to bring through the rest of the Horde.

Among the many fel-corrupted warriors are some who join the party only reluctantly, wishing no part in Gul'dan's dark magic but hoping nonetheless to find a new world. Among them are the warchief of the Frostwolf clan Durotan and his mate, the pregnant Draka. Draka is forced prematurely into labor by the passage through the Great Gate, but the baby is stillborn. Gul'dan siphons the life of a nearby deer and gives it to the newborn, saving its life but turning its skin green.

General Anduin Lothar is visiting the dwarven king Magni Bronzebeard when word reaches him of an attack on one of his kingdom's garrisons. Upon returning to Stormwind City, Lothar finds that Khadgar, a young mage, has been caught by the guards while searching the bodies of the victims. Questioned by Lothar, he explains that something called the fel is at work, but refuses to say more, saying only that the Guardian of Azeroth must be summoned. Reluctantly Lothar takes Khadgar to meet King Llane Wrynn. At first the king is skeptical, but as reports come in of more attacks on the kingdom's villages, he agrees, and sends Lothar to summon the Guardian.

Taking Khadgar with him, Lothar and the mage travel on gryphon to the home of the Guardian, the magical Tower of Karazhan. After greeting the castellan Moroes, Lothar meets with the reclusive Medivh, once a close friend but who has withdrawn into seclusion for the last several years. While the two discuss the situation, Khadgar explores the tower's extensive magical libraries. After spotting a strange, ethereal presence, the young mage is guided to a particular volume, and quickly hides it in his cloak before Medivh angrily discovers him. Seeing him as a usurper to his position, Medivh uses magic to pin Khadgar against the wall of the tower, but releases him when the mage mentions the fel. Questioned by Lothar, Medivh reluctantly explains that the fel is a dark and dangerous magic that offers great power, but exacts a terrible price. Accepting that he must indeed attend to the matter personally, Medivh teleports himself, Lothar and Khadgar to the throne room of Stormwind City, where they meet with the king.

While investigating an area corrupted by the fel, Lothar, Medivh, Kadghar and their band of soldiers are ambushed by a group of orcs, quickly overpowering the humans and killing many of their party. Lothar defends his son Callan, and fights with the warchief Blackhand, destroying his hand with a dwarven boomstick. Recovering from a strange trance, Medivh casts a spell that target the orcs corrupted by the fel magic, killing most of the orcs and leaving only Durotan, Blackhand, and another orc, who are still uncorrupted, to flee the scene. As Durotan rides away, he spots Gul'dan's slave Garona, and after a moment's hesitation severs her chain. Garona runs from the orc but is swiftly captured by Khadgar.

Returning to Stormwind, Lothar, King Llane and the others interrogate Garona, and discovering that she can speak some Common, having learned it from the humans taken prisoner by the Horde. She explains that the orcs are from another world, now dead, and will soon bring through the entirety of the Horde to take Azeroth as their own. The king promises to protect Garona in exchange for her help in freeing the human prisoners. Queen Taria Wrynn later visits Garona in her cell, and shows her compassion and kindness, offering to remove her chains and slave collar, and winning a little of her trust.

Blackhand is punished by Gul'dan for the failure of his raiding party, and sentenced to death. Blackhand accepts the punishment and thrusts his arm into the fel fire, but Durotan steps in, severing his arm and saving his life, blaming the fel for the party's failure.

Durotan and his second-in-command Orgrim Doomhammer grow increasingly concerned about the Horde's plans for Azeroth. Realising that the corruption that destroyed their home world is being spread by Gul'dan himself, Durotan decides that the only way to create a future for his family, his clan and the orc people is to overthrow Gul'dan. After Orgrim points out that their clan is too small to do this alone, Durotan proposes an alliance with the humans.

Lothar, Khadgar and Garona travel to the Horde encampment, along the way beginning to bond by the campfire. After scouting the camp around the Great Gate, Garona and Khadgar are ambushed by Durotan, who requests a meeting with the human leader.

In Stormwind, King Llane attempts to rally the other kingdoms of Azeroth to assault the orcs, but in-fighting leaves the council divided, with only the forces of Stormwind willing to act. Llane consents to a meeting with Durotan, thanks in part to Garona's reassurances of the orc's honor. Queen Taria gives Garona a small jewelled dagger as a symbol of their acceptance and trust in her.

Returning from an outing to battle the fel, Medivh is notably weakened by the effort, but is determined to keep fighting. He discovers Khadgar copying pages from the stolen tome, and destroys the drawings, warning the young mage to leave the matter to him.

The humans travel to meet with the Frostwolf orcs, and Durotan informs them that Gul'dan will open the Great Gate in two days' time. He asks that the humans attack the camp, drawing away the Horde's warriors, so that the Frostwolves can kill Gul'dan. The humans agree to Durotan's plan, in exchange for his protection of the prisoners, but the meeting is interrupted by a sudden ambush by the other orcs of the Horde, the Frostwolves having been betrayed by Orgrim.

