Blizzard has offered fresh insight into its vision for the Warcraft movie, revealing characters, locations and a plot overview at a Blizzcon panel.
The panel was attended by the movie's director Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code), as well as Blizzard's cheif creative officer Rob Pardo and World of Warcraft story and franchise developer Chris Metzen.
Blizzard opened by stating that the movie was still over two years away and filming has not started. Director Duncan Jones revealed that he had the opportunity to read the original script and found that it was too focused on the Alliance. He changed the script to be a more balanced story exploring multiple perspectives, he said.
Although much detail wasn't given on the plot, Jones did reveal it will be an origin story focusing on first contact between the humans and the orcs. Lothar and Durotan were named as two of the main characters.
"Ultimately, both of these men are going to find themselves at this crux point of history and will be put to the test," Metzen explained. "Working with these two characters allowed us to tell this story in a much tighter way than we've been able to in the game. It's been a really rewarding experience.
"The series has always been very binary, you play human or orc. They were contiguous, so we had to decide who won in the first Warcraft, we had to fudge the continuity. Looking at the structure for this film has been really fun, someone's got to win and someone has got to lose. But everyone loses just a little bit."
"Both of them are protectors, they want to do the right thing for the people they're responsible for," Jones chimed in. "It's about telling to story from both perspectives."
Asked about whether Warcraft's numerous strong female characters would be represented both Jones and Metzen hinted strongly that Azeroth's well known female characters will feature.
"If you look at the lore during that era, it's pretty much young white guys. What the movie guys have been saying is 'have more female characters, that'd make the movie better', and Duncan has been working on that," said Metzen
Jones added: "I think any of you that know your lore will see there's definitely opportunities for strong female lead roles"
Early concept art of some of the locations, including Draenor and Iron Forge, was shown during the panel.
"It's exciting that we get to physically build these areas, you can just imagine what our production parties are going to be like," said Jones.
"We talk about this thing; the characters and plot lines, but the character that's most famous to all of us is the world itself," said Metzen. "You might have met Thrall, fought the Lich King, but we've spent X number of hours in the Barrens. That's been a major value of ours, finding that and translating that. It's critically important that we pull out the nuances of these areas with maximum familiarity,"
"I really wanted it to be what I grew up playing," Jones continued. "We needed to make sure that the audience beyond Warcraft players understand, even if you're an orc, you're a hero,"
Bill Westenhofer, noted for his award-winning work on Life of Pi, Chronicles of Narnia and The Golden Compass, is working on visual effects for the Warcraft movie. According to Westenhofer the movie will use a mixture of CGI animation and real-time footage, with half the cast real actors and the others motion captured. Industrial Light and Magic was confirmed as working on the Warcraft movie.
"We want to do it as much justice as possible," said Westenhofer. "We're pushing the technology on set, we'll go to lengths to build the costumes and lighting. The orcs aren't just monsters, they'll have personalities."
When asked to draw parallels with other movies to describe its aesthetic, Westenhoffer picked Gladiator: "pretty, muddy, down in the dirt, covered in grime".
Jones emphasised the benefit of working closely with Blizzard, saying "working in parallel keeps us honest. It makes sure that the film we make is the film that fans want."
When asked about if they have casting worked out, Jones said: "Yup. Sure do lot's of them"
Discussing the future of Warcraft as a movie property, both Jones and Metzen said they would both consider sequels, provided the first film is successful.
"We could make a number of trilogies," said Metzen
"If we do it right and it works out I think we'll all be enthusiastic about doing a story. I think we've got enough stories," said Jones. "Peter Jackson set the bar in what fantasy needs to do, anything we do needs to match and beat that"