By Oliver Gettell
6:53 PM PST, January 14, 2014
Comedic actor Jack Black and his Electric Dynamite production company have acquired the rights to remake "Wizard's Way," a low-budget British movie about two nerds obsessed with an aging online fantasy video game.
Black will also serve as an executive producer on the original "Wizard's Way," which is written and directed by Joe Stretch, Socrates Adams and Chris Killen and makes its North American premiere at the Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, this weekend.
In many ways, "Wizard's Way" calls to mind the 2007 documentary "The King of Kong." That film similarly turned its lens on a subculture obsessed with old-school video games, premiered at Slamdance and was optioned for a scripted remake. (The remake seems to have stalled, though "King of Kong" director Seth Gordon told Collider last year that "it's not dead.")
But there's one major element that separates "Wizard's Way" from "The King of Kong" — fiction. "Wizard's Way" is a mockumentary. The titular game featured in the movie is fictitious, and the filmmakers themselves play three of the principal characters.
While there's some precedent for scripted adaptations of real documentaries — last year, for example, Benson Lee remade his own "Planet B-Boy" as "Battle of the Year" — it seems slightly odder to remake a fake one. The new version apparently is being developed as a straight narrative project, though wouldn't that lose some of what makes the original unique? Can you imagine remaking "This Is Spinal Tap" as a straight comedy, for example?
Time will tell whether Black -- who with "School of Rock" and Tenacious D has shown a knack for skewering subcultures -- can find a fresh angle on the material. For now, you can watch the "Wizard's Way" trailer on Vimeo. [Warning: The video contains an expletive.]
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