The humans and orcs battle. Khadgar saves Garona's life, who in turn saves the king's life. Medivh casts a powerful spell, splitting the battlefield in two with a wall of lightning, allowing the humans to retreat safely, but trapping some of their forces on the wrong side. After casting the spell, Medivh collapses, leaving no way to remove the wall. Among the soldiers trapped on the orcs' side is Lothar's son Callan. Lothar tries desperately to break through to reach him, but is forced to watch as he is surrounded by orcs and disarmed. Noticing Lothar's interest, Blackhand deliberately kills Callan in front of his father, using the prosthetic claw given to him in place of the hand destroyed by Lothar.

Khadgar and Garona return Medivh to Karazhan. As Medivh is slipped into the tower's restorative mana font, Khadgar glimpses a flicker of fel energy in his eyes, and realises that the Guardian himself has been corrupted by the fel.

Back at the orc camp, Blackhand seizes Durotan. Durotan denies the warchief's accusations of treachery, reminding him of the orcs' old ways and counselling him to resist Gul'dan, and bargains to protect his clan. Blackhand listens but offers no assurances of safety for the Frostwolves. Durotan names his infant son Go'el, before he is led away.

A revived Medivh awakens to finds himself nursed by Garona. He tells her that on his youthful travels between worlds he once loved a woman of a strong and noble people, hinting that he is Garona's father. Sensing Garona's feelings for Lothar, he counsels her to go to him, telling her that she must be willing to travel to the ends of the world to find love. Medivh teleports Garona to Stormwind, and then collapses. Garona finds Lothar grieving the death of his son, and comforts him.

Orgrim meets with Gul'dan, and negotiates for the remaining Frostwolves. Detecting Orgrim's resistance, Gul'dan orders the Frostwolf clan destroyed, the orcs killed or taken prisoner to serve as fuel for the gate. Orgrim rushes to save Draka and Go'el, helping them escape the camp.

Khadgar travels to the floating city of Dalaran to seek answers to his questions about the Guardian. Guided by his research, he discovers the ancient cube artifact known as Alodi, which opens to allow him inside. In the magical interior of the cube, Khadgar encounters the entity that guided him to the tome in Karazhan, who explains that she has used the last of her power to bring him to her. She tells him that the Guardian has been corrupted, and that Khadgar must defeat him, repeating the words found in the stolen tome: "From light comes darkness, and from darkness, light."

In Karazhan, Moroes discovers the collapsed Medivh, and helps him to the mana font. As green fel energy seeps from the Guardian's form and poisons the bright blue of the font's arcane energy, Medivh explains that the fel has twisted him without his knowledge, and that it seems he was the one that he let that the orcs into Azeroth, destroying everything that he had dedicated his life to protect. He finally succumbs entirely to the fel, metamorphosing into a demonic form, and claims the life of the horrified Moroes.

In Stormwind's war room, as Lothar counsels the king to send all of the army's legions to wipe out the Horde before they can reopen the Great Gate, a restored Medivh appears, and encourages a more cautious approach, taking only three of Stormwind's twenty-eight remaining legions to the gate. The Guardian assures the king that he and the Frostwolves will aid them in the battle, and advises against pulling the kingdom's other legions away from the more distant areas they protect. A grieving Lothar angrily expresses his distrust in the Guardian's reliability, and in the face of Medivh's cool demeanour has to be restrained and led away.

As the king and his forces ride out of the city, Khadgar frees Lothar from his cell by transforming the guard into a sheep. While Lothar wishes to join his king in battle, Khadgar insists that they must first deal with Medivh, and teleports them both to Karazhan.

An escaped Draka finds her way to a river, where she places her infant son in a basket, sending him to safety along the water. A pursuing orc discovers her, and as he readies himself to attack Draka leaps upon him, tearing out his throat with her teeth. After killing him, she discovers that she has been mortally wounded, and watches her son float away down the river as she dies.

Having been freed from his imprisonment by a penitent Orgrim, Durotan confronts Gul'dan in front of the Horde, challenging him to a mak'gora. Blackhand offers to kill the outcast, but Gul'dan accepts the challenge. Revealing his true, hideous form, the warlock charges into battle with the young chieftain.

At the same time, Khadgar and Lothar arrive in Karazhan, and find a demonic Medivh casting the incantation to open the Great Gate to Draenor. Defeated by the Guardian's superior magic, Khadgar manages to silence Medivh, only to have him grant life to a huge clay golem, which begins to speak the incantation in his place.

Back in the orc camp, Gul'dan and Durotan continue their battle. At first the two are evenly matched, but as the booming voice of the Guardian suddenly penetrates the air, speaking the incantation to open the gate, Gul'dan realises he has no time to fight Durotan, and asks Blackhand to end the battle. Blackhand, spurred by talk of tradition amidst their strange surroundings, refuses the warchief, insisting that the mak'gora be honored. Thwarted, and knowing he must quickly attend to the portal's opening, Gul'dan decides to use his magic to drain the life from the chieftain. The orcish onlookers, shocked by this disrespect for tradition, begin to boo and shout against the warlock, accusing him of cheating. Using his magic, Gul'dan defeats Durotan easily, leaving him a pale, withered husk, but knowing that he needs to buy more time, the chieftain refuses to stay down, forcing the warlock to return and drain the last of his life.

