With Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves in theaters and Critical Role’s animated series The Legend of Vox Machina fresh off its second season, it feels like D&D onscreen is having a particularly mainstream moment. Is this just the start of a bigger D&D screen franchise? Is Honor Among Thieves headed for a sequel, a movie series, or a bunch of spinoffs? Polygon asked writer-directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein what form they’d like to see future D&D stories take.
“I think stop-motion,” Daley says, without hesitation. “Rankin/Bass style, a total throwback.”
Daley means it as a joke. But it isn’t the worst idea, given stop-motion animation’s recent micro-boom: A new Netflix movie from Nightmare Before Christmas director Henry Selick and Guillermo del Toro’s extremely dark, Oscar-nominated take on Pinocchio both arrived late last year, and 2023 will see a new Chicken Run sequel and two new Wes Anderson films that will reportedly include stop-motion. Any form of animation might be a good approach for Dungeons & Dragons’ rich fantasy worlds. But Daley and Goldstein aren’t actually thinking about next steps quite yet.
Will Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves get a sequel?
“It was never our intention when we came on board this film to make a franchise,” Daley says. “I think that would cloud our ability to focus entirely on the film at hand. The cardinal mistake many studios make is to put the cart before the horse, where they start crafting a cinematic universe before they even make a good single film. So first and foremost for us was getting this right.”
That’s a refreshing attitude in a world where studios keep forgetting to start small and build a fandom organically, instead of trying to kickstart a 10-year mega-blockbuster plan with every new movie. That said, with Honor Among Thieves out, of course the directors are thinking about where they’d like to see these characters go next.
Goldstein says if they had carte blanche to do anything with the D&D world, they’d probably stick with the party they establish in Honor Among Thieves: Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Justice Smith, and Sophia Lillis as an adventuring crew who forge some personal connections over the course of the story.
“The good thing about a sequel is, you don’t have to spend much screen time introducing [the party],” he says. “The audience knows them, and you can jump into the plot more quickly. And obviously, we have great affection for both the actors and these roles that they play. But we’d want to introduce some new figures along the way, and certainly a lot of new monsters.”
“And new locations,” Daley adds.
“Yeah, you know, we did the Forgotten Realms for this one, partly because it’s kind of a recognizable medieval setting,” Goldstein says. “But there are so many worlds within D&D that we could explore.”
“Now that we’ve finished it, and we’re relying on the fates to decide if this thing is a success, we would absolutely love to continue to tell stories in this world,” Daley says. “We think it’s absolutely ripe with potential.”
What would Honor Among Thieves 2 look like?
Part of that potential, Daley says, is a core element of Dungeons & Dragons that doesn’t come up in their movie: “I think if we were lucky enough to do another one of these, we would want to see our characters level up.” In Honor Among Thieves, Pine’s bard character Edgin never uses magic (for reasons the directors explained to us for our larger look at the movie’s choices), but Daley thinks in a sequel, he’d probably add spells to his repertoire. “That would be kind of exciting to see,” he says.
Goldstein says that when the two men were planning the movie — which lists them as co-writers alongside collaborator Michael Gilio, with a story by Gilio and Chris McKay — they asked Wizards of the Coast for “a list of the 30 biggest fan-favorite creatures” to give them ideas. “And then we had the freedom to select what we should feature.”
When is Drizzt getting a D&D movie?
And then there’s one of fandom’s biggest questions about Dungeons & Dragons screen stories: When is fan-favorite character Drizzt Do’urden getting his own movie or TV show? Could he turn up in an Honor Among Thieves sequel or spinoff?
“Drizzt did come up, actually, as we were figuring out what our first film was going to be,” Daley says. “But the general consensus was to not go there yet. That said, he’s definitely a popular character in the world, and one who could be exciting to explore.”
“How about a movie where Drizzt meets the ’80s characters?” Goldstein asks, referring to the Saturday morning cartoon characters from the 1980s, who feature in a maze sequence in one of Honor Among Thieves’ geekiest references.
“And the ’80s characters are horribly maimed after their experience in the maze?” Daley laughs.
That seems even less likely than a stop-motion D&D movie. But for Daley, this kind of imaginative toying with the possibilities of WOTC properties is part of the fun of a D&D story. “There are so many characters in this world,” he says. “It would be really fun either to have them join the group we’ve established, or do some sort of an offshoot of our film, to get into their backstories.”
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