Listen up, nerds! Everyone’s favorite fantasy card game-slash-reason that you and your three other AP-lovin’ friends never left your rec room junior year of high school is finally getting the movie adaptation treatment it justly deserves. Magic: The Gathering will make the leap from playing cards to the big screen, as Fox has acquired the rights from Hasbro to transform the multiverse of the planeswalkers into something on as large of a scale as the Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings franchises.
This is great news coming from the studios that brought us Battleship as their last game-based film offering, although casting hasn’t been set yet, so there’s always still time for Rihanna to be announced as a beautiful wizard. A sprawling Magic franchise at the same level of complexity and quality as LOTR or Harry Potter seems like a hefty order to fill, but Fox has some ammunition on their side that could make this schoolyard card game a reality: Simon Kinberg.
That’s right, Kinberg, the man brought in to do damage at Fox by creating expanded universes for the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises, is now tackling Magic: The Gathering. Kinberg will produce the film, as well as act as the “franchise engineer” by overseeing the development of the adaptation’s story arc and keeping the connection with Hasbro. As someone whose specialty is taking existing franchises and exploring them for bigger, better and more compelling (and more moneymaking) options, it makes perfect sense that Kinberg would be brought on for this venture. Especially considering that while the Magic game has numerous channels to explore when it comes down to the combinations of battle options, creatures and lands, it may be difficult to hammer out a definitive story for multiple movies.
The game, for those who weren’t in the know, became largely popular in the 1990s and hasn’t waned since. Based somewhat off of roleplaying games like Dungeons and Dragons, the card game invokes battles between players with planeswalkers (wizards) and a whole host of fantasy creatures, weapons, and spells used to defeat one another; the highly addictive game has spawned worldwide tournaments and legions of loyal followers in the decades since its inception.
What this means is a solid turnout for the first film – and a necessity to get the material perfect, or face the wrath of countless disappointed, highly dedicated fans who have spent a great deal of time immersing themselves in the business of getting all the facts right. With Wizards of the Coast’s (the company that birthed Magic) president on board the production, this shouldn’t be too big of a problem, and hopefully enough to keep the franchise moving along for a second film.
The news of Magic’s pickup could also be seen as Fox’s answer to another fantasy that they didn’t happen to name when doling out the franchise nods: Duncan Jones’ upcoming World of Warcraft adaptation, expected to hit theaters in 2016. Warcraft, an exceedingly popular online fantasy roleplaying game, is just as big of a heavyhitter as Magic, and is all but guaranteed to bring in the audiences; Fox jumping on the fantasy game adaptation bandwagon – if done in a masterful way – is a smart move to poach the kids who grew up playing Magic instead.
How long until that inevitable live-action Pokemon movie? You teach me and I’ll teach you.