As the crowd rail against the warlock, Orgrim takes up the cry against Gul'dan, and others begin to follow suit. Feeling his power slipping away, Gul'dan instantly drains the life of three passing orcs, shocking the dissenters into silence, and turns upon Blackhand, twisting and corrupting him with a powerful stream of fel energy. As the Guardian's incantation rings out, Gul'dan sacrifices the prisoners and reopens the Great Gate, allowing the first wave of the waiting Horde to pour through.

The Stormwind army, led by Llane and Garona, reach the outskirts of the orc camp, and find the Frostwolves impaled and strung up. Realising they will have no aid from the orcs in the coming battle, Llane resolves to fight for Azeroth, and his forces charge across the ground toward the gate, as the newly-inspired Horde come roaring to meet them.

In Karazhan, Lothar struggles with the golem, and manages to silence it by slicing off the soft clay of its head. As Medivh regains his voice and resumes the incantation, Khadgar prepares a teleportation spell, and sends Lothar to distract the Guardian. Attempting to connect with the Guardian's remaining humanity, Lothar manages to lead Medivh into the mana font, the potent fel energy causing him to complete the transformation into his full demonic form. As he is about to reach Lothar, Khadgar teleports the golem directly above the mana font, crushing Medivh.

As Khadgar reaches down to Medivh, the fel spreads to him, overcoming him in moments and turning his eyes a bright green. Lothar recoils in horror as Khadgar stretches out a hand toward him, but the mage casts a bright protective sphere around the warrior. Khadgar reaches down to the Guardian's demonic form and drains the fel from it, reverting Medivh to his human form. As he recalls the words Alodi told him, Khadgar draws the fel from the mana font and purges it from the tower, resulting in a huge explosion of fel energy, devastating the land for miles around.

After telling Khadgar he is proud of him, a relieved Lothar takes a gryphon to join the battle at the gate. Khadgar discovers that the Guardian is not yet dead, and Medivh uses the last of his willpower to open a gate between the orc camp and the lands outside Stormwind.

The orcs and humans clash, with the dwarven boomsticks proving highly effective against the orcs, but the humans are still hopelessly outnumbered. Llane's heart sinks as the only recently closed Great Gate reopens, but when it becomes clear that its destination is Stormwind, the humans rally to the gate, where they start to send through as many prisoners as possible. Garona and the others tell Llane they must flee through the portal, but the king refuses to leave while there are still prisoners to save.

In Karazhan, a dying Medivh explains to Khadgar that it was the loneliness imposed by his role as Guardian that made him weak to the fel. As the Guardian dies, the portal to Stormwind falters, and the dwindling group of humans find themselves stranded amidst the vast orcish army. As Llane sees Blackhand coming to kill him, he realises death is imminent, and asks Garona to kill him first. Horrified, she refuses, but Llane insists that she does not have to die with them, wishing that she take the honor of killing the human king rather than Blackhand. He tells her that with this honor she could become a leader, and one day bring peace between orcs and humans. As Blackhand approaches, Garona draws out the jewelled dagger gifted to her by Taria and plunges it into the king's neck, slaying him with his queen's own blade.

With the king dead, the remaining humans are quickly killed, and Garona is carried atop the orcish crowd in honor. Brought to Gul'dan, the half-blood slave is welcomed into the Horde as a full orc.

Riding upon his gryphon, Lothar swoops down upon the celebrating orcs. Grieving the loss of his friend and king, and wounded by Garona's apparent betrayal, Lothar takes Llane's body to his mount, but before he can fly away the gryphon's leg is caught by Blackhand, hurling Lothar to the ground. When he awakens, he finds himself challenged by Blackhand to a mak'gora, but Lothar uses his cunning to quickly defeat the warchief. Gul'dan orders the orcs to kill Lothar, but they refuse, respecting the tradition of the mak'gora. Honoring Lothar's victory, they allow him to leave with Llane's body. Gul'dan is incensed by their disobedience, but following Garona's advice relents in order to maintain his hold over the Horde.

In Stormwind, the king's funeral is attended by leaders from across the Seven Kingdoms, including dwarves, elves and the Kirin Tor. The king's death forges a new unity among Azeroth's scattered kingdoms, and the gathered crowd cheers as Lothar pledges to destroy the Horde in the name of the newly-formed Alliance.

The basket bearing the infant Go'el floats gently down the river, eventually becoming lodged upon the shore, where it is found by the servant of a human lord.

Literature

A prequel comic written by Paul Cornell and illustrated by Mat Broome titled Warcraft: Bonds of Brotherhood was released on 7 June, 2016.[9] A pair of tie-in novels written by Christie Golden, Warcraft: Durotan and Warcraft: The Official Movie Novelization, were released on May 3, 2016 and 7 June, 2016.[10] Warcraft: Behind the Dark Portal, a behind-the-scenes book by Daniel Wallace, was also published on 7 June, 2016.

