Director signs on for live-action adaptation of vidgame

Sam Raimi has signed on to direct “Warcraft,” the live-action film adaptation of the fantasy videogame franchise “World of Warcraft.”

Legendary Pictures and vidgame publisher Blizzard Entertainment are mounting the film, and Warner Bros. will co-finance and distribute. The team boasts an impressive pedigree: In addition to the director of “Spider-Man,” the partners have added “The Dark Knight” producer Charles Roven to the creative mix.

The plan is for Raimi to supervise development of “Warcraft” and shoot the picture after he completes work on “Spider-Man 4,” which gets under way early next year for Columbia Pictures.

The movie will be financed under the Legendary Pictures’ co-production and co-financing deal with WB, in a manner similar to the Todd Phillips-directed “The Hangover” plus the Roven-produced “Batman Begins” and “Dark Knight.”

The “Warcraft” universe features an epic conflict between the Horde and the Alliance. The game has developed a global following since its launch in 1994 and shows no signs of slowing. Its most recent expansion, “Wrath of the Lich King,” sold more than 2.8 million copies in the first day of release and more than 4 million its first month.

“Warcraft” is “emblematic of the kind of branded, event films for which our studio is best known,” said Warner Bros. Pictures Group president Jeff Robinov. The deal revives a long-dormant pact made by Legendary and Blizzard for a film adaptation of the game (Daily Variety, May 8, 2006).

“At its core, ‘Warcraft’ is a fantastic, action-packed story,” Raimi said in a statement.

Raimi most recently directed “Drag Me to Hell.”

Roven and his Atlas producing partner Alex Gartner will produce with Legendary’s CEO Thomas Tull and chief creative officer Jon Jashni, Raimi and his producing partner, Joshua Donen. Rob Tapert will be executive producer, and Blizzard senior VP of creative development Chris Metzen will be co-producer.

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