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Akiva Goldsman Signs With WME After Parting Company With CAA

By | Monday June 2, 2014 @ 12:52pm PDT
Mike Fleming

goldsmanEXCLUSIVE: Over the weekend, Oscar-winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman and agents at CAA reached loggerheads and made a mutual decision to part company. Today, he has signed with WME. The move will come as a surprise to some because Goldsman had been a CAA client for so long and is a close friend of agency head Richard Lovett, but the way it was described to me, they realized the relationship had run its course. Abruptly.

Related: Akiva Goldsman & Jeff Pinkner To Adapt Movie ‘Ghost’ As Series For Paramount TV

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Cannes: Brian Grazer, Ron Howard Introduce Imagine 2.0; A Pele Pic On The Croisette, A Crowd-Funded ‘Friday Night Lights’, ‘Dark Tower’, Jay-Z And One Angry White Whale

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE:When Imagine Entertainment partners Brian Grazer and Ron Howard re-upped in their 26th year at Universal in early 2012, like all studio term producers they watched the deal get smaller. They also went from exclusive to first look and while that might have humbled less energetic founders who’d made 50 films for the same studio, Grazer and Howard took it as license to tap into new avenues of distribution and funding to be more productive than ever.

Consider that while Howard tinkers with the finished Formula One drama Rush and casts the Warner Bros adaptation of the Nathaniel Philbrick novel In The Heart Of The Sea with Chris Hemsworth, Grazer is on the Croisette, beating the drum for a Pele biopic to be directed by The Two Escobars helmer Jeff Zimbalist and his brother Michael. Grazer and production president Kim Roth called the film a close cousin to the search for genius depicted in 8 Mile, only here it’s a dirt-poor kid’s journey from being part of the Shoeless Wonders (a band of soccer wunderkinds too poor to afford shoes) to a phenom who at 17 led Brazil to the World Cup. Grazer and his partners will have the film ready by the time the world is whipped into a frenzy for World Cup action next year.

* While they’ve temporarily halted the move to turn Jack Bauer loose in a 24 feature, they’ve instead decided to bring him back in a limited series, this after selling an Arrested Development revival directly to Netflix. Grazer tells me they are absolutely moving forward with a movie version of another Imagine series, Friday Night Lights, and they will likely use crowdfunding to directly tap the rabid fan base of that drama for some of the budget. “We made a terrific feature with Pete Berg, turned it into a terrific TV series and will now make a movie from that series,” Grazer said. “I’m not sure such a thing has been done before.” Read More »

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‘Ted’ Backer MRC In Talks To Finance Stephen King’s ‘The Dark Tower’

Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Media Rights Capital is in serious talks to take on The Dark Tower after Warner Bros declined to make what potentially amounts to three feature films and two limited run TV series. MRC’s Modi Wiczyk is a big fan of the Stephen King novel series, I hear, and the company is eager to capitalize on the positive momentum they got from developing and financing the Seth MacFarlane-directed summer sleeper hit Ted with Mark Wahlberg. MRC next has the Neill Blomkamp-directed Elysium with Matt Damon, and the company has the capital to back an ambitious project like The Dark Tower with director Ron Howard eyeing Russell Crowe as the gunslinger Roland Deschain and his quest to travel through a Western-style world woven with magic to find the Dark Tower, mankind’s only hope. Akiva Goldsman adapted the book and is producing along with Brian Grazer and Stephen King. Even though MRC was unavailable to comment, I expect this deal to make quickly. MRC has a distribution arrangement with Universal, but it’s unclear whether that studio would release the film. Universal developed it but passed on making the project before it moved to Warner Bros.

EARLIER, 5:02 PM: Warner Bros took the easy out and has passed on The Dark Tower, the ambitious multi-platform adaptation of Stephen King’s novel series. After getting an overhauled script from Oscar winning scribe Akiva Goldsman, the studio just balked on the project that Ron Howard … Read More »

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Warner Bros Has ‘Dark Tower’ Decision Looming: And Russell Crowe Is In The Mix

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: I’m told that Warner Bros is getting a new script from Akiva Goldsman for the first installment of Stephen King’s mammoth Western The Dark Tower, and that within two weeks, the studio will be making a decision on whether to green light the first leg of one of the most daring and ambitious projects to come along since The Lord Of The Rings. And here is a new wrinkle to add to the mix. Javier Bardem is no longer in the mix as gunslinger Roland Deschain. I’m told that director Ron Howard and producers Brian Grazer and Goldsman have been talking with their A Beautiful Mind star Russell Crowe about playing Deschain. While there is no deal with Crowe, that is the star that Warner Bros will be evaluating as the studio decides on whether to take a leap on an eight-volume book that has a huge following, with Howard, King and their partners planning a multi-platform presentation that could be unforgettable. The story will be told through three films and two limited run TV series.

