One of the big stories earlier this summer was Warcraft. The film, which spent years in production, finally came out and had an extremely bipolar outing in theaters. Overseas, the $160 million movie made a fantastic $433.5 million. Stateside? A measly $47 million.
But, aside from the financial story, there was the film's long and arduous production schedule that had people talking, as well as whether the final product lived up to what the film could have been. Director Duncan Jones, in a chat with Thrillist, spoke about the production and whether or not the final film reflected his vision.
Just how much of the filmmaker's life was taken up by Warcraft?
"Three and a half years. [Mute, his current project], from start to finish, will be one year. It's all about the decision-making process. When you make a studio film it's a bit like you're the captain of an oil tanker. If you want to make a turn it's going to take a lot of effort. When you're making an independent film it's more like you're driving a motorboat."
Jones sounds a little burnt out by the effort it took to steer the oil tanker that was Warcraft.
"I know that the movie is not perfect and I think one of the absolute frustrations of making a movie of this scale is that it is impossible, I think, to make a movie like this as an independent filmmaker. You have to find a way to squeeze it through the studio bureaucracies."
He delved further into what the process of bringing Warcraft to theaters was like:
"Trying to make a movie like Warcraft, and trying to do it in a unique way... you get killed by a death of 1,000 cuts. Not just editing cuts. It's little changes that seem really innocuous. As a filmmaker the only way that I understand how to make a film is holistically. Every choice that I make, whether it is story or character or costume, all works together. When you make a little change it doesn't seem like a big deal. When you keep making those little changes, especially over three and a half years, suddenly you're basically spending all of your time trying to work out how to patch up what has been messed around with."
Of course, he's not the first director to have to deal with studio bureaucracies, and he won't be the last. But Jones says that the fact that there were so many cooks in the kitchen means there can never, ever be a "Director's Cut."
"A lot of people ask me, 'When is the director's cut coming out?' There will never be a director's cut. With a film like this, where there are so many visual effects, every concession that you make you lose those shots. They cease to exist because the effects work never gets done. Some of it's not even at that stage. You go through a writing stage right up to the deadline of shooting the thing. [You lose] ideas in the writing process. Then sets change for whatever reason and notes come in. You're changing things around a three-and-a-half-year process. You get these little changes which are constantly course-correcting you. So there is no possibility of there ever being a director's cut. It's purely in my head."
Finally, would he consider coming back for a Warcraft sequel?
"If there were an opportunity for us to make another film in the Warcraft universe I really feel like we did the hard work in the first movie as far as setting the table. I would love to capitalize on three and a half years of hard work and be able to have some fun in that world now that I've done the hard work. [So] who knows? Maybe I'm just being a masochist."
So that's all fairly conclusive: There won't be a Director's Cut for Warcraft, and it sounds like Jones would rather get impaled by an orc than make a sequel.