Friday, August 12, 2011

Gary Gygax Bio Pic?

This article, over at the ever-reliable Examiner.com, claims that "a $150 million movie based on Gary Gygax’s life" is in the works and that a "huge star is playing Gary." George Strayton, formerly of West End Games, and the writer of several episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess and the Dragonlance cartoon is tagged as the screenwriter for this project, which tells "the story of how Gary created Dungeons & Dragons, switching between his real life and the fantasy realm of Dungeons & Dragons." Elsewhere, it's described as a "combination action movie and bio pic."

Maybe I've just gotten terribly cynical in my old age, but I have a hard time believing that this project will ever come to fruition. Maybe $150 million dollars is beer money in Hollywood these days, but that seems an awfully big budget for a film of this kind. And a "huge star" in the title role? Again, that sounds incredibly implausible to me, but what do I know? I'd frankly be amazed if any studio thought that the life of Gary Gygax had enough mass appeal to be made into a movie, let alone one with a big budget and a huge star.

I guess we'll see if anything ever comes of this or if it's just another pipe dream.

42 comments:

  1. $150 million? Yeah, I doubt that. "Combination action movie and bio pic?" That doesn't sound promising either.

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  2. Prediction: If this movie gets made, it will end up a "laugh at the nerds" comedy that tries to undo 80 minutes of meanness with a 10 minute feelgood ending.

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  3. Prediction: If this movie gets made, it will end up a "laugh at the nerds" comedy that tries to undo 80 minutes of meanness with a 10 minute feelgood ending.

    What an awful thought! And, yet, given the way Hollywood works, I can easily see something like that happening.

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  4. No need to worry about it -- it's never gonna happen!

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  5. No need to worry about it -- it's never gonna happen!

    That's my thought, too. I don't know, well, anything about movies are made, but I'm guessing what's stated in the article is, at best, wishful thinking on the part of Gail Gygax and George Strayton rather than an indication that this thing is close to being made.

    Me, I'd much rather see a documentary about the creation of D&D than a Gygax bio pic -- and I mean that as no disrespect to Gary's memory.

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  6. "writer of several episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess and the Dragonlance cartoon"

    Uh. Not a real impressive resume there.

    "huge star is playing Gary"

    Sure. Like Jeremy Irons in that D&D movie? Or Kiefer Sutherland in the Dragonlonace cartoon?

    This is all about promotion and getting someone to buy the rights to something with make believe publicity. Someone must be haggling over the rights to another piece of Gygax estate or biography and they let this leak as a negotiation tactic. Its all smoke and mirrors.

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  7. This is all about promotion and getting someone to buy the rights to something with make believe publicity. Someone must be haggling over the rights to another piece of Gygax estate or biography and they let this leak as a negotiation tactic. Its all smoke and mirrors.

    That's an intriguing possibility.

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  8. Pish and tosh! Fatuous and jejeune. ;-)

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  9. There was a Dragonlance cartoon? 8-[

    Why not a biopic? The Whole Wide World (which I just saw for the first time last week) turned out okay, and I think Gygax is at least as interesting as Howard.

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  10. I'd love it if the "huge star" was Paul Giamatti. He'd make a great Gygax. George Strayton's credits don't make me confident that he's some kind of RPG Charlie Kaufman, though.

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  11. Jack Black would be a good pick as well. If they got Dan Harmon (Monster House, Community, Dead Alewives) to write the script it could be a good movie.

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  12. $150 million would put this movie in the range of big-budget movies like 2010's "Robin Hood" and 2004's "Alexander;" in other words, among the top-50 most expensive films made. Somehow... I doubt it.

    "...the ever-reliable Examiner.com..."

    I assume that's meant to be sardonic. ;-)

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  13. If Hollywood can't get Conan right — despite all the great scholarship on REH these days — how in the world can we expect them to do a movie about Gygax that does anything other than get history very, very wrong? I seriously hope that this remains a rumor and never comes to fruition.

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  14. Unless they actually have funding attached (the article makes it sound like they estimate the cost to be $150 million - NOT that anyone has actually given them the money) they won't have actor's attached and they certainly don't have any studio or distribution backing.