The Dark Tower is about the last living member of a knightly order of gunslingers, with Deschain becoming humanity’s last hope to save civilization as he hits the road to find the Dark Tower. Along the way, he encounters characters, good and bad, in a world that has an Old West feel. When I last wrote about this, Universal had dropped out and Warner Bros had sparked to the idea of taking on this franchise, possibly with HBO handling the TV component that would bridge the the first and second feature films, with another limited run TV series to follow. Given HBO’s adventurous forays into fantasy with Game of Thrones, it seems like the ideal venue. Read More »

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Warner Bros In Talks For Stephen King’s ‘The Dark Tower’; Will Javier Bardem Saddle Up?

By | Monday March 12, 2012 @ 5:03pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Javier Bardem Stephen King The Dark TowerEXCLUSIVE: When Universal Pictures said no to making three feature films and two limited-run TV series from Stephen King’s mammoth post-apocalyptic Western The Dark Tower, the partners in the film all pledged they were going to find a way to get a movie made. Well, I hear that Warner Bros is now very close to a deal that will give Ron Howard the chance to direct at least the first feature, potentially with Javier Bardem starring as gunslinger Roland Deschain. And Akiva Goldsman (who wrote the script) is producing with Brian Grazer and the author.

Basically the studio bought Goldsman’s script and are paying him to do a polish. Howard remains attached to direct, likely in first-quarter 2013. Pic is a co-production between Goldsman’s Weed Road and Howard and Grazer’s Imagine. Bardem’s participation would depend upon his availability, but he was firmly attached when the project was at Universal.

That is an amazing development for fans of the book and for a movie that has been searching for new backing since Universal let it go last July. Back then, Universal was deciding on three features and the two TV segments, which was perhaps the most ambitious movie project since Peter Jackson shot three installments of The Lord Of The Rings back to back. Read More »

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‘Arthur & Lancelot’ In Warner Bros Budget Crisis: Projected $130M Cost Too High

Mike Fleming

STUNNER! Legendary Pictures Postpones January Start Of ‘Paradise Lost’

EXCLUSIVE: Legendary Pictures’ Paradise Lost isn’t the only film being readied on the Warner Bros lot to face a budget crisis. Arthur & Lancelot, the David Dobkin script that Warner Bros paid $2 million to acquire last summer, won’t get made unless the budget drops dramatically. I’m told that even though Warner Bros dated the film for a March 15, 2013 release and cast Game of Thrones’ Kit Harington to play Arthur and The Killing‘s Joel Kinnaman to play Lancelot, the back and forth on budget has gotten to the point that the studio has invited Dobkin to set the picture up elsewhere if he can. I’ve heard that what started as a $90 million (other sources said Warners would make it for $110 million) contemporary style re-imagining of the Sword And The Stone tale has a budget the studio fears could reach $130 million. The studio feels that is just too much for a movie with two unproven leads. After the year’s wild box office swings and last weekend’s paltry performance, who can blame Warner Bros for being cautious?

It is obviously a Warner Bros goal to tell the story of Arthur, Lancelot and the Knights of the Roundtable, because the Dobkin spec supplanted two others that the studio had in development. The studio is keen to see through Dobkin’s version of the film (the spec deal allowed Dobkin … Read More »

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Has ‘Dark Tower’ Found A TV Home?

By | Tuesday October 25, 2011 @ 11:53am PDT

Well, maybe it’s not official, but Brian Grazer said during an interview with MTV News that the TV portion of Imagine Entertainment’s adaptation of The Dark Tower will air on HBO. “We’ll do the TV with HBO and the movie with … to be determined,” Grazer said during an interview to promote Tower Heist. That would cover the two limited-run TV series that would be done alongside a film trilogy to tell Stephen King’s epic story, which was originally set up at Universal before the studio passed because of cost concerns. (Grazer’s Imagine partner Ron Howard was set to direct and Akiva Goldsman was writing.) Grazer also told MTV that Javier Bardem looks good to remain as the lead, gunslinger Roland Deschain, and that $45 million has been cut from the film budget. But don’t set your DVR just yet: While a potential Time Warner tie-up — HBO and, say, Warner Bros — makes sense for the ambitious project, we’ve learned that while the series have been pitched to HBO, there is no deal. We also hear that there has been no decision made about where a potential Dark Tower series would land or whether it would get made it all.

