RPG Evolution: What If the D&D Movie is a Hit?

Like, a really big success?


The Big Bet​

It's become clear that the Dungeons & Dragons brand has transformed in the eyes of Hasbro from a product that didn't merit much attention to a tentpole merchandising machine that's a lynchpin of Hasbro's brand playbook.

I've covered the battle over the movie's rights elsewhere in detail, but what's most relevant to this discussion is that somewhere along the line, it was decided the movie property was much more valuable than it had been in the past. Valuable enough to go to court over it.

Hasbro's always wanted to mimic Disney's success with Marvel's intellectual properties. Given that Hasbro was particularly concerned about Disney using the Open Game License, it seems the game company feels they're going to be successful enough in the brand space to be a competitor.

All this adds up to Hasbro betting big on the movie and treating it like it will be a success, well before the movie is even released. But what makes a film successful?

The Right Ingredients​

According to a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science:
Star power, acting expertise, rousing reviews and public ratings are all key factors that influence our decision to see a movie. Researchers from UTS, HEC Montreal and the University of Cambridge compared these factors across 150 studies to boil down the formula for box office success.
The D&D movie's star power is certainly higher than any other D&D-themed movie released to date. It will feature Chris Pine as bard Edgin davis (Wonder Woman) and Michelle Rodriguez as barbarian Holga (F9) in the lead roles. Justice Smith (Detective Pikachu) as sorcerer Simon, Regé-Jean Page (Bridgerton, The Grey Man) as paladin Xenk, Hugh Grant (Paddington 2) as rogue Forge, and Sophia Lillis (IT) as druid Doric. Additionally, Chloe Coleman (Big Little Lies), Jason Wong (Strangers), and Daisy Head (Shadow and Bone). Test screenings have been positive too:
...the thing that we learned the most from our test screenings was that it really appealed, not just to D&D fans, [but] people that had no idea what they were watching when they were going into the test screening actually were engaged, and they didn't think that they would be because it's a D&D movie, and it's got us not necessarily a stigma, but it has a lot of baggage attached to it in terms of what people expect out of it. I think that was like a pleasant surprise for a lot of people.
The D&D movie was advertised during the Super Bowl, which is another data point indicating the company's confidence in the movie. An average 30-second Super Bowl ad costs 7 million dollars. The movie itself $151 million (UPDATED, thank you for pointing this out!), with Chris Pine's salary pegged at $11.5 million.

Of course, reviews and public ratings will be determined after the box often returns are tallied.

And If It Does Well...​

After box office returns come in, the most immediate sign of the movie's success will be how much it earns. Estimates range between $100 to $120 million.

If the film clears the bar of making more money than it cost to produce and market, the outcomes will be familiar: sequels, spinoffs, and merchandising. That merchandising can take a lot of forms, from pencils to bookmarks, socks to blankets. D&D's already in these spaces, so it won't be a big stretch to brand specific creatures or characters from the film.

Of relevance to tabletop gamers is if any of this attention will result in more players. Hasbro seems to be following the Disney playbook, which means there isn't much cross-branding between the movies and the books that spawned them. While there are signs D&D tabletop gaming will reference the movie, it seems to be a one way street. Contrast this with DC's new strategy, in which they advertised the Flash comics that inspired the movie at the end of its Super Bowl spot.

The good news is even without specific tie-ins, D&D will likely get a boost. We can use the sometimes fraught relationship between Marvel movies and Marvel comics to understand if brand awareness drives readership. According to ComicBookHerald, we can expect anywhere from a 4.5x to 6x increase in sales of D&D-related books:
During non peak seasons (defined here as the first 14 days following a tentpole movie, or the month-long duration of WandaVision hype), the average views for the ‘Where to Start’ guide were 245 per day. During peak seasons, that total jumps to 1096 per day on average, a near 4.5x jump. And if we’re just looking at the Avengers movies, the average is closer to 1500 per day, a 6.1x increase.

Buckle Up!​

Between the legal wrangling, financial investment, and advertising dollars at stake, there's a lot riding on the D&D movie. The brand is about to be introduced to folks who have never played D&D but likely heard of it (thanks to streaming and Stranger Things) in a very big way.

One thing is clear: if the film is a blockbuster hit, D&D fandom will no longer consist of D&D players alone. Here's hoping we can welcome them to the hobby.
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Michael Tresca

Michael Tresca

Random Task

Insisting that Paramount and eOne bust out known characters is to ignore why people without D&D backgrounds enjoy this movie.
Except someone has already done the work to make interesting characters for your movie, the same way that Marvel comics were a literal storyboard for MCU characters and situations.

