Now that's smart business: Sam Raimi to direct 'Warcraft' flick

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    Mining for bling in 'World of Warcraft.' Variety reported today that Sam Raimi will direct 'Warcraft,' a live-action film adaptation of the popular video game franchise.
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It's one of the most successful franchises in the history of the video game business. And now, it's going to be a live-action flick. Best of all: the reins of "Warcraft" are being handed to Sam Raimi, the same director at the helm of the "Spider-Man" and "Evil Dead" movies.

According to Variety, which helped break the news this morning, Sam Raimi has signed on to direct a movie adaption of "World of Warcraft," an online role-playing game manufactured by Blizzard Entertainment.

You've got to hand it to the folks over at Legendary Pictures, which will produce the movie along with Blizzard Entertainment: they know a sure-fire hit when they see one. "World of Warcraft" has a subscriber base of more than 11.5 million world wide, and the game is by far the largest attraction in the online gaming market.

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"Warcraft" is "emblematic of the kind of branded, event films for which our studio is best known," Warner Bros. Pictures Group president Jeff Robinov told Variety. (Warner Brothers has a longstanding deal with the Legendary studios, and will be involved in the "Warcraft" movie.)

Over at PC World, Matt Peckham crunches some quick numbers:

If Blizzard's North American subscriber bases is around 3 million users (estimating generously up from a 2.5 million claim in January 2008) and the average cost of a ticket (per the MPAA) is around $7.18, and we assume those 3 million claimed users – active or no – are enthused enough to show up in the first week, you're looking at around $22 million in fan-funded US ticket sales alone.

And that's not even counting the Raimi fanboys who will show up to just see the maestro's latest work.

"From our first conversation with Sam, we could tell he was the perfect choice," Paul Sams, Blizzard's chief operating officer, told the MMORPG Blog. "Sam knows how to simultaneously satisfy the enthusiasts and the mainstream audience that might be experiencing that content for the first time. We're looking forward to working with him to achieve that here."

The reception from the blogosphere was fast and furious, with hundreds of "WoW" fans voicing their support.

"My first impression is that this is great news, unquestionably so," First Showing's Alex Billington wrote. "They could have easily gotten any number of incapable directors, ranging from Uwe Boll to Stephen Sommers, but they chose to go with someone who, I believe, is truly a great filmmaker."

(The italics belong to Billington.)

Billington wasn't alone in his excitement. Earlier today, actor and comedian Rainn Wilson took to his Twitter feed to plead for a part in "Warcraft." "Dear Sam Raimi," Wilson wrote, "please cast me in your new Warcraft movie. I was born to play Sorcerer-thane Gimloc the Fierce. Or just a simple Blood Elf."

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Big "Warcraft" fan? Talk it up here, or find us on Twitter, @CSMHorizonsblog.

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