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Jonathan Demme Deals For Stephen King’s JFK Book As Author Heats Up H’wood Again

It looks like Jonathan Demme is the latest big name to jump on a Stephen King project, with the director confirmed to have picked up rights to King’s yet-to-be-released novel 11/22/63, about a teacher who travels back in time in an attempt to stop John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Demme, who recently signed with WME after seven years at ICM, is expected to write, produce and direct the adaptation. King’s new book (it comes out in November) and movie deal is just the latest for the horror-thriller icon, who in the 1980s and ’90s saw pretty much everything he wrote turn into a movie. Now, he’s really back in the Hollywood spotlight: Of course there’s the author’s seminal seven-book The Dark Tower, which Universal was flirting with adapting into three features and two limited-run TV series; he studio recently nixed the deal that had Ron Howard directing and Akiva Goldsman writing, and the project remains in limbo. Also, David Yates and Steve Kloves are circling and adaptation of King’s The Stand, and Warner Bros is developing It, about a terrifying clown, which was turned into a 1990 TV movie. On the TV side, A&E just greenlighted a four-part miniseries based on Bag of Bones starring Pierce Brosnan and Kelly Rowland.

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Ron Howard Won’t Complete Dan Brown Trilogy; Sony Now Looking For New Director

EXCLUSIVE: Ron Howard directed and produced both of Sony Pictures’ films based on Dan Brown’s bestselling novels, The Da Vinci Code (in 2006) and Angels & Demons (2009). Now I’ve learned that the Imagine Entertainment principal will not be directing the next movie based on Brown’s 2009 book The Lost Symbol which is a follow-up to the events described in Da Vinci Code. “He wanted to produce this one, not direct,” a Sony insider tells me. So Sony Pictures has started looking for a new helmer. Like the two other books made into films, this third one stars Tom Hanks as Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon. “Ron told Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton that he was not going to be directing Dan Brown’s novels anymore,” an insider tells me. “He just didn’t want to do that thing over and over, the same character and the same stories.” But if you look at Howard’s box office track record as a director since his Oscar-winner A Beautiful Mind (2001), the Dan Brown films were his most successful with such wide release movies as Missing, Cinderella Man, and The Dilemma all underperforming. He could use a surefire hit. After all, The Lost Symbol sold 1 million hardcovers and e-books in the U.S., the UK, and Canada on its first day, making it the fastest-selling adult novel in history.

Interestingly, Sony Pictures is making a Somali pirate drama starring Tom Hanks as … Read More »

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Universal Nixes Stephen King’s ‘Dark Tower’ – No Ambitious Film Trilogy Or TV Series

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: The moment has come for Universal Pictures to fish or cut bait on The Dark Tower, the ultra-ambitious adaptation of the Stephen King 7-novel series that was going to encompass a trilogy of feature films and two limited run TV series. The studio has said, No Thanks. Universal has passed on going forward with the project, dealing a huge blow in the plan for Ron Howard to direct Akiva Goldsman’s script, with Brian Grazer, Goldsman and the author producing and Javier Bardem starring as gunslinger Roland Deschain. Now, the filmmakers will have to find a new backer of what might well be the most ambitious movie project since Bob Shaye allowed Peter Jackson to shoot three installments of The Lord of the Rings back to back.

This stunning development comes after Universal in May pushed plans to start production this summer on the first film. The studio claimed to be on track for a February, postponing to reduce the budget. This temporarily dispelled rumors that Universal was putting the project in turnaround, rumors that cropped up when the studio put workers on hiatus. But it was only a temporary respite. I’m told that this time, the studio reviewed Goldsman’s script for the first film and the first leg of the TV series, and would only commit to the single film. That wasn’t good enough for the filmmakers, who had already hired comic book and Heroes … Read More »

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‘The Dark Tower’ Staff Put On Hiatus As Filmmakers, Studio Address Budget Problems

Mike Fleming

Universal Pictures has put pre-production staff on hiatus as they discuss ways to bring down the budget of the ambitious adaptation of the Stephen King novel series The Dark Tower. Talks are ongoing between studio brass, director Ron Howard and his Imagine Entertainment, and writer/producer Akiva Goldsman about how they will proceed. The plan was to make three movies that would star Javier Bardem, with TV miniseries in between each film. The plan was as ambitious as New Line’s gamble on The Lord of the Rings years ago.

