The 'Warcraft' Trilogy That Never Was: Director Duncan Jones Reveals Planned Story Arc

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Warcraft hit theaters back in 2016, and it didn't arrive with much fanfare. The Legendary Pictures film only managed to get a 27% on Rotten Tomatoes, and it only made $47 million domestically. Granted, the movie made another $386 million around the globe, but for a movie that cost around $160 million to make, that's not exactly enough to warrant a major franchise. That's unfortunate, because director Duncan Jones had a significant story arc planned for the video game movie series, and he recently talked about what we would have seen in a planned Warcraft movie trilogy.

Jones recently sat down with Collider to talk about the 4K Ultra HD release of his sci-fi movie Moon (available now), and conversation turned to his work on Warcraft. You might not realize this, but Duncan Jones simply making Warcraft was kind of a miracle when you remember exactly how many times that movie jumped around to different studios. Jones talked about transitioning from working on Warcraft to developing Mute for Netflix, and that's when he dug into the craziness of making the movie:

"I had just spent three and a half years working on not just one studio film but a film which went through multiple studios. So it was an absolute... The essence of studio filmmaking. I got a chance to experience multiple studios' takes on what a film of this size should be on one movie because...originally, we were Warner Bros. I was working with Atlas. I was working with Universal. I was working with Legendary. I was working with Blizzard. And obviously Blizzard were very passionate about what film should be because they are who had been with the game for so long and they didn't want to detract from that. So there were more points as to what the film needed to be. And then Legendary was bought by Wanda while we were making the movie. So it was a unique moment in time for experiencing what kind of craziness studio filmmaking could be."

It sounds like too many cooks in the kitchen was perhaps a big reason why Warcraft felt simultaneously too epic for a two-hour movie, but too long for its own good. It's an odd feeling to watch a movie where you want to spend more time in this high fantasy world and the story is moving at such a quick speed, but at the same time, the movie still seems like it's endless.

Jones explained that the biggest challenge was creating a Warcraft movie which was true to the high fantasy setting of the video game franchise, but also had a level of believability that allowed general audiences to stay somewhat grounded in the characters. The director said:

"I think anyone who played Warcraft the game is going there for escapism, I bet. So the Warcraft movie was hoping to...give it some nice believability in the characters, but to really try to live up to the game. So trying to create a kind of a full fantasy reality—like what exists in a Game of Thrones or even the Lord of the Rings—you're trying to create a sense of believability, that this place could really exist. That's not what Warcraft is about. Warcraft is more about high fantasy, something which is very much escapism and something that you would never experience in real life. That's what we were trying to create, trying to get the balance between that and something which is too camp. It's really trying to get that, that delicate line."

That line wasn't quite struck, even despite the impressive Avatar-level visual effects that were used to bring the emotive orcs to life. That's truly a shame too, because Jones had a story that would have ended up being extremely relevant today. He explained:

"For me the story was about Gul'dan and taking the false walls, the symbol or the tribe that he was the chief of, taking them away from the world that was dying, on setting them up with a new home on this planet of Azeroth. And, really that was going to happen through his baby son who's, for those who are lore junkies, was going to grow up to be this character called Thrall. So really it was about, that story and everything else was how the orcs left their home world and clear that new home for themselves in Azeroth that was the three film arc I would've wanted to follow up."

Considering all of the headlines being made everyday about immigration, especially when it comes to those fleeing from their dangerous countries, this story would have resonated quite a bit with audiences – at least the empathetic ones, anyway.

For his part, Jones is looking on the bright side, even if the Warcraft franchise probably won't be continuing:

"I genuinely think that in retrospect and as time has moved on, people are starting to appreciate the film more than maybe the critics did when it first came out but unfortunately I don't think we're going to get to make anymore."

Maybe Warcraft is worth revisiting three years after its theatrical release.