Cast and crew

Cast

The following tables show the full cast of the movie:[11]

Main
Name Character Role Affiliation
Ben Foster  Medivh[12] Guardian of Azeroth Kirin Tor
Travis Fimmel  Anduin Lothar[13][14] General of the Azeroth Army Alliance, Kingdom of Stormwind
Dominic Cooper  Llane Wrynn[13] King of Stormwind Kingdom of Stormwind
Paula Patton  Garona Halforcen[12] Gul'dan's slave Horde
Toby Kebbell[12]  Durotan[15] Chieftain of the Frostwolf clan Horde, Frostwolf clan
Robert Kazinsky[12]  Orgrim Doomhammer[15] Durotan's second-in-command Horde, Frostwolf clan
Daniel Wu[12]  Gul'dan[15] Founder of the Horde Horde
Clancy Brown[12]  Blackhand[15] General of the Horde Horde, Blackrock clan
Ben Schnetzer  Khadgar[15] Former student of the Kirin Tor, Apprentice to Medivh Alliance. Formerly: Kirin Tor
Ruth Negga  Taria Wrynn[15] Queen of Stormwind Alliance, Kingdom of Stormwind
Anna Galvin  Draka[15] Durotan's mate Horde, Frostwolf clan
Minor
Name Character Role Affiliation
Callum Keith Rennie  Moroes Servant of Medivh Kirin Tor
Terry Notary  Grommash Hellscream Chieftain of the Warsong clan Horde, Warsong clan
Unknown  Kargath Bladefist Chieftain of the Shattered Hand clan Horde, Shattered Hand clan
Dylan Schombing  Varian Wrynn Prince of Stormwind Alliance, Kingdom of Stormwind
AI  Go'el Durotan and Draka's son Frostwolf clan
Burkely Duffield  Callan Lothar Lothar's son, Soldier of Stormwind Kingdom of Stormwind
Anna Van Hooft  Aloman Soldier of Stormwind Kingdom of Stormwind
Dean Redman  Varis Soldier of Stormwind Kingdom of Stormwind
Ryan Robbins  Karos Soldier of Stormwind Kingdom of Stormwind
Toby Kebbell  Antonidas Medivh's teacher Alliance, Kirin Tor
Glenn Close[16] (uncredited)  Alodi Former Guardian of Azeroth Kirin Tor
Michael Adamthwaite  Magni Bronzebeard King of Ironforge Alliance, Kingdom of Khaz Modan
Eugene Lipinski  Finden Kirin Tor
Dean Redman  Caged Frostwolf Frostwolf clan
Elena Wurlitzer  Draenei Mother
Chris Metzen Perfume merchant (cameo) Kingdom of Stormwind

Crew

  • Executive Producer - Stuart Fenegan[18]
  • Co-Producer - Chris Metzen[19]
  • Producer - Charles Roven[18]
  • Producer - Alex Gartner[18]
  • Producer - Thomas Tull[18]
  • Producer - Jon Jashni[18]
  • Writer - Charles Leavitt[18]
  • Visual Effects Supervisor - Bill Westenhofer[20]
  • Score Composer - Ramin Djawadi[21]

Locations

  • Azeroth
    • Black Morass
    • Dalaran
    • Hillsbrad Foothills
    • Deadwind Pass
    • Burning Steppes
    • Dun Morogh
      • Ironforge
    • Elwynn Forest
      • Stormwind City
      • Goldshire
    • Redridge Mountains
      • Lakeshire
      • Stonewatch Keep
    • Brightwood/Duskwood
      • Grand Hamlet
    • Westfall
  • Draenor

Development

Blizzard first began talking with Legendary Pictures about the possibility of a Warcraft film more than ten years before the film would eventually release, in May 2016.[22]

In a 9 May 2006 press release, Blizzard Entertainment and Legendary Pictures (makers of Batman Begins and 300) announced that they would develop a live-action film set in the Warcraft universe. Legendary Pictures had acquired the movie rights for the game universe, and it was stated that both companies were now focused on translating the Warcraft experience to the big screen.[23][24][25] Further details about the movie were revealed at BlizzCon 2007.[26][27]

On 22 July 2009, Blizzard Entertainment announced that Sam Raimi would become the Warcraft movie director. Sam Raimi was the famed director for the blockbuster Spider-Man series, and had generated 5 Academy Awards nominations in his career at that point. Raimi also wrote and directed the cult classic The Evil Dead and its two sequels, produced 30 Days of Night, and wrote and directed the thriller Drag Me To Hell. In addition to film, Raimi's television credits included producing such fantasy series as Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.[19] The live-action film was set for release in 2009, but was later rescheduled to 2011.[28]

Uwe Boll attempted to apply for the job of director, from which Blizzard CEO Paul Sams replied "We will not sell the movie rights, not to you…especially not to you."[29]

IMDB stated that the manuscript writer would be Chris Metzen. (Jesse Wigutow was mentioned, but had been removed).[30] IMDB information on pre-release movies should be taken as suspect, though. IMDB generally only removes false information if someone reports it. Mike Morhaime stated in February 2009 that there was a draft script.[31] Chris Metzen mentioned that the film would be action-packed and violent, stating "We're definitely not going to make a G or a PG version of this. It's not PillowfightCraft."[27]

During Blizzcon 2010, Chris Metzen said that they had the story ready, that Raimi and his team had agreed to it and that Blizzard was just "waiting for the big green light in the sky". Nethaera said in March 2012 that "It's still on the radar. We just don't have any current updates to provide."[32]

