Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves kicked off at San Diego Comic-Con on Thursday as the first panel held in the huge Hall H, accompanied by a fantastic trailer and a slew of A-list stars.
Chris Pine – with chin-length blonde hair – Michelle Rodriguez, Rare-Jean Page, Sophia Lillis and Hugh Grant took the stage to rapturous applause. In addition to the trailer, viewers were treated to two clips from an unfinished film filmed in Northern Ireland during the UK lockdown. Pine described the film as having a “Spielberg energy” and Grant said it had a “Monty Python vibe”.
The trailer features Pine (as a bard), Rodriguez (as a barbarian), Justice Smith (as a sorcerer), and Lillis (as a druid) as a gang of thieves trying to right a wrong that has brought great evil to their land. They encounter all sorts of fantastical creatures – and Page, in the form of a dashing paladin, who (apparently) joins their quest.
However, unlike the solemn and intense trailers of the recent fantasy series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and The House of the Dragon, the Dungeons & Dragons trailer has a much looser and light-hearted tone, characteristic of the final shot of Pine gleefully playing on the his lute.
In one of the long cutscenes (shown only in Hall H), the characters move through the maze while several other teams try to get through it. Writer/director John Francis Daly said that the film features dozens of monsters and creatures, as well as dozens of spells. The filmmakers worked with game publisher Wizards of the Coast to make sure the lore was true.
The footage also showed a preempting beast – essentially a panther that can project its own image – and a gelatinous cube – essentially a giant gelatinous (and deadly) cube. The directors have teased that the film features at least one cameo from a famous D&D player, as well as several easter eggs from the game.
“I wasn’t a huge D&D fan, but my 13-year-old nephew is a great player,” said Pine, who played Egin in the film. He said the film “feels open, light and upbeat”.
“It was amazing to see my whole family light up like this,” he added of his whole family playing with his nephew. “It slowly snowballed and after three hours you forgot you didn’t want to.”
“[It’s] a game that should be played in every high school in the country,” Pine said. “You can get a bully and an athlete – of course, I’m only speaking in John Hughes terms – and I guarantee you no one will remember what class they are from.”
“I just wanted to spread the D&D gospel,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, Rodriguez insisted, “You can’t grow up in Jersey without playing D&D.”
“It just brought back all these memories of my childhood in the basement fooling around with my friends,” she said. “I think RPGs are cool and more people should be doing them.”
Rodriguez put on 10 pounds of muscle to play the barbarian Holda.
Page, who portrays the paladin Xenok, said that he has always been “adjacent to D&D”, gravitating towards “Chrono Trigger” and “Diablo”.
“Basically, I grew up as Eddie Munson,” Page said, referring to the Stranger Things season 4 character, social outcast and D&D enthusiast. “I know something about the escapist fantasy that gives you no limits.”
Page also underwent extensive training for the film, including stance and sword training.
“My thighs were killing me and I had the best ass of my life,” he said.
Lillis was such an avid fan of the game as a teenager that after moving in, she traveled 20 minutes back to her old high school to play at her school’s D&D club.
When moderator Carl Jacobs said that his notes indicated that Grant had always been a big fan of D&D, Rodriguez joked, “I think you’ve got it mixed up with S&M.”
“She’s not wrong,” Hugh replied to the roar of laughter from colleagues and the public. “I have been a passionate dungeon master for many years. This is British entertainment. National sport, almost. I think that’s why the Jonathans thought of me.” Grant will play a con man named Forge Fletcher.
Chloe Coleman, Jason Wong and Daisy Head round out the all-star cast.
Jacobs, a Twitch streamer and co-host of the “Banter With Sapnap and Karl Jacobs” podcast, unveiled a behind-the-scenes clip that played with a few glitches before the cast came out.
“The sight of your faces reminds us why we are doing this. Thank you for being here,” said writer/director Jonathan Goldstein at the start of the event.
“We both have a long history with Dungeons & Dragons,” said Goldstein, who played the first edition with his brother, who “always killed” him.
Daly found out about D&D because his character was a fan of the game from the cult series Freaks and Geeks. “It’s not just a game, it’s the feeling you get when you play a game,” he said.
Eddie Ibrahim, director of programming for Comic-Con International, opened the panel.
“It was three years since we’ve been in this room together! Ibrahim said before spinning the Paramount Pictures presentation.
The film is based on the popular tabletop role-playing game in which players can create their own wizards, fighters, monks, and other heroes to take on all sorts of fantasy beasts, trolls, necromancers, and more. The game has exploded in popularity recently, thanks to shows such as Netflix’s Stranger Things and Critical Role web series, which has been turned into an Amazon Prime Video animated show titled The Legend of Vox Machina.
In 2020 Diversity dived deep into Joe Manganiello’s famous Dungeons & Dragons campaign, which included Vince Vaughn, Tom Morello, Game of Thrones co-creator D.B. Weiss and others.
Goldstein and Daley, who directed the hit 2018 comedy Game Night and wrote the screenplays for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, Horrible Bosses and Vacation Friends, are directing the film. Written by Goldstein, Daly and Michael Gilio, based on a story by Gilio with Chris McKay. The project is being produced by Jeremy Latcham (who was also present), Brian Goldner and Nick Meyer, and executive produced by Denis L. Stewart, Goldstein, Daly, Pine, Zev Foreman and Greg Muradian.
Entertainment One and Sweetpea Entertainment are producing Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, which will be released in theaters on March 3, 2023.
Check out the dynamic trailer below.
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