Was doing the game justice a risk?
It's been really unusual and challenging to parse exactly what makes the film work for certain audiences. There is no clear and defined group of people who likes Warcraft. There are young men and old men who like it. There are kids who like it. There are women, young and old, who like it. And pretty much all of these demographics evenly are split between people who know the game and people who know nothing about the game. There are older women who know nothing about Warcraft, large numbers of them, who love the movie.
Warcraft is robust with mythology and mystical language. How do you know what a mainstream audience can absorb?
I would refer you back to Star Wars and the names of the characters in that. Han Solo -- if you met him on the street you would probably find that to be a slightly odd name. Luke Skywalker, again, a little odd. Lothar, well kind of odd, but not that odd. If you go to Lord of the Rings it gets even crazier. I've had this discussion and it has been publicized with people before. If you knew nothing about Lord of the Rings and didn't read the books and you went to the movies, you could still enjoy it without knowing much at all about the geography of Middle Earth or what the races are. It just depends on where your suspension of disbelief is and where you're able to take that leap from.
Warcraft made loads of money in China.
China was awesome, obviously. It's still a hotbed of Warcraft-playing. We actually had incredible success in most of Europe, too. The UK, similar to the US, got down on the film fairly early on. But in Russia, Germany, France, Spain, pretty much any European country, and in China and Korea, we did incredibly well. A lot of people like to quote the numbers that we did in China but we did just as much money and the rest of Europe. It made good money around the world and was really enjoyed around the world, too.
What are Americans missing?
I think there might have been an element of cynicism. There's a condiment that you can put on toast in the UK called Marmite. Their advertising campaign is that you either love it or hate it. I think Warcraft has a similar history in that a lot of guys and girls out there have had their relationships broken up because their significant others played too much Warcraft or for whatever other reason they don't like Warcraft because of a rivalry with another game they prefer. 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.
You fought through a lot.
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.