Why Chris McKay Left Dungeons & Dragons: Full Details Revealed!

Chris McKay, the original director of Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, has finally clarified why he left the project. 

The movie adaptation of the popular board game boasts a renowned cast exploring the Forgotten Realms campaign from the game. 

McKay and Mike Gilio were the original scriptwriters of the film. After McKay left the project, new directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein took over to bring the fantasy world to reality.

In his interview with Collider, McKay explains why he decided to leave Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. As someone who has been a fan of the game for a long time, he expresses his enthusiasm for the newest adaptation. 

However, he had to let go of the project as he shifted his focus towards directing his first live-action film, Tomorrow War, starring Chris Pratt. Read McKay’s complete statement below.

Yeah, I was a huge D&D kid. I was approached to direct that movie, and I started developing it, and what we were developing—Mike Gilio and I, the writer I was working with—we were sort of developing a heist movie. Like, how can you make this sort of an Ocean’s Eleven-type film. Because a lot of what you’re doing in D&D is you’re going into a place, and you’re going to take something to rid it of some bad guy or something, and it’s usually a little of both. And those movies are usually like, ‘we’re gonna try to steal something,’ but there’s also a dishonorable purpose and an honorable purpose, and a potential choice to make at some point in the movie. And so that was kind of the way that we went about it, and we developed a treatment that the studio liked, and Mike went off and wrote a really great script. And while I was developing that, Tomorrow War came along, and it was a movie that had a window with Chris Pratt’s schedule, and they needed a director, and it was about four or five months before they were going to shoot it. So I kinda had to make a choice, and I kind of jumped on that, which then put the script and everything that we had done as kind of jump ball for some other directors to take it. I think, from what I understand—I’ve still not seen the finished movie because I’ve been working on Renfield—but I hear [there are] a lot of the scenes that Mike and I worked on and then Mike wrote that are in the movie or at least some versions of them. So I’m excited that they sort of continue, at least somewhat in that direction. But I got to design dragons and things like that for the movie. So there [were] all sorts of dream come true stuff, and I really love fantasy. I grew up on a lot of the Excalibur, Sorcerer, and that sort of thing.

So to be able to do something in that world, but also try to tell it through a modern lens, and try to do it through a heist, like it’s this heist team going in, and then the specialist who can do this stuff, and supposed to do that, and that kind of thing, that, to me, was a lot of fun, to just imagine what that would have been and how you can shoot that in a fun, kinetic way. But I can’t wait to see that movie. I really have heard only good things about it, and yeah, it looks great. And the fact that [there are] like Beholders and things like that they put in the movie, and bugbears and owlbears, that was kind of what we did. We literally were like, “OK, let’s open up the monster manual, and how many of these monsters can we get into this movie somehow.” It looks like they kind of took that ball and ran with it. So I’m excited.

Daley and Goldstein are now in charge of directing the film, and the duo has tweaked many intricate details to suit their style.

They have revised the original vision of Gilio and McKay by creating a new script based on their initial draft. The directing duo has prioritized focusing on the movie’s tone and steering clear of the franchise’s previous missteps. 

McKay had a similar approach by introducing a fantasy realm-inspired plot with an Ocean’s Eleven-inspired twist.

Why Chris McKay Left Dungeons & Dragons: Full Details Revealed!
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Daley and Goldstein’s goal was to create a film that struck a balance between not taking itself too seriously and not being too silly. 

They recognized that finding a tone that was both fun and grounded was essential to capture the spirit of the beloved game. 

To achieve this, Daley and Goldstein modified the original heist plot from McKay and Gilio’s script. They made it into a perfect concoction of all the essential elements needed to make the iconic franchise great. 

The team of thieves gave the movie a lighthearted vibe, while the heist offered a familiar plot for viewers to follow.

Daley and Goldstein, too, are huge fans of the canon game. They were keen on staying true to the Dungeons & Dragons lore by including a plethora of monsters and hidden surprises throughout the movie.

However, they also ensured that the plot didn’t become too complex for general audiences by avoiding excessive world-building. 

The early reviews for the movie have been mostly positive, indicating that the change in creative direction didn’t harm either of their visions.

About Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Dungeons & Dragons is an upcoming American fantasy-adventure film written and directed by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, based on the RPG of the same name and reboot of the film series of the same name.

The movie will take place across the Forgotten Realms, following the story of a band of thieves who unknowingly ended up helping in unleashing the greatest evil their world has known. The thieves-turned-heroes must now fix their mistake with the help of magic, courage, and a powerful Tiefling to fight the biggest battle of their lives. 

The film will release on March 31, 2023.

Epic Dope Staff

Epic Dope Staff

Our talented team of Freelance writers - Always on the lookout - pour their energies into a wide range of topics bringing to our audience what they crave - fun up-to-date news, reviews, fan theories and much much more.


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