A live-action series based on the tabletop roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons is coming to Paramount+. The pilot of the show was written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, who wrote films like “Dodgeball” and “Red Notice.”
The series will be co-produced by Hasbro’s eOne and Paramount Pictures, who are also working together on the upcoming movie “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.”
Hasbro acquired Dungeons & Dragons publisher Wizards of the Coast in 1999, but in the last few years, Hasbro has reorganized the subsidiary into a more prominent division at the games company. These television and movie adaptations of the game are part of the company’s longterm plan to drum up more money from the popular roleplaying game.
“The brand is really undermonetized,” said Wizards of the Coast president Cynthia Williams about Dungeons & Dragons in a December investor call. But she also added that the game has never been more popular. Paramount+ says that more than 50 million fans have played or interacted with the franchise since its release almost half a century ago.
“The D&D strategy is a broad four-quadrant strategy, where we have this powerful brand that has similar awareness, say like ‘Lord of the Rings’ or ‘Harry Potter,’” said Hasbro CEO Chris Cocks on the same call. “And we’re going to imbue it with blockbuster entertainment, like we have with the movie coming up.”
A potential problem with this plan, though, is that Dungeons & Dragons is a framework through which people create their own fantasy-inspired stories and games — there isn’t really a core canon or plot that unifies the interest of all players of the game. You could surmise that most “Harry Potter” fans feel an emotional attachment to the story of the orphaned boy wizard and his friends, but you can’t really have a favorite character or scene in Dungeons & Dragons. For the most part, every group’s game has different fan-made characters and events. While Wizards of the Coast does publish some books with “official” lore and ideas, they’re not essential to gameplay.
Since the Hasbro acquisition, there have been a few attempts to bring the popularity of “Dungeons & Dragons” to the big screen. In 2000, the film “Dungeons & Dragons” hit theaters, but it was a box office bomb. This was followed by two direct-to-DVD “Dungeons & Dragons” films in 2005 and 2012, which also performed poorly.
As Hasbro invests in blockbuster content like a movie and TV series, Dungeons & Dragons fans and content creators are currently protesting the company’s changing gaming license. Since 2000, fans have been able to make a living by selling their own additions to the game under an open gaming license, but Wizards of the Coast has confirmed that it will alter this license soon. Under the new gaming license, all creators making more than $50,000 annually from licensed content will have to report their revenue to Wizards of the Coast, and those making more than $750,000 per year will pay royalties starting in 2024.