Interest in Dungeons & Dragons has never been greater. Buoyed recently by the success of Stranger Things, the Netflix series in which a group of teens play D&D, and Prime Video’s The Legend of Vox Machina, an adult-oriented animation based on a popular internet group’s D&D campaign. Enter Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, a new live-action movie based on the game, which boasts an ensemble cast including Hugh Grant and Chris Pine. But how do you turn a tabletop role-playing game into a Hollywood blockbuster?
To keep things human, co-directors Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley prioritized physical sets, monsters, and scenery over green-screen creations. In fact, their producer, Jeremy Latcham, says they built around 120 practical sets, and that’s not including the actual, real erupting volcano they shot in Iceland.
"When people say practical effects, there’s often this memory of Jurassic Park," Latcham tells Total Film (opens in new tab) in the latest issue of the magazine, which features Renfield on the cover. "Practical effects haven’t stopped innovating since then."
"Jurassic Park was very much our spirit animal in our approach to this film," Goldstein adds. "What Spielberg did so perfectly was to blend practical and visual effects. And that’s what we were able to do with this."
- Pre-order the Renfield issue here (opens in new tab)
Michelle Rodriguez, who plays Holga the Barbarian, highlights another famous filmmaker the team was inspired by. "With [Goldstein and Daley], when they write, they understand that it’s very important to have love. If you have a big story without love, you’re gonna fail. That’s a Jim Cameron quote, and he’s right."
"Heart is first and foremost," says Daley. "It’s the most important thing: investing in your characters, really caring about what happens to them. Audiences are savvy enough to know when something is just a blatant, commercial cash grab that doesn’t have any meaning or substance to it. We wanted to make a good movie, first and foremost, and it just happened to be within the construct of this fleshed-out world that was really fun to explore."
Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves arrives in cinemas on March 31. For more on the movie, grab a copy of the new issue of Total Film magazine (opens in new tab) when it hits shelves (and digital newsstands) this Thursday, March 2. Check out the covers below:(opens in new tab)
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