While the crowd was still reeling with the news of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion and the introduction of the updated Terran race for Starcraft II, Blizzard finished their one-two combo with the announcement that the live-action Warcraft movie is tentatively scheduled for release in 2009. Due to Blizzard's knack for shunning schedules, we're hoping this film will see the light of day before 2020.
During the panel discussion, Creative Director Chris Metzen and Chief Operating Officer Paul Samms introduced Jon Jashni and Thomas Tull, of Legendary Films, the company behind 300 and Batman Begins. Blizzard and Legendary have begun pre-production on the Warcraft movie, admitting that it is early days yet.
Metzen said that Blizzard had been looking for a production company to help create a movie from one of Blizzard's many franchises for over five years, but kept running into studio executives who felt a fantasy movie wouldn't attract moviegoers.
"Does anybody think fantasy movies work well?" Metzen asked the crowd, to roaring approval.
As for fans that fear that Hollywood will sacrifice the lore and canon of the Warcraft universe for a quick buck, both Metzen and Tull were quick to reassure them.
"This is not a video game movie, it's just based upon, inspired by, the World of Warcraft," said Tull.
The story will happen roughly one year before the action starts in World of Warcraft, and will focus on Azeroth through the alliance's eyes. Metzen was firm that the lore and continuity will not be changed so much as merged - main plots from the history of the world will be brought into one story. Familiar faces such as Thrall, Bolvar Fordragon and Jaina Proudmoore will be featured, as well as a new hero that Metzen remained tightlipped about.
Metzen assured the crowd that the look of the film will reflect the WoW universe as much as possible, and that careful attention was being paid to the armor sets, items, and the world art kit in its entirety so that the movie will retain the World of Warcraft ambiance.
The movie will be live-action and has been approved for upwards of a $100 million dollar budget, and though no names have been attached to the project, Thomas Tull, chairman and CEO of Legendary, says he has been fielding calls from actors and directors already interested in the film.
However, Metzen did say "I don't think we've contacted Chuck Norris yet."