Warner Bros. Rolls the Dice on ‘Dungeons & Dragons’

Bryan Enk
Movie Talk

Well, here's some lawful good news.

Warner Bros. has realized that there might be more to this whole fantasy genre thing than just "Lord of the Rings" as they've officially scored the rights to "Dungeons & Dragons," the roleplaying fantasy game that either you or someone you know has probably played at least once ... and perhaps for even days on end.

"D&D" was created by Gary Gygax and David Arneson and first published by Tactical Studies Rules, Inc. (TSR) in 1974. It's widely regarded as the Grand High Wizard of roleplaying games and the pioneer of the roleplaying game industry as players create specific characters and embark on various fantasy adventures, many of which often involve a dungeon and a dragon.

"D&D" has yet to be successfully translated to the big screen, as the 2000 feature directed by Courtney Solomon and starring Marlon Wayans and Jeremy Irons was reviled by both critics and audiences. The franchise has since been doomed to a couple of made-for-television Syfy movies, "Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God" (2005) and "Dungeons & Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness" (2012). That last one at least has a really cool title.

The newfangled "D&D" movie is already in active development at WB, with a script by "Wrath Of The Titans" and "Red Riding Hood" David Leslie Johnson. The screenplay actually comes from a script that was acquired last year as a stand-alone project, "Chainmail," which was based on a much more obscure game created by Gygax before he unleashed D&D. The film is being produced by Roy Lee and Courtney Solomon (yes, the same guy who directed the 2000 movie).

WB has been desperately searching for new franchises after both "Harry Potter" and "The Dark Knight" have recently come to a close. It makes sense that they'd want to prioritize this project upon the mega-success of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" and the increasing popularity of HBO's "Game of Thrones," not to mention the fact that both "Clash of the Titans" and "Wrath of the Titans" did pretty well, despite being godawful.

If they give "Dungeons & Dragons" the proper budget and hire the right people (which WB usually does, on both counts), they might be the ones to finally capitalize cinematically on this $1 billion RPG franchise ... which would make them Hollywood's official Dungeon Master.