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

Like, a really big success?

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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


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Clint_L

Hero
I'm wondering if this film, in addition to being very good, could also benefit from Marvel fatigue. A lot of folks still want a good time at an action comedy with some emotional stakes, but are getting either burnt out on Marvel or just intimidated by the scope of the MCU. This film offers an easy entry point.
 

MGibster

Legend
"Fat" Dragon here, we are not overweight, we are thicc. How could we not be when you tasty adventures show up in our lairs like a DoorDash order. <Homer Simpson voice> Hmmmmm, fresh adventures... aawwwghhhhh... <\Homer Simpson voice>

I'm sorry to be the one to break it to you. But when the biggest threat to your life and health stops being adventurers and starts being diabetes, you're not thicc you're fat. Time to go on a diet of halflings & gnomes and start jogging or something.
 

I'm wondering if this film, in addition to being very good, could also benefit from Marvel fatigue. A lot of folks still want a good time at an action comedy with some emotional stakes, but are getting either burnt out on Marvel or just intimidated by the scope of the MCU. This film offers an easy entry point.

yeah Antman 3 did not do well. That leaves a huge void that the D&D movie can fill.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Okay, you got me. They're unlikely to make a D&D that's rated R. And, hell, can you imagine such a thing? How many people would complain that they produced a rated R movie for a game aimed at children?
I really don't buy that the game is aimed at children any more. Almost everything seems geared for young adults and adults.

The only thing that really comes to mind as really focused on children is the Stranger Things boxed set, which is sad. That felt rushed and I was disappointed with the quality.
 

Ravenloft can be a mixture of epic action and gothic horror. Even the rebooted version was designed to allow space for horror stories for all audiences style Scooby-Doo.

You can bet Disney would say something if there is other movie by other producer with the name "al-Qadim".

Maybe they could produce something like animated musical videos in youtube. They could produce an animated episode set in Jackandor, to test the artistic design with a tribal-punk look.

Dragonlance has got a lot of short stories without heroes of the lance.

A crossover transformers-Kaladesh could be interesting.

A crossover power rangers + Jackandor would really freak.

Dinosaurs are "public domain", but when these are new fictional species.
 

MGibster

Legend
I really don't buy that the game is aimed at children any more. Almost everything seems geared for young adults and adults.
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?
 

Stormonu

Legend
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?
Well, I and my friends were about 10 when I first got a hold of the game (Holmes-B/X), and I started my kids on D&D at that age as well (3E).

For the most part, I think the game is aimed for those in high school through college - that seems to be age with the most time on one's hands to play it pretty much non-stop.
 

I'm wondering if this film, in addition to being very good, could also benefit from Marvel fatigue. A lot of folks still want a good time at an action comedy with some emotional stakes, but are getting either burnt out on Marvel or just intimidated by the scope of the MCU. This film offers an easy entry point.

While I don't harbor any pretensions that Honor Among Thieves will rake in a top-tier MCU-level box office, I think there's definitely an opportunity to be had here, for a good action-comedy blockbuster that isn't Marvel or superhero-related at all.

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?

I was nine when I first played Basic D&D. By my estimation, I was probably eleven when I switched to AD&D. And I'm pretty sure I asked my mom what a Brazen Strumpet was.
 

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