One thing for sure, even though staffers have been told there’s a chance they will return, the plan to start production in September is scratched. If Universal decides the proposition is too rich for its blood — it recently halted At the Mountains of Madness because it was an R-rated $150 million film — then the next move would be to bring it to Warner Bros, where Goldsman’s Weed Road has its deal. Word that Universal would put the project in turnaround began circulating last night, but both the studio and Imagine denied it. They’re still denying it. We’ve held our tongue until now, when staffers have been told to stop working.

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Mark Verheiden To Co-Write, EP NBC’s ‘Dark Tower’ Series With Akiva Goldsman

Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: TV, film and comic book writer Mark Verheiden has been tapped to co-write with Akiva Goldsman the NBC TV series The Dark Tower. The project is part of a massive joint deal Universal Pictures and NBC Universal TV Entertainment signed back in September to turn Stephen King’s opus of best-selling novels — which have sold more than 30 million copies — into into a feature film trilogy and a TV series, both of them creatively steered by the Oscar-winning team behind A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code.

Verheiden will executive produce the The Dark Tower series along with Goldsman and his Weed Road Pictures for Universal Media Studios. As previously announced, Ron Howard will direct the series, which is envisioned as a bridge between the first and second movie in the trilogy. This marks Verheiden’s return to NBC and UMS following his turn as a supervising producer on Heroes. He also was a writer/co-exec producer on the NBCU series Battlestar Galactica, which ran on Syfy. He most recently served as a co-executive producer of TNT’s upcoming sci-fi series Falling Skies, from DreamWorks TV. Verheiden, repped by CAA, Untitled and attorney Peter Nelson, is also in business with DreamWorks on the feature side, developing Quatermain for the studio, as well as Ark for Sony Pictures for producers Neal Moritz and Mike Richardson. He has written nearly 125 comic … Read More »

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Javier Bardem Closing ‘Dark Tower’ Deal

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Javier Bardem is close to sealing his deal with Universal Pictures to play gunslinger Roland Deschain in The Dark Tower, the mammoth adaptation of the Stephen King 7-novel series that’ll span three movies and a limited run TV series in between each film. Director Ron Howard begins production on the first film in September, and he’ll also direct the first TV segment. Akiva Goldsman has scripted the film and the initial TV component. Imagine Entertainment chief Brian Grazer is producing the films with Goldsman and King. Goldsman will produce the TV part through his Weed Road banner.

Bardem, who won the Oscar for his ferocious portrayal of a hit man in  No Country For Old Men and who was more recently nominated for Biutiful, is a strong match to play the last living member of a knightly order of gunslingers. Deadline revealed in late January that Bardem had been offered the role of Deschain, who becomes humanity’s last hope to save civilization as he hits the road to find the Dark Tower. Along the way, he encounters characters, good and bad, in a world that has an old West feel.

Bardem’s WME reps are putting the finishing touches on the deal, and they are close enough that Howard has begun meeting with other actors to cast the roles around Bardem. It’s a complex deal, almost unprecedented, because it calls for Bardem to star in the feature film and the TV component. His deal will also include options for two sequels (the TV program that runs between the second and third films will be a prequel). I’m told it will add up to a career-best payday for Bardem. Howard and Goldsman have told me they see the trilogy as their answer to the Peter Jackson-directed adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. While Middle Earth had a mystical medieval feel, The Dark Tower vibe is one that Goldsman described as “an alternate Americana, one part post-apocalyptic, one part Sergio Leone.” Read More »

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Ron Howard On ‘The Dark Tower’

Mike Fleming

While I had Ron Howard on the phone yesterday to discuss the Imagine/Reliance Writers Lab that Karen Kehela Sherwood will supervise, I wasn’t going to let him get away without providing some update on The Dark Tower, the adaptation of Stephen King’s novel series which Akiva Goldsman is writing and which Brian Grazer will produce with Goldsman and King. They plan to turn King’s masterwork into a film trilogy with a network TV series programmed between films. Howard will direct the first film and the limited run series that will create a bridge to the second feature. “It is going well, and it has been incredibly stimulating to work on,” Howard said. “It’s dense, a great author’s life work is not to be taken lightly. It has been utterly fascinating to explore it, and we are having great creative conversations. I’ve begun tossing and turning at 3 in the morning over it, so that’s a good sign.” Considering the level of success Howard and Grazer have experienced together, it is encouraging that they still want to try new models and occasionally shake up the status quo, both with the writer’s lab and the unprecedented film/TV plan for The Dark Tower. Universal recently set a May 17, 2013 release date for the first feature.

