Warcraft (alternatively known as Warcraft: The Beginning) is a 2016 American action fantasy film based on the video game series of the same name. Directed by Duncan Jones and written by Charles Leavitt and Jones, it stars Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, Ben Schnetzer, Robert Kazinsky, and Daniel Wu. The film follows Anduin Lothar of Stormwind and Durotan of the Frostwolf clan as heroes set on opposite sides of a growing war, as the warlock Gul’dan leads the Horde to invade Azeroth using a magic portal. Together, a few human heroes and dissenting Orcs must attempt to stop the true evil behind this war and restore peace.
The film was first announced in 2006 as a project partnership between Legendary Pictures and the game’s developer, Blizzard Entertainment. Warcraft premiered in Paris on May 24, 2016, and was released by Universal Pictures in the United States on June 10, 2016. The film grossed $47.4 million in the United States and $439 million worldwide based on its considerable success in China, where it grossed $225.5 million, becoming the highest-grossing film based on a video game, until The Super Mario Bros. Movie overtook the position in 2023. However, it failed to reach its break-even point of $450-500 million after global marketing and distribution, and received generally negative reviews from critics.
The project was officially announced in May 2006 with Blizzard initially wanting it to be set in the universe of the real-time strategy Warcraft: Orcs and Humans video game from 1994. This setting was later dropped because Blizzard decided that it would be too similar to The Lord of the Rings. Initially scheduled for a 2009 release, the film would not see a release in that year. By Comic-Con 2011, the film was announced to still only be in the development stage.
Uwe Boll made a bid to direct, but was turned away by Blizzard, who he claims to have said, “We will not sell the movie rights, not to you… especially not to you. Because it’s such a big online game success, maybe a bad movie would destroy that ongoing income, what the company has with it.” Sam Raimi was initially attached to direct, but was replaced by Duncan Jones in January 2013. Upon coming aboard, Jones immediately voiced his displeasure at the script, which he stated “was the stale fantasy trope of, humans are the good guys, monsters are the bad guys”. With Blizzard’s approval (who had also been looking to change the story), Jones altered the story so that “It’s 50-50.” Jones also faced personal struggles during filming, as his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer soon after Jones took over, and his father, David Bowie, died from cancer late in production. Jones thus summed up the challenge by telling The New York Times, “My film started and ended with cancer.” At San Diego Comic-Con International in July 2013, a concept trailer was presented, featuring a battle between a human and an orc.
Paul Dano, Travis Fimmel, Anson Mount, and Anton Yelchin emerged as the frontrunners for the lead role, with Fimmel winning the role in October 2013. On December 4, 2013, the main cast of the film, consisting of Fimmel, Ben Foster, Paula Patton, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell and Robert Kazinsky, was announced. Idina Menzel, Debbie Gibson, Julie Delpy, Alison Eastwood and Leighton Meester were also considered for the role of Garona Halforcen. On December 14, 2013, Universal added Daniel Wu and Clancy Brown to the cast. In early March 2014, newcomer Burkely Duffield joined the cast.
- Travis Fimmel as Anduin Lothar, the military commander of the human forces in Stormwind Kingdom. Steadfast and charismatic, Anduin is a knight who has sacrificed everything to keep the king and his people safe.
- Paula Patton as Garona, a strong-willed half-orc caught between the war of orcs and humans.
- Ben Foster as Medivh, the Guardian of Azeroth and a mysterious and reclusive protector who wields formidable magical power.
- Dominic Cooper as Llane Wrynn, the ruler of the Kingdom of Azeroth and a beacon of hope for his people in times of darkness, and Anduin’s brother-in-law.
- Toby Kebbell as Durotan, noble orc chieftain of the Frostwolf Clan and the father of Go’el. He fights to save his clan and the rest of the renegade orcs from Gul’dan and the destruction of their world. Kebbell also portrays the Archmage Antonidas, leader of the Kirin Tor, the mage council of Dalaran.
- Ben Schnetzer as Khadgar, a gifted young mage who was trained at a young age by the Kirin Tor to succeed Medivh as Guardian, but left and eventually found his place in the Stormwind Kingdom.
- Robert Kazinsky as Orgrim, Durotan’s best friend and second-in-command of the Frostwolf Clan
- Clancy Brown as Blackhand, the fearsome orc chieftain of the Blackrock Clan and puppet of Gul’dan
- Daniel Wu as Gul’dan, a sinister orc warlock who is the founder and leader of the Horde. Wielding powerful fel magic and driven by his ravenous desire for power.
- Ruth Negga as Lady Taria, Queen-consort of Stormwind, King Llane’s wife and Anduin’s sister
- Anna Galvin as Draka, Durotan’s mate and the mother of Thrall
- Callum Keith Rennie as Moroes, the caretaker of Karazhan and Medivh’s assistant
- Burkely Duffield as Callan, Lothar’s son
- Ryan Robbins as Karos
- Dean Redman as Varis/caged Frostwolf
June 8, 2016
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