Why didn't Marvel just bust out some new characters on film so they didn't alienate all the non-comic book readers?

This argument really doesn't make a whole lot of sense. It's like you think adapting the characters or books would only be interesting to people who already knew them for some reason.

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Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
This argument really doesn't make a whole lot of sense. It's like you think adapting the characters or books would only be interesting to people who already knew them for some reason.
The argument makes sense if you realize that there are largely two camps of D&D fans: those who love the books and those who think they're terrible.

I don't think the two groups are likely to convince the other of their point of view on this.


I don't think there's much upside to using characters from the books, except maybe as Easter eggs. The D&D books sold fairly well but to a very niche audience; they didn't have anything like the cultural footprint of Marvel, nor are there iconic visuals readily associated with them. Drizz't is a possible exception.

If the film's a hit, they'll probably think first about a sequel with those characters, and then look at ways to flesh out the Forgotten Realms. I think rather than looking at characters, they could look at adventures as source material - I could see a film being loosely based on Rime of the Frostmaiden, Dungeon of the Mad Mage, etc.
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Here the producers enjoy the adventage the brand is about the scenary, not about a limited group of characters. This allows them creative freedom to create their own stories, and this is the original target of the game.

I don't advice adaptations of storyline/modules because the risk of spoiler is too great, for players who had watched the movie before playing the adventure, or watching the movie after played the game and knowing what should happen after.

I can understand the formula action-comedy can work in the box-office, but not all the titles should be too funny. There should be space for different styles.

* Some I imagined a D&D game-live show with Japanese (aspirant-idols) girls, roleplaying maho-shojo(magical girls), with subtitles, VTT and virtual avatars for their PCs.

How would be a game-live show in Disney+ or another streaming service?

Given that one of the things the critics are saying about the movie is how good the Pine/Rodriguez pairing is, I think it's very likely that any greenlit sequels will initially feature the same protagonists. Making movies based around other characters (or in other settings) less likely. Of course, I expect further namechecks and cameos, as in Honor Amongst Thieves. And established villain characters of course.
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That dragons has to die because it eats slaves.

Planescape could be for a fantasy animated comedy style Rick&Morty or Star Treck Lower Deck.

* If Disney needs a lot of money, the could produce an animated version of Dragonlance, for Paramount+

A movie set in al-Qadim wouldn't use this name, but something like D&D: Legends of Zakhara.

* My theory is Paramount will want to start from zero their own fantasy world, and this later to be licenced to WotC. I wouldn't blame them if they did it. Other cinematographic studios could try the same steps.

* A crossover Transformers-D&D? Jackandor would be perfect, if you add dinosaurs in the jungle.

* Maybe the settings are being designed by Paramount staff.

A movie set in al-Qadim wouldn't use this name, but something like D&D: Legends of Zakhara.

Am i misremembering, or was the very choice of the name 'al-Qadim' the result of the TSR of the time having no native Arabic speakers working on the project, and pulling a word out of an Arabic/English dictionary without understanding the nuance? I think they wanted the name to mean 'the Ancient' which sounds all cool and mysterious, so they looked up an Arabic translation for 'old', but the one they chose actually means something like 'the elderly' or 'the past best-before date'

So yeah, I'm betting they WON'T use that name :ROFLMAO:

I have myself used the google translator:

ancient civilization
ancient lands
old countries
ancient ruins

and these are translated:

alhadarat alqadima
al'aradi alqadima
alduwal alqadima
alathar alqadima

Then I can guess al-Qadim means "ancient".


An AAA videogame needs a lot of time. If there is soon a new D&D videogame, this will be for mobiles or consoles.

I would be surprised if Hasbro hasn't dreamed with their own collectable monster game style digimon or pokemon. Maybe they are going to create more magic items style "bakugan" or the dicelings, a sphere or orb what transform into a monster.

In the next D&D movie should appear a psionic mystic, or an ardent. I love the concept of psionic ardents as frenemies of clerics and other divine spellcasters, you know, a love-hate relation.

Dire Bare

The first edition of the D&D I played included a random harlot table. I'm with you, the game isn't and still isn't marketed to children. But in other threads, people have argued that children aged 12 is one of the target demographics of the game. So, who knows?
Once we got past the original white box in 1974, D&D has been marketed to children for every edition of the game, with the possible exception of 1st Edition AD&D. But of course, it's not JUST marketed to children.
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