Duncan Jones Talks Spending Almost Four Years Making ‘Warcraft’ and Whether He’d Want to Return For a Sequel
This year, director Duncan Jones showed up at his third-straight Comic-Con to talk about his upcoming movie, Warcraft. But this year, he actually brought with him an extended look at the film, giving audiences their first real look at what the movie adaptation of Blizzard’s World of Warcraft would look like.
In addition to the footage, Jones was also promoting a new virtual reality experience for Warcraft fans. The film partnered with Google Cardboard for Google’s biggest ever VR partnership and gave away 50,000 viewers to Comic-Con attendees, allowing them to turn their phone into a mobile VR device.
Legendary partners with Google to give away to Comic-Con attendees 50,000 new and improved Google Cardboard viewers in Google’s biggest ever partnership of this kind. This easy-to-assemble platform is a great way for anyone to transform their smartphone into a simple, easy to use mobile VR device.
The experience, Warcraft: The Skies of Azeroth, takes fans of a virtual ride on the back of a gryphon in an experience created in close partnership with ILM XLABS, Jones and the Warcraft creative team (available to download by visiting Legendary.com/VR).
We caught up with Jones to talk about Warcraft, spending almost four years of his professional life on one movie, whether he wants to return to direct any sequels and let him drop some hints about Star Wars.
How long have you been working on this movie?
Two-and-a-half years on this film and we have about 11 months to go until the film comes out, so by the time it’s released, it will be just short of four years.
That’s a very long time to make one movie. Have you felt fatigued at all through this process?
I felt really fatigued about one month ago and then we got to the point where I was able to have my first holiday in a very long time. So I had a few weeks off, got myself a tan and relaxed.
How does it feel to have to sit on a movie that you’re this excited about for as long as you have?
It’s a huge movie and it has a vast, vast number of visual effects shots that ILM is doing, and we have under 10 left. The film is done, it’s just waiting for those shots to be dropped into place. We have our score done. Everything’s kinda done. So it will be done and sitting and waiting to come out in June of next year. So, is it frustrating? Yes, but the fact that it is so finished, I’ve had the chance to show it to people that I respect who are honest with me and they were really excited about it. So, I feel like it’s worth waiting for.
When you screened this movie for people, did you make a point to show it to people who weren’t familiar with the game?
Right from the start, it was absolutely imperative that we came up with a story that would bring an audience who didn’t know about World of Warcraft along with it. Not everyone who saw the first Lord of the Rings movie had read Tolkein. And Peter Jackson did a wonderful job of being able to bring an audience along with him and get them involved in that universe. I saw that as my job on this film. To realize and communicate this universe that Blizzard had created and bring it to an audience that doesn’t know anything about it. And with this film, I think we’ve done a great job of that. We delivered a great story with great characters and I can’t wait for people to see it.
You’re a huge World of Warcraft fan, so this must’ve been a dream come true for you.
I am. Warcraft’s been going on for 20 years, and the first 10 years were real-time strategy games. And then World of Warcraft started about 10 years ago and I’ve been playing back since Orcs & Humans. I actually used to play Lost Vikings, which was a game Blizzard made even before that. I’ve been playing for a long time.
Over in London, Commodore computers were kind of big, so I used to play a lot of games on the Commodore. I’ve been playing games on there since the late-1970s.
The Horde and Alliance are pretty much divided among players, are both sides heroic and villainized in equal parts?
My big pitch to Blizzard when I became involved was that I wanted to make a war movie and I want to tell the story from both sides. I want heroes on both sides and I want people to sympathize with both sides. I want you to feel bad that good characters from both sides are going to find themselves in a conflict that there’s no way out of. That’s the film I pitched and that’s what I feel we delivered on. Absolutely, there are contingents of heroes on both sides that audiences will be rooting for. And I think there are divided loyalties and individuals will be divided about who they should be rooting for. But, there is a Horde side and an Alliance side and that is integral to what makes up Warcraft.
Were you an integral part in the Warcraft VR experience?
I was obviously focused mainly on the film, but we discussed what kind of experience we could give the film through VR. It’s about a minute-and-a-half long. It’s about what contained environment can we allow an audience to experience that doesn’t have to be narrative-driven. Although I think the Crimson Peak experience [also developed by Legendary] has a little bit of a narrative experience to it. But, we wanted to do something with this world-building we’re doing in the movie, and is there something that gives you a sense of that in VR. So, we have this gryphon flight over Stormwind. Anyone who does know Stormwind — I talk about it like it’s a real place — it’s just a cool, fantasy experience being on this big, winged creature as you fly across this fantasy city.
You have some free time coming up before Warcraft hits theaters. Have you thought yet about what you might do next?
I’m very much open and I’m going to be able to squeeze in a little, independent film that I’ve been wanting to do for years [Mute, which follows a mute bartender looking for his abducted girlfriend] before this comes out. But, it’s a race against time to see if I can do it. But, that’s my hope.
Considering how much time this one movie took to get made, if Legendary wanted to turn this into a franchise, would you be willing to commit to another three years of your life on a Warcraft sequel?
Yeah, I would. I very much would. When working on this movie, we worked incredibly closely with Blizzard and I personally got the chance to work with Chris Metzen, who does a lot of the storytelling for Blizzard, and we worked out if we did get the chance to get three films to tell a story, this would be the first piece and we have an idea what we would do with [Parts] two and three. I want to be the guy to deliver that. I’m uniquely privileged that I got the chance to start a franchise of films, if we get the opportunity to make more. There are other franchise out there that I would be incredibly privileged to do —
[Long pause][Laughs]...But, I would love to finish a story, that I’ve been working on from the start. That would be something special.