    This sounds like they are about to get their initial pitch ready to put in front of suits in order to get money... just like everyone else with a dream of a movie.

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  16. I personally would love to see a thoughtful documenatary about Gary and/or the birth of D&D. This, however, is clearly something else entirely.

    the writer of several episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess and the Dragonlance cartoon is tagged as the screenwriter for this project

    Seriously, a completely unheard-of writer with no credits at all would impress me more than that.

    "the story of how Gary created Dungeons & Dragons, switching between his real life and the fantasy realm of Dungeons & Dragons." Elsewhere, it's described as a "combination action movie and bio pic."

    I think I just threw up a little.

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  17. This is a weird idea. I'm very skeptical.

    What would the plot be? Perhaps something like "The Social Network" with Gygax as Zuckerberg and Arneson as Eduardo? :-)

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  18. Me, I'd much rather see a documentary about the creation of D&D than a Gygax bio pic -- and I mean that as no disrespect to Gary's memory.

    Same here. However, on an unrelated note, I reecently watched the movie Pentagon Wars (from HBO around 1998) and am reading the book (which came out in 1993 and is autobiographical). HBO took a true and very serious story from the book and made it into a black comedy. While on the surface this sounds terrible, the movie captured the spirit and the actual historical events quite well and did not demean the author/protagonist - quite the opposite, really. The end result was quite entertaining, while remaining accurate and historical.

    So, a biopic might be just as effective as a documentary, but I still bet neither is going to happen with a $150M budget.

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  19. "Huge star" naturally means they're hiring a physically big actor. :)

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  20. EGG played by Zach Galifianakis, Dave Arneson played by Seth Rogan. It'll be a road trip buddy picture brought to you by the team who created "The Hangover."

    With the dungeon special effects created by the SyFy/Roger Corman teams behind 'Sharktopus' 'Dinocroc', etc.

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  21. Pray to God this a just a rumor.

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  22. Hollywood logic: "The Facebook movie was a success. So what else do nerds like? How about D&D? Who was the guy who wrote that? They'd pay to see a film about him..."

    May this cinematic abomination die in development hell.

    That said, a 'Gary in California' segment done in the style of Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas would be a hoot:

    GARY looks around him -- the entire room has TRANSFORMED into a ROOM FILLED WITH REPTILES IN CLOTHES, DRINKING AND GNAWING AT ONE ANOTHER.

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  23. [i]GARY looks around him -- the entire room has TRANSFORMED into a ROOM FILLED WITH REPTILES IN CLOTHES, DRINKING AND GNAWING AT ONE ANOTHER.[/i]

    I... I would totally see that.
    Waitaminute. I already imagined it.
    Just saved the price of a movie ticket. :)

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  24. Thanks for the copy-over/heads-up. :)

    > Osskorrei said...
    > EGG played by Zach Galifianakis, Dave Arneson played by Seth Rogan.

    I didn't see anything about this Dave person mentioned...

    Anything vaguely factual would be most welcome but extremely unlikely due to entrenched positions and lack of incentive to present a complex series of events in movie form when the topic is meant to be "entertainment".

    >...and the fantasy realm of Dungeons & Dragons."

    Welcome to cliché-land? :)
    Sounds like a movie version of the D&D 4e "For dummies..." book being almost entirely dedicated to the game's crunch to the detriment of the concept of *imagination*?

    @Chris; nice one. Sounds about right for the politics. ;)

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  25. I can't wait for the action figures!

    Gary Gygax as Mordenkainen!
    Rob Kuntz as Robilar!
    Lorraine Williams as Lloth!

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  26. I hear Justin Bieber will play Gord the Rogue.
    Don't forget "Little D", the cute cartoony d20 sidekick!

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  27. While that budget is close to unbelievable, and the action/bio thing sounds risky, is the idea of an EGG pic that far removed from something like Moneyball? Folks seem pretty stoked about that one. (I do realize that baseball has a good history at the box office...)

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  28. Moneyball's budget is reported to be $47M. $150M for a GG biopic is obviously insane. I can understand Gail hearing people tell her these numbers and getting caught up in it and not knowing any better because she is a novice, but George Strayton should certainly know better than to start talking about budgets when there is no deal for rights, no script, no studio involvement, no director, etc. I hope he's not the engine behind this stupidity.

