Will player boycotts hurt the forthcoming D&D movie?

Originally published at: Will player boycotts hurt the forthcoming D&D movie? | Boing Boing

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No matter how popular D&D is right now, roleplaying games are still a niche hobby. And a successful, blockbuster film is marketed primarily to general mass audiences.

Personally, I wonder whether a successful D&D movie would mean much to the RPG industry as a whole, or even to the D&D game itself. Marvel movies rarely caused much of an uptick in sales in Marvel comics – and it’s a much bigger investment in money and time to get into RPGs than to get into comics.


I think a boycott is going to sink the movie. A lot people who play D&D and other RPG games like Pathfinder would most like have gone to seen it. As well as people who played D&D long ago. I also think people who are avid fantasy readers would also be interested in seeing the movie. But may not since they probably have friends and family who may be RPG players and would like to support them. This may likely break Hasbro badly. Even though Gordon Gecko said “Greed is good”, it does have fallout.


The friends I made playing d&d are very important to me. A couple have worked for TSR or WOTC, and they and some acquaintances work or have worked for third party companies. I don’t want to support a company that would backstab my party members.


RPGOpenSurvey com has some quotes about this:

I am wholly disappointed in Hasbro and by extension the leadership of WotC. The have single handedly divided the whole TTRPG community into camps solely in order to get “a bigger piece of the pie”. Shame on you Hasbro/WotC.

I have next to no faith in WotC truthfully presenting accurate information from their survey. They have a direction they have committed a vast amount of resources towards. Thank you for the opportunity to speak out in a manner I believe will be heard.

i will not trust WOTC ever again. i wil spend my $$$ elsewhere.

I think the community really needs to take a step back and stop the witch hunt. We’ve caught the wizards with their pants down, now it’s time sit down and discuss with them in a calm manner to explain why they need to keep their pants on, instead of immediately attempting to castrate them in the main square with a guillotine.

As a frequent D&D player, I wasn’t even planning on seeing it before WotC beefed the new OGL.


I’m not convinced the license issue is even enough to get a sizable number of D&D players to boycott anything beyond the subscription service that was being directly impacted, much less a movie. (These kind of fandom “boycotts” almost always end up amounting to nothing, as even most of the people noisily insisting they’re going to boycott something, don’t.)

And of course the movie isn’t designed for, or being marketed to, D&D players. Yes, they’re the “core” audience - in theory - but plenty of movies have completely alienated the fans of the source material while still being hits. So even if the license issue was preventing RPG players from seeing the movie, I don’t think it would have much of an impact. In the end, I rather suspect the success or failure of the movie will be completely independent of the license issue.

Yeah - in the video, he makes the case that Disney doesn’t give a toss about the comic book readers, as they’re such an insignificant percentage of the intended audience. That’s true of all big-budget movies. (Or even medium-budget movies like this one.) The counter-argument is, I guess, that D&D players represent a core audience that can sway the reception of the film, as they’re the ones who will show up on opening week and make noise about the movie on social media that drives non-gamers to see it. I’m unconvinced by this counter-argument, myself. Some films, in their marketing campaigns, actively reach out and successfully bring in fans of the source material, but most don’t even bother (and make movies that don’t appeal to the fans of the source material), and it doesn’t seem to have a noticeable impact either way.


That’s an interesting take, given that the MCU is the best example I can think of for faithful adaptations. The MCU stuff is essentially an exercise is figuring out what fans of Character like about Character, and putting that onscreen. Contrast something like Man of Steel or most of the Transformers franchise, where it feels like the filmmakers actually don’t like the source material at all, and are trying to fix perceived problems. That those films were still quite successful despite this shows that the core fans don’t really matter to the bottom line, of course.


I think I’m in this category. I like D&D, I play it occasionally, and there is nothing in the proposed changes* that would make me boycott a movie, much less a Chris Pine movie. The biggest problem would be getting me into a theater, which I have not done since pre-covid, I have been SPOILED with movie streaming at home.

(*before someone tries to mansplain it to me, I just re-read it again to clarify. No, I get it, and yeah, it’s a corporation being all corporate, but that’s what they do)


Though all this can be true simultaneously. If one is making a movie that requires a large audience to make money, you have to appeal to a much broader segment of the population than is reading the comic/playing the game. Targeting the core isn’t going to sell tickets - your target audience needs to be much broader, so alienating that core audience doesn’t matter. On the other hand, that doesn’t mean you throw out what make the source material popular - you’re adapting it for a reason. Figuring out why a character/story was popular and letting that inform the adaptation seems like it would be a pretty fundamental part of any adaptation (even though it’s not the case). Though a complication arises in that a fundamental part of this is that you think even more people would like the material if it were transformed into… something else.

The MCU isn’t afraid to do things that piss off current readers of the comics in favor of taking elements from past comics (or from outside the comics) - current readers of the comics are outnumbered by former readers, not to mention those who have never read the comics. When you look at something like Superman - there’s a high number of people who have a pretty solid notion of who Superman is, but none of it is based on any recent decades of the comics (or the comics at all, directly). So you can alienate much of the viewing audience by clashing with that understanding, even if the material is entirely based on comic runs of the last 50 years.

Where a lot of bad comic book/game movies have fallen down is that the people making the movie didn’t understand the appeal - and sometimes had actual contempt for - the source material, which carried over into the movie itself. If the people making the movie don’t know why anyone would want to watch the movie, it’s not going to appeal to anyone very much.

Yeah, I haven’t played/bought any D&D products (or associated third party goods) in a very long time, so I have only the vaguest understanding of the controversy as… I don’t really care. (Though I confess I also more or less wrote off TSR when they got bought by Hasbro.) But I’d see a D&D movie - by which I mean I’d watch it on streaming or DVD, eventually, because it looks like it might be fun. (Which is how I’ve watched all movies for more than a decade, now.) Unless it gets bad reviews. I suspect there are far more people like me - even among gamers - than who care enough to boycott over the license issue.

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