During Comic Con 2012 Sam Raimi confirmed that he would not be directing the Warcraft film, due to his unavailability. "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," Raimi said. "They had to start making it."[33] Later Raimi explained that he and Robert Rodat were working on the script for a long time. He read a screenplay written by Blizzard, and it didn't quite work for him. Raimi told them he wanted to make his original story with Robert, so they pitched it to Legendary and they accepted it, and then they pitched it to Blizzard, and they had reservations, but they accepted it. After Robert wrote the screenplay, they realized that Blizzard had veto power. Blizzard didn't approve this story, and they wanted to go a different way.[34]

On 2 August 2012 the studio announced that they had hired writer Charles Leavitt to pen the screenplay. Leavitt had already written one fantasy film for Legendary, The Seventh Son, then due for release in October 2013. Meanwhile, Activision Blizzard President Bobby Kotick, who had thus far been hesitant about adapting his company's games into movies, issued a statement saying that if it's "important to Blizzard, it's important to me. They're very excited about having a World of Warcraft film," Kotick told Variety, continuing, "They've been very careful and thoughtful about the development process... I just think [Legendary founder and CEO] Thomas Tull has such a great track record. If there's someone we want to do business with, he's at the top of the list."[35]

On 30 January 2013, Duncan Jones—director of Source Code and Moon—was announced as the new director.[17] Jones had not been approached by the developers, but as a fan of the franchise had actually "reached out" to them after hearing of Raimi's departure.[36] Jones pitched his fresh take on the film, which was well received, and he was brought on board as the new director.[36]

Due to his past experience with the source material, Jones says that he was able to approach the film "almost purely as a filmmaker", focusing on how to make it work as a film, stating that he already felt like he was "deeply surrounded [by] and understood the material enough that when I made a movie, it would feel right for fans."[36]

In May 2013 producer Charles Roven told Slash Film that Warcraft was planned to shoot in early 2014. "First quarter 2014 we're going to shoot that movie."[37]

Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros ended their partnership on 24 June 2013, but the film was not expected to suffer delays from the situation.[38] Thomas Tull, CEO of Legendary and producer of the movie, mentioned on 1 July 2013 that the script was not finished yet, because they "absolutely don't want to screw it up", a reference to that most movies based on video games have poor reviews.[39]

A teaser for the film was shown at San Diego Comic-Con on 20 July 2013.[40] In August 2013, it was announced that Legendary Pictures would present the film to Universal Studios in the upcoming months. It would be up to Universal whether the film would be distributed.[41] It was announced later in the month that filming would begin in January of the following year.[42] Much of the film's production was to take place in Vancouver.[43]

Casting started in late September 2013, with Colin Farrell and Paula Patton offered lead roles,[44] and with Paul Dano, Anton Yelchin, Travis Fimmel, and Anson Mount in talks for other roles.[45]

On 1 October 2013 a release date for the movie was announced: 18 December 2015.[46] However, by 2014 this had been scrapped due to conflicts with Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, and the film was moved to a March 11, 2016 release.[47] In April 2015 this was in turn cancelled due to further challenging scheduling, with the film finally being released in May (international)/June (US) 2016.[48]

During BlizzCon 2013 concept artwork of Draenor, Ironforge, Dalaran, and Stormwind City was shown, implying they would all may make at least some sort of appearance.[49] Lion's Pride Inn and Elwynn Forest will appear.[6] A piece of concept art depicting the construction of the Great Gate in the wastes of Tanaan was later given to a fan at San Diego Comic Con 2014.[13]

Chris Metzen compared the film to Marvel Comics' Ultimate line, in that the broad story was what fans know and love but the details were different[49] (the Ultimate line comics have their own canon independent of the core Marvel universe)[50] so therefore the film continuity (the film and its literature) is separate.[51][52]

On 9 November 2013, during the 2nd day of BlizzCon 2013 there was a full hour panel featuring director Duncan Jones along with Chris Metzen and Rob Pardo about the movie.[53][54]

On 4 December 2013, Legendary Pictures made a cast reveal: Ben Foster, Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Toby Kebbell and Robert Kazinsky would star in the movie.[12] On 19 December 2013, it was revealed that Daniel Wu and Clancy Brown would join the cast.[55]

Plot development

Early development

The film was originally set in the era of Warcraft: Orcs and Humans. This was scrapped, however, as there were notions that it would be too similar to Lord of the Rings and that Warcraft had reached its current level of popularity through its MMORPG, rather than the previous RTS games.[26]

The movie was later said to be set one year prior to World of Warcraft, primarily told from the Alliance's point of view. Characters such as Cairne Bloodhoof, Thrall, Sylvanas Windrunner, and Bolvar Fordragon would be likely to make appearances.[26] At BlizzCon 2007, Chris Metzen said that the main character was set to be a new hero described as a "kick-ass Human" and an "Anti-Thrall",[56][57] but not Varian Wrynn.[58]
Metzen also stated clearly that lore would be bent for the sake of the film.[57]

Concept art of Teldrassil was released in relation to the film, hinting that at least some of the film takes place there, and perhaps by extension, in Darnassus.

