With around 7 million subscribers as of March 2015, Blizzard’s World of Warcraft remains the biggest MMO around, and the bar by which success in the genre is measured. Beginning with the popular real-time strategy games that preceded the MMO incarnation, millions of players have been adventuring across the realms of Azeroth for over 20 years, and its rich mythology has been expanded even further via tie-in novels, comics, and other pop culture. In 2016, Warcraft‘s legend will expand even further with the release of the first Warcraft movie, a mega-budget would-be blockbuster that hopes to carve out success to rival the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies.
Blizzard first announced development on the Warcraft movie in 2006, partnering with Legendary Pictures (Interstellar, Godzilla) to bring the insanely popular game to the big screen. For a while Sam Raimi was on-board to direct, but he left the project in July 2012, clearing the way for Duncan Jones (Moon) to claim the director’s chair. With release slated for June 10, 2016, Warcraft fans are a little over a year away from seeing Azeroth come to life in theaters, but now they can get a first look at one of the film’s main characters above: the orc warchief Orgrim Doomhammer.
Blizzard and Legedary premiered this first look image at the menacing Orgrim via Wired. The wizards at Industrial Light and Magic merged concept art from Blizzard with the likeness of actor Robert Kazinsky (Pacific Rim) to bring Orgrim to life. Jones told Wired, “We’ve gone beyond the point where these are just creatures in movies. We now have the technology and the ability to make new characters entirely.”
For most moviegoers, the word “orc” is synonymous with the nefarious creatures from Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies, but Warcraft will be presenting a very different — and certainly more nuanced — take on the creatures. In LOTR, orcs were purely evil tools, without any redeeming qualities. The Warcraft film will focus on the earliest meetings between humans and orcs, but will give due diligence to both the Alliance and the Horde’s side of the story. The film’s primary focus on the Horde side of things will be Durotan (played by actor Toby Kebbell), chieftain of the exiled Frostwolf clan. Orgrim is Durotan’s right-hand man, and a figure whose legacy stretches throughout the history of Warcraft.
In addition to playing Jaeger pilot Chuck Hansen in Pacific Rim, Robert Kazinsky has appeared in HBO’s True Blood, the British series EastEnders, and is playing the lead in Fox’s upcoming Frankenstein pilot. As for how he won the role of the fierce Orgrim, Jones told Wired, “We were looking for someone who would be able to perform the gruffness, the humor, and the toughness of this character.” As has been proven by masterful motion-capture performer Andy Serkis (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) having the right actor in place is key to making CGI characters work, and with half the movie resting on the shoulders of the Horde characters, it will be crucial for Warcraft‘s orcs to engage and interest moviegoers just as much as their human counterparts.
The Warcraft cast also includes Travis Fimmel, Dominic Cooper as Sir Anduin Lothar, Dominic Cooper as King Llane Wrynn, Ben Foster as Magus Medivh, Clancy Brown as Blackhand, and Paula Patton as Garona Halforcen. Director Duncan Jones wrote the script with Charles Leavitt, a veteran screenwriter whose resume includes Seventh Son and K-PAX. Warcraft will hit theaters on June 10, 2016.