Is Movie “Magic” Possible with a Trading Card Game?

14 Jan

Magic the Gathering

Magic the Gathering is a trading card game that studio 20th Century Fox is daring to gamble their fortunes on, just for a movie.

The news broke on The Hollywood Reporter and some reactions from the fandom may well be mixed. I played the game when it first came out, and I enjoyed it for what it was before it became expensive to maintain. I imagined a world that was filled with mages who can control the elements, summon monsters and go Fantasia against another opponent.

There were some good concepts that were created to make this imaginative version of poker more than profitable for Wizards of the Coast and pocketable for the masses who can enjoy a game anywhere. The same crowd is what the studio is hoping to draw into the theater. If the film becomes a mega-success, the additional products that can be sold under this license can even make Warner Bros. green with envy or red with rage.

My thoughts center on the possibility that Magic the Gathering the movie can potentially fall by the wayside and become another badly executed franchise to film product. Remember Dungeons and Dragons? Three films were made and while the theatrical direction and execution did get better in a mostly direct to video release, they were not titles I kept in my collection long. I sometimes buy a DVD just to see how good or bad an idea went. Only the really good movies stay in my collection and the rest get traded/sold on the used video market. Sadly, not many (limited edition) videos rise in value. Everyone knows that the shops buy the card for nearly one-quarter the value and it gets marked up by 150% so money is made and then some.

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Magic the Gathering, the card game, is just as lucrative. In the collector’s market, certain cards can be sold for more than the value of the card stock. Much like the original game’s ruling, to pull off a successful movie will be a gamble. 20th Century Fox will have to ante up some huge amounts of money to attract the right talent to be in this film and pull off some impressive CGI effects. The plot technically should entail two dueling wizards vying for power in some corner of Dominia or in the multiverse. When this world is basically that of high fantasy with many historical periods to cover, the sky’s the limit as for what can get developed to screen.

At least the talent hired to produce the film is top-notch. Simon Kinberg (X-Men, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Sherlock Holmes) wrote some entertaining products in the past but there were no details given if he is tapped to write for this film. One can only hope. But for this project that aspires to be as grandiose as the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter films, that’s going to be one tough achievement to top. This new movie franchise will take at least two years to develop before a film gets made. My guess is that a movie may not materialize until 2016/2017.

If 20th Century Fox and Wizards of the Coast (Hasbro) are wise, they should target a mutual release of a film and tie-in card release in 2018, the 25th anniversary of the card game.

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