Following the departure of Raimi in 2013, new director Jones presented a new take on the film, its storyline and characters. Jones states that "From the moment I first talked to Blizzard, the plan was to start our film with the first time Orcs met Humans", saying that he felt it a wise choice for "a world with so much newness to explain", especially with so many viewers likely having no prior knowledge of the franchise.[59]

Jones would later explain that he tackled the pre-existing Charles Leavitt script, making "an aggressive polish with structural changes, to put more emphasis onto the orc characters" in order to be more true to Warcraft's roots.[60] As a result a one-sided battle against the orcs was replaced with a more even-handed approach, later described as a war story, but one told from the viewpoints of both sides.[6]

BlizzCon 2013

BlizzCon 2013 featured an entire panel on the movie. They revealed that the story was going to be around the time of Warcraft 1, and that the focus was going to be on Anduin Lothar and Durotan, as they felt it was important to portray both the Alliance and Horde. The two were chosen because they both represent the ideals of their races.[49] Concept art was shown of Dalaran, Stormwind, Ironforge, and Draenor.[54]

BlizzCon 2014

BlizzCon 2014 featured a movie panel. It was stated that the film had been moved from the World of Warcraft timeframe to that of the first game, due to the abundance of storylines and characters in the former, and how difficult it would be to translate them into film format.[61]

Production

The June to November period of 2013 was focused on pre-production. Half the cast is live-action actors and the other half are motion-capture technology based actors. Real costumes will be crafted for the actors performing with motion-capture technology to have photographic references for the animations. Physical props will be used in the case of Elwynn Forest and the weapons used by human characters.[6] Duncan Jones has likened the film's use of CGI as being "somewhere between Planet of the Apes, Fellowship of the Ring and Avatar.[62]

Production of the film was documented as it progressed, eventually culminating in the behind the scenes book Warcraft: Behind the Dark Portal.

The music of the film is designed to be true to the game series' soundtracks.

The Orcish language was developed for the movie by a linguist who also worked on the Lord of the Rings film trilogy and Avatar.[6]

Post-production was handled by Industrial Light and Magic.[63] At the start of post-production, ILM had to work on over 1000 visual effects. By May 2015, 50 remained.[64]

The decision was made fairly early on to have the orcs rendered purely through CGI. After discussing the role the orcs would play in the film with VFX supervisor Bill Westenhofer, Jones went to speak with ILM, one of the only studios considered capable of producing the high level of detail required for the orcs' extended close ups and convincing character depictions. At ILM Jones met with Jeff White and Jason Smith who introduced him to "the next generation of facial capture technology", which Jones immediately realised met the film's needs exceptionally well. Jones was further reassured by the fact that Westenhofer, White and Smith were all Warcraft fans, making the team "a perfect fit".[65]

Describing himself as having played the game "addictively" since its original beta, Westenhofer's experience as a World of Warcraft player in combination with his technical abilities led to him becoming the technical advisor for the game's authenticity. Westenhofer states, "Whenever we needed to talk about something I could log on and show Duncan and say, 'Well, here’s what Stormwind looks like in the game,' for example."[66]

Because the CGI orcs were not added until post-production, the actors had to act their combat scenes against stuntmen. With the orcs in the film ranging from around 6'6 to 7'2,[67] Jones specifically recruited "giant" stuntmen to stand in for the massive orcs, providing the actors with "intimidating" opponents during their scenes.[65] In some cases even the giant stuntmen were not tall enough, and it was necessary to put an eyeline target on top of a stuntman's helmet.[68]

Weta Workshop carried out work on physical props and costumes for the film. 84 full suits of armor were produced for Stormwind's royal guard, along with hundreds of weapons and shields. Specific pieces of armor and weapons were created for major characters, including King Llane. The weapons were created through a combination of steel and lightweight materials.[69] The armor was designed based on artwork received from Blizzard, and rendered via 3D modeling.[70]

Blizzard artists, such as Wei Wang, contributed over 4,000 art pieces for the film.[6] Collaboration existed, in that ILM took photos and scans of the actors playing orcs, and forwarded them onto Blizzard. Blizzard provided concept art based on these images as to how the orcs should look. The concept art subsequently formed the basis of the 3D effects.[64]

Warcraft was by far Jones' highest-budget film to date, with its $160M budget dwarfing the $28M budget for Source Code and the $5M budget for Moon.[71][72]

Future productions

In 2013 the producers shared hopes for a TV series in the same vein as Game of Thrones if the film was successful.[6]

The producers stated in 2015 that if the film was a success they would be excited to continue the story. A trilogy hasn't been ruled out. Metzen has teased many trilogies if they put their mind to it.[6] Jones has mentioned the possibility of an additional two films as well.[73]

In 2016 Jones stated that he and Metzen had "discussed in very loose term what the trilogy will be", but reiterated that the possibility of sequels would depend on the film's success.[74]

Lore differences

Main article: Warcraft film universe#Lore differences

While firmly set in the Warcraft universe in the period of the opening of the Dark Portal, the film deviates from official lore in numerous areas, some critical. For lore purposes the film is considered to take place in its own version of the Warcraft universe,[51] closely related to the one seen in the games and other canon sources, but with a number of differences.

For a list and discussion of the differences between the film universe and the main universe, see Warcraft film universe. For a list of differences between the film and its official novelization, see Differences from the film.

