Hollywood has a history of exploiting our collective nostalgia and turning iconic intellectual properties into movies. (See: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers, and literally every superhero movie ever.) But for whatever reason, it hasn't been able to crack Dungeons & Dragons, the role-playing game that's been a cult phenomenon since its creation in 1974. Super nerd Joe Manganiello hopes to be the guy who can do just that.
Manganiello is currently developing a D&D film in the hopes of turning it into a major franchise. On the latest episode of Josh Horowitz's "Happy Sad Confused" podcast (around the 53:00 mark), the Smurfs: The Lost Village star reveals that in addition to cowriting a draft of the film with a playwright friend from Carnegie Mellon last year, he also held a creative summit with Wizards of the Coast, the creative force behind Dungeons & Dragons, to talk about "where [the film] could go, what it should look like, and what it should be."
These kinds of adaptations often miss the mark trying to appeal to both hardcore fans and mass audiences. (Look no further than last year's World of Warcraft.) So what's the key to getting a fantastical story like this right? Manganiello says it's all about grounding it in real, human emotion — and dragons.
"Obviously, there's a spectacle. There's dragons breathing fire and lightning," he says. "But what makes a great superhero or fantasy movie is the human aspect. It's got to be about something. We root for those characters in Game of Thrones. Fellowship of the Ring was about friendship, this undying love for your friends. That's something everyone can identify with."
"When a movie is about something human and real emotionally people are going to want to see. Then you get some dragons breathing fire, and hey, I'm in."
There's no timeline yet, as it's still pretty early in the development phase, but the actor is "talking to all the right parties" to make his dream a reality.