Friday, October 2, 2009

Warhammer 40k: The Movie(?)

It was nerd-dom at its finest. The setting was my wedding reception (well, post-wedding dinner), April 26, 2008. Among the attendees were two rabid 40k fans: my friend Badelaire and my cousin Tyrant. Amidst the general revelry the topic of 40k came up (duh, what do you talk about at weddings?). Tyrant and Badelaire were discussing the possibility of a Warhammer 40k feature film, and naturally I had to jump in.

What we could all agree on was that we would all love it if such a movie was made. The technology exists now that filming a live-action film in the 40k universe is feasible. The argument then arose that while a 40k movie could be made, would one be made, especially in the near future?

Basically Tyrant came down on the side that there will undoubtedly be a 40k live-action movie in production within 5 years, while Badelaire and I disagreed. After a heated argument, we came to a gentleman's bet: If a live-action 40k movie was in production, with the intention of general release to theaters (that is, not straight to DVD and not an all CGI movie), as determined by announcement/press release being made by a reputable source (e.g., IMDB), by April 26, 2013, Badelaire and I would buy Tyrant a ticket to the movie. If a movie was not in production by this date, Tyrant would pay us each $1,000,000 US. (Actually, that last bit isn't true. Tyrant didn't offer us anything if he lost the bet...)

The gist of our arguments for or against were as follows:

Tyrant's arguments for a movie being made within 5 years:
  • Such a movie would be an incredible marketing tool for GW products.
  • While making a live-action movie would undoubtedly be a large investment, the rewards from a successful movie would be huge and well worth it.
  • While there may be fears of negatively publicity because of the "darkness" of the 40k universe, this is no different from any number of other sci-fi movies being put out these days. Also, "any publicity is good publicity."

Darkwing's and Badelaire's arguments for a movie not being made within 5 years:
  • While a movie would be an immense marketing tool for GW products, GW is doing just fine and does not need to expand into this market.
  • The additional exposure could in fact be detrimental to GW--already GW has to combat an image that it is brainwashing young minds with images of slaughter and worship of dark gods, etc. This is manageable now, but if a blockbuster movie came out, there might be a backlash that GW would wish to avoid.
  • To do a 40k movie justice would require a big investment. With the economy the way it is and the state of the business, GW might not want to foot the bill just yet.
  • The 40k background is immensely rich--in all of that, where do you even start in choosing a movie idea? In order to attract new customers, you'd want something representative of what GW and 40k are all about, while leaving enough mystery for people to want more--the movie is, after all, essentially an advertisement for GW. At the same time you want to avoid things that appear like movie cliches (E.g., a Space Marine vs. Tyranid movie would have some people dismiss 40k as a clone of Aliens or any number of other derivative works)

I'll update this list as I think of more arguments we had come up with (after all, we had the argument 18 months ago).


Badelaire said...

One point I definitely made was that, unlike some "video game to movie" deals, a 40K movie would not only be R-rated, but a very, very hard "R" rating.

I mean, just the typical weapons used by a Space Marine are frighteningly destructive. Shooting someone with a bolter is essentially like detonating a mini-grenade in their body cavities - people don't just get "shot" by a bolter, you get blown into bloody chunks. You run into similar problems with most of the other weapons. Chainswords are going to rip you into pieces, a powerfist will turn someone into bloody steaming hash when it hits you.

Then consider flamers, meltaguns, plasma pistols...people don't just get shot and fall over in the 40Kverse, they explode. If you can't get away with making a 40K movie that goes to some length to represent this level of horrorific carnage, then it's not really going to be Warhammer: 40,000.

Darkwing said...

A counter-argument to that, however, is that this is America, where the tolerance for over the top violence is pretty high. I can imagine them trying to get a PG-13 rating with a decent amount of violence.

I agree, however, that if you were to show the 40k universe as it really is, there's no way to avoid an R-rating. That rules out a huge percentage of the target demographic...unless they can convince their parents to bring them along.

The Inner Geek said...

I just in the last couple days saw a bit about a 40k movie. In fact, you can sign up for updates at this link. I think Badelaire is right that a good 40k movie would be very violent. Unfortunately, the movie industry likes to take artistic license to get the right ratings and wide audience appeal. So, we might not even recognize a big production of 40k as being from our beloved hobby if one was made!