Reception

Warcraft opened to highly negative critical reviews.[75] While a few critics praised the film for its depth and emotional engagement,[76][77] most panned the film for a number of reasons, ranging from excessive detail, a rushed pace, and too many characters, to negative comparisons with Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones.[78][79][80][81] The film was widely criticised as another example of a failed attempt at a video game-inspired movie, with little appeal except to fans, although some reviewers suggested even fans of the series would be disappointed by the offering.[82][83] The film holds a critics rating of 28% on Rotten Tomatoes, up from a one-time low of 16%,[84][85] while Metacritic's weighted assessment of critical opinion gives the film 32/100, indicating "Generally Unfavorable Reviews".

In contrast, the film's initial box office performances were highly successful, opening in the #1 slot in 19 of 20 territories during its opening weekend,[86] and in 45 out of 51 territories as of its third week.[87] Ratings from cinema-goers were also far more favourable than those from critics. IMDB reports a 7.3/10 score, based on over 110,000 viewer ratings,[30] Rotten Tomatoes' audience rating gives the film 77% approval, based on over 50,000 viewers,[84] and the Chinese online review site Douban lists an average 7.9/10 score, based on more than 130,000 viewer ratings.[88] Offline, CinemaScore's opening night exit polls reported a B+ score for the film in the US,[89] while PostTrak's audience polls from the US opening reported a 78% positive result, with 56% "definite thumbs up".[4] Audience ratings have cooled as scores from non-fans watered down the initially fan-dominated numbers, but remain notably at odds with critical opinion.

The film's performance in international markets was strong,[90][91] with sales reaching more than $160M (excluding China) by the end of the film's box office run. The film found its strongest opening weekend reception in Russia and Germany, followed by France, and set records in some European countries.[87] Coming three weeks later, US performance was widely predicted to be a flop (due in part to stiff competition),[92] and despite a second place opening weekend scored only $47M in cinemas, adding up to a very poor American outing.[93] The film performed extremely well in China.[94] Ticket presales had already amounted to nearly $21M two days before the film's release, with its first two days of screenings amounting to $92M in ticket sales, making it the first film ever to gross RMB 300M two days in a row, as well as the fastest international film to top RMB 900M (stealing both records from Furious 7).[95] The film dominated with 81% of the market on its second day, showing on 67.5% of all movie screens across China,[95][96][97] and also broke records for the the fasted film to earn RMB 1B,[98] the biggest weekend for an international film,[85] biggest Thursday box office numbers of all time, and several records for IMAX including the biggest presales ($8.2M), midnight run ($1.4M) and opening day gross ($5.3M).[96][98] It claimed only the second biggest midnight and one-day totals, behind Furious 7, although it broke the record for the biggest non-weekend opening day (Furious 7 having opened on a Sunday).[95] The film's five-day opening run in China took around $156M.[85][99]

As of July 28, the global box office total stands at $433M,[100] with around $47M from the US, $221M from China, and $165M from other international territories,[101] making a 51% contribution from China, and just less than an 11% contribution from the US market. The film has all but finished its run in cinemas, although its DVD release starting in September may add to its overall earnings. The film had a budget of $160M and press and marketing outlay of $110M, but due to the nature of the film industry,[102] is estimated to require $450-500M in order to break even.[4] A net loss of $15-40M is predicted, although some sources say the deficit will be smaller, due to special arrangements in China for merchandising and digital rights.[103] The film was the ninth highest-grossing film of 2016 following its worldwide release in mid-June 2016, but by July had been pushed down to tenth place by a soaring Finding Dory.[104] The film has stolen the title of most successful video game film of all time, with the previous record holder, Prince of Persia, standing at only $336M.[105][106] It is also the first film based on a video game ever to reach a global total of $400M,[107] and only the third video game film (just behind the almost simultaneously-released The Angry Birds Movie) to break $300M.[108] Overall the film achieved unprecedented box office success for a video game movie, but only moderate success in the larger scale, and failed to recoup its substantial outlay.

The film's success in China is believed to be due in part to the strong popularity of the Warcraft franchise in the country, which is estimated to be home to half of all World of Warcraft players in the world.[109] As a result China was predicted to be a key market in determining the commercial success or failure of the film, and therefore the likelihood of a sequel being produced.[109] The unprecedented disparity between the film's US and Chinese success[110] has inspired widespread commentary about the developing balance of power in cinema,[111][112] with some stating that Warcraft could be the film that proves the validity of aiming for success in China over success in the US, currently still the world's biggest cinema market.[113][114][115] Some commentators have even speculated about the possibility of a sequel not even releasing in the US, instead focusing on China and international markets.[116] Warcraft has been widely compared to Pacific Rim, which also saw a very strong response in China, and thus managed to secure a sequel, despite its failure in the US.[115]

Premiere

The film's global premiere in Hollywood

The film's global premiere was held 6 June, 2016, at The Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, four days before the release of the film in the US. The event was streamed on the official Twitch channel, where it was presented by Michele Morrow and Jesse Cox.