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  29. This sounds like it'll be horrible, but I could actually see a biopic of Gary Gygax going well as a film. The guy, out of love, invents something, markets it, becomes successful, and then has it stolen through crooked business dealings. Simple enough narrative.

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  30. C'mon. Zack Galifankas(sp) is right for this role as a young Gary.

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  31. @The Human Target: No, just no because you've just punched a button.

    Why is visiting my friend's "Farm" in Farmville social but having my friends over to engage in face to face, real time activity anti-social.

    If there is one thing I'm sick of is the stereotype of roleplayers as anti-social. In a culture where actually having standing plans and arranging your schedule to interact with others (Miss Manners has lamented on the near extinction of that species known as hosts) I refuse to accept a hobby based on planning and then doing face to face interactions is anti-social.

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  33. Too bad their going that route as it should be a smaller film detailing Gay's life from the early years of the Hobby to when he was outed from TSR. Paul Giamatti would make a perfect Gygax, and Philip Seymour Hoffman would make a great Dave Anderson.

    But with that 150 million dollar price tag it seems like a long shot. Even if they got a commitment from Vin Diesel to star in it and maybe John Favreau to direct, how are they going to deal with WOTC/HASBRO?. It'll cost a fortune just for them to give the ok to even mention D&D in the film, let alone any toy or merchandising rights.

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  35. You don't need Trademark rights to do a picture about a subject. The Social Network was not authorized by Facebook, but as long as the term wasn't in the title they were able to mention the word throughout the film. I suspect a film about Gary Gygax would be just called "Gygax", with a tagline not mentioning D&D but saying something like "The creator of the RPG" or something like that.

    The fantasy sequences probably won't refer to D&D in general but perhaps to Gary's original dungeon campaign, as it's a property his estate still controls. As long as you don't deal with specific creations owned by TSR, you can show people hunting orcs and dragons in a dungeon environment.

    I'm not sure how solid this proposal is right now in terms of development--but as far as the idea goes--heck, I didn't think you could get a movie out of a Disney ride, but it worked! This could work too.

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  36. In the good ol US of A, and you can start a lawsuit for any reason on anybody. Facebook could of easily went after Sony Pictures but they didn't. Although it's never been officially mentioned, it is well known one of Zuckerberg's relates was involved in the Facebook movie and got his blessing after hearing David Fincher and Aron Sorkin were involved. A better example to a purposed Gygax bio and the uphill battles the filmmakers would have they would have, might be closer to the film "Hollywoodland" which centered on the life and death of George Reeves. Reeve's of course famously portrayed Superman back in the 50's , but other then Ben Afflect wearing a superhero costume, there's no mention what-so-ever to Superman in the film as they were not given permission to mention or use any likeness to the character.


    A $150 million dollar film is still a huge budget even in Hollywood today and I don't know how on earth their going to find anybody who's willing give out that amount of dough without at least getting toy and merchandising rights included in the deal. But everybody has their price an I'm sure WOTC has theres, but whatever that may be i'm sure will open one big can of worms. So if this film was actually ever made, don't be surprised if the LBB's looks something like D&D Essentials.

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  37. Don't worry, as several other peeps have said - this'll never ever see the light of day.

    I'll add it to my huge list of movies that were, or so absolutely going to be made *rolls eyes*.

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  38. I can actually see this happening.

    The key thing to realize, though, is that such a film is about a screen writer latching on to something they see in the biography (even if it is something that isn’t really there) and then writing a film around that. The results may only slightly resemble reality, and its message will probably be off as representative of the life depicted. So, they can make it have mass appeal.

    Then Sonny Curtis gets to write a song in response. ^_^

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  39. My $.02. It's actually an interesting idea, and budget aside, may be a project that someone in Hollywood might see fit to produce. The posters above who mentioned Social Network (and to a lesser extent, Moneyball and Hollywoodland) have the right idea about the type of movies that actually get made, and the how/why. Alas, the other posters who note that such a project may prove disastrous are correct as well. Lastly, as an aside, posters like "crow king" make me fear for the future of civilization. The spelling. The grammar. Lord have mercy...

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