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The real reason we'll never get a Minecraft movie

In 2014, Microsoft and Mojang joyously announced that Minecraft, the blocky sensation that captured the attention of millions of gamers, would be making the jump to the big screen. At first it seemed like a no-brainer to take one of the most lucrative games in history and squeeze it for all that it was worth. Surely, kids would flock to theaters to see their favorite game, especially after the recent success that was The LEGO Movie. The Minecraft movie seemed set to rake in the cash.

It's now 2020 and the fabled film has yet to appear. What happened? It's almost like the Minecraft movie is a cursed project, destined to never be completed. (Much like a certain Ubisoft film.) To determine why the Minecraft movie may never come to be, you have to examine the six catastrophic years the project spent in pre-production.

The film was first announced as a kind of accident. Markus "Notch" Persson, the creator of Minecraft, tweeted that some ne'er-do-well was trying to leak the fact Mojang and Warner Bros. were teaming up to create the Minecraft movie. He broke the news before anyone else could, and thus the hype train left the station. 

Work on the script started soon after, and the search for a director began. Shawn Levy (who was also involved in a certain Ubisoft film) was the first director to helm this project. He quickly moved on, however, and in his place Rob McElhenney of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia fame stepped up. His position seemed to guarantee that Minecraft: The Movie would be hilarious. McElhenney is pretty dang funny, and a confirmed gamer — perfect for this project.

Initially, the Minecraft movie was set to release in 2018. Clearly, that didn't happen. 2018 was nothing but sorrow for the Minecraft movie production as director Rob McElhenney and writer Jason Fuchs said sayonara. The release was pushed back to an unknown date, but the movie wasn't canceled ... yet. In early 2019, Warner Bros. let fans know there was a new production crew and finally offered a glimpse of what the movie was all about.

The Minecraft movie, should it ever release, will be about a teenage girl and her friends saving the blocky, beautiful Overworld from the destructive, dastardly Ender Dragon. More dastardly has been the long line of writers, producers, and directors who have abandoned the production.

Can you expect a Minecraft movie to happen at all? You would be right to be skeptical. The team has promised the film is just around the corner. As of this writing, the Mincecraft movie is set to hit theaters on March 4, 2022. This gives the production plenty of time to figure things out. As stated in the announcement, "making a live-action, full-length feature film is really complicated."

Though understandable, video game movies also have a certain ... reputation associated with their production. While Detective Pikachu and Sonic the Hedgehog have enjoyed considerable success, many other attempts to bring gaming to the big screen have flopped phenomenally. Remember the Assassin's Creed movie? Warcraft? Rampage? These films tried — and failed — to condense campaigns that lasted dozens of hours into less than two. 

Minecraft is a sandbox adventure, allowing players to create and craft to their hearts' content. Can the spirit of the game be whittled down into the standard runtime of a feature film? Probably not, but Warner Bros. is going to try anyway. The keyword here being "try." 

Another ill omen for this production, other than the fact that it's a video game movie, is that Warner Bros. hasn't revealed much of anything so far: no marketing, no trailers, no sneak previews. It's possible the company is either relying on the good name of Minecraft to sell itself or, worse, that it doesn't have anything worth showing despite the years of work already poured into pre-production.

In short, the Minecraft movie feels like a cash grab turned expensive. Warner Bros. wanted to jump on the latest trend, but that was back in 2014. Although Minecraft is enjoying a renaissance right now, who's to say if the playerbase will persist to the far off date of March 2022? If this movie continues to struggle behind the scenes, it seems unlikely it will ever make it to the big screen.