The premiere was attended by numerous cast members and crew including Toby Kebbel, Paula Patton, Rob Kazinsky, Ben Schnetzer, Daniel Wu, Clancy Brown and Duncan Jones. Numerous Blizzard personnel were invited to the screening, including Warcraft developers such as Mike Morhaime, Ion Hazzikostas, J. Allen Brack, Tom Chilton and Rob Pardo, and those from other games such as Hearthstone's Bob Fitch.[117] Several noted Warcraft streamers and fansite personnel were also invited, including Bajheera, Perculia and TradeChat. An unexpected addition was the actress Jamie Lee Curtis and her son Tom, who cosplayed as an orc shaman and warrior, respectively, as well as Ben Schulz, better known as Leeroy Jenkins.

An official highlight selection from the premiere stream can be found here.

Blizzard screenings

While only limited numbers of Blizzard employees were invited to the official premiere, an "exclusive employee screening" was held on 8 June, at the Irvine Spectrum Theatre, which director Duncan Jones also attended.[118][119]

Promotions

The Alliance items
The Horde items

Free game and game time

Purchasing a ticket for the film at certain cinemas in certain countries will grant a free digital copy of World of Warcraft, and in many cases an additional 30 days of game time. Those purchasing the tickets are given a card with a code which can be redeemed on the official site to unlock the free copy.[120] These promotions are time-limited.

Countries with cinemas participating in the promotion include the United States, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.[121]

In-game items

Players logging in to the game between 24 May and 1 August, 2016 will be awarded four unique transmogrification items depicting gear from the film.[122] Each item is restricted by both faction and race. Alliance characters can use the  [Replica Lion's Fang] (sword) and  [Replica Lion's Heart] (shield), while Horde characters can use the  [Replica Blood Guard's Cleaver] (axe) and  [Replica Staff of Gul'dan] (staff).

Lion's Fang depicts Anduin Lothar's Dragonsword, while Blood Guard's Cleaver depicts Durotan's Sever, and the Staff of Gul'dan of course depicts Gul'dan's staff.

The items corresponding to the current faction will be mailed to the first Alliance and Horde characters to log on for each account,[123] contained in the  [Alliance Strongbox] and  [Horde Strongbox], respectively.

Logging in during this period will also earn the Alliance [Fight for the Alliance]/Horde [Fight for the Horde] achievements.

Notes

  • Jones hopes to direct one or more sequels to the film,[124][125] having already discussed future storylines and a possible trilogy with Chris Metzen, but says this will depend on how well the film performs. Jones says he is "desperate to do Taurens" if he gets the chance.[126]
  • Jones stated that an extended edition of the film is a possibility, but depends on the film's performance.[127][128] Footage that ended up "on the cutting room floor" includes more from Queen Taria[129] and Aloman,[130] and backstory to why Blackhand was not given the fel along with many other orcs prior to the start of the film.[131] Jones has stated that the DVD will not include an extended cut.[132][133]
  • On July 28 Jones stated that a director's cut was "just not possible", ending fan speculation.[134]
  • The DVD of the film will include several extra scenes.[135][136] One scene features a young Khadgar,[137] while another from early in the film features orcs running through snow,[138] likely depicting the Frostwolves prior to their journey to the Great Gate. A smaller addition is a minstrel Chesney Hawkes, performing a medieval version of his song The One and Only.[139] The song was a 90s hit in the UK, and has been subtly featured by Jones in each film he has directed to date.
  • Jones describes the overall timespan of the events in the film as "very short", but more than 2 days.[140]
  • When asked whether he had final say on the cut, Jones replied, "story for another time...",[141] suggesting he was not the only one involved in the decision. Universal, Legendary and Blizzard have been cited as sources of directorial pressure in the past.[60]

Trivia

  • Easter eggs referencing the film will be placed inside the World of Warcraft game series.[6]
  • The direction for the scene with the mak'gora between Lothar and Blackhand was specifically a tribute to the duel between Charles Bronson and Henry Fonda in the classic Sergio Leone spaghetti western Once Upon a Time in the West.[142]
"MRGRGLRLGLRGLLL!"
  • The murloc seen as the party cross the bridge in Goldshire is calling in response to another, unseen murloc.[143] Both calls can be heard in the film, but the former happens before the murloc appears on screen.[144]
  • The murloc was added by Visual Effects Supervisor and World of Warcraft player Bill Westenhofer, after he and Jones decided there should be a murloc somewhere in the film. Westenhofer explains that this decision was made at a point at which they were trying to fit the film to its already considerable budget, and consequently rather than pass the idea to ILM (who provided the rest of the film's CGI) he decided to create and animate the murloc himself using the Blender and After Effects software, based on a model supplied by Blizzard.[66]
  • The corpse recovered from the orcs' initial attack (and later inspected by Khadgar and Lothar) was created by Adrien Morot and his team from Montreal.[145] Jones asked him to "make him look like a glowing Xiaolongbao".[145] The movement was "straight up puppetry", with no CGI.[146]
  • The scene in which Medivh causes Khadgar's writings to combust in flames was achieved through a practical effect rather than CGI.[147]
  • Universal Pictures chose not to give permission for their logo to be featured in modified form at the start of the film, as often seen in many other Universal productions,[148] despite the film makers' "multiple appeals and arguments".[149]
  • Clancy Brown, who plays Blackhand, previously worked on the Warcraft franchise in the canceled game Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans, where he voiced Thrall.[150]

Gallery

Press

Actors

Behind the scenes character posters

Global premiere

Production

Promotions

Videos

References

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External links

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