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Universal Sets Film Slate Release Dates

Mike Fleming

Universal has locked in release dates for some of its most ambitious films hatched by the team of Adam Fogelson and Donna Langley. Add these to previously set releases that include The Fast and The Furious sequel Fast Five (June 10, 2011), Cowboys and Aliens (July 29, 2011), Tower Heist (November 4, 2011), Battleship (May 18, 2012) and Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (March 12, 2012). Here are the newly dated releases:

Larry Crowne, the Playtone production directed by and starring Tom Hanks and starring Hanks and Julia Roberts, will be released on Friday, July 1, 2011. Safe House, a Stuber production starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds and directed by Daniel Espinosa, will be released on Friday, February 10, 2012. Contraband, a Working Title production starring Mark Wahlberg and Kate Beckinsale and directed by Baltasar Kormakur, will be released on Friday, March 16, 2012. Untitled Judd Apatow, written, directed and produced by Judd Apatow, will be released on Friday, June 1, 2012. The Bourne Legacy, a Kennedy/Marshall and Captivate Entertainment production written and directed by Tony Gilroy, will be released on Friday, August 3, 2012. Ouija, a Hasbro Entertainment and Platinum Dunes production, will be released on Friday, November 9, 2012. 47 Ronin, a Stuber production starring Keanu Reeves and directed by Carl Rinsch, will be released on Wednesday, November 21, 2012. … Read More »

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Networks Go For Dramas Based On Source Material; 3 More Adaptations Enter The Fray

Nellie Andreeva

With drama sale season in full force, book and format adaptations have emerged as a red-hot commodity. ABC is working on a U.S. version of hit British series Spooks with writer Michael Seitzman, NBC is developing an adaptation of Stephen King’s novel The Dark Tower with Imagine and writer Akiva Goldsman, Fox handed a series commitment to an Alex Kurtzman/Roberto Orci/DreamWorks TV-produced adaptation of King’s son Joe Hill’s graphic novel Locke & Key, CBS has picked up Treadstone, a spy drama based on Robert Ludlum’s novels from CSI creator Anthony Zuiker and feature writer John Glenn, and Warner Bros. is looking to turn DC comic The Sandman into series.

Three new projects are about to join them. Sony TV is developing a single-camera half-hour comedy based on the 2009 indie Breaking Upwards with the film’s co-writers/stars Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister-Jones and producer Aaron Kaplan. It centers on a young couple exploring alternatives to monogamy as they decide to spend 4 days a week together and the other 3 as single people. Kaplan is executive producing through his Kapital Entertainment. Wein, who also directed the movie, and Lister-Jones are expected to co-exec produce. The duo, repped by Gersh, recently sold comedy pitch Motherf***er to Fox Searchlight.

Glenn, who is writing Treadstone, is behind another adaptation that has received … Read More »

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Universal Lands Stephen King’s ‘The Dark Tower’ And Plans Unprecedented Feature/Network TV Adaptation

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures and NBC Universal Television Entertainment have closed a deal to turn Stephen King’s mammoth novel series The Dark Tower into a feature film trilogy and a network TV series, both of which will be creatively steered by the Oscar-winning team behind A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code.

Ron Howard has committed to direct the initial feature film, as well as the first season of the TV series that will follow in close proximity. Akiva Goldsman will write the film, and the first season of the TV series. Howard’s Imagine Entertainment partner Brian Grazer will produce, with Goldsman and the author.

When Deadline revealed in April that Howard, Goldman and Grazer planned to team with King, Universal was battling Warner Bros—home of Goldsman’s Weed Road–for the property. The multi-platform deal was so comprehensive, it took months to close. It will be announced later today by Universal Pictures chairman Adam Fogelson, co-chairman Donna Langley, NBC Universal Television Entertainment chairman Jeff Gaspin, and NBC & Universal Media Studios Primetime Entertainment president Angela Bromstad, all of whom pulled it together.

I spoke with Goldsman and Howard, who have polled enough of their peers to be convinced what they are doing here has never been attempted: using a major studio’s film and TV platforms simultaneously to tell a story. It is reminiscent of when Peter Jackson directed three installments of The Lord of Read More »

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A Post Comic-Con Wish List of 15 Films The Geek Crowd Really Wants To See

Mike Fleming

Studios brought stars and film clips to Comic-Con, seeking geek love for all of its superhero and fantasy projects. While they’re paying attention, how about some of the more ambitious films these die-hards have waited years to see? After numerous conversations with agents, writers and studio execs who orbit the geek periphery, I’ve culled the 15 that came up most often. Some of these will happen soon, others might never emerge from development hell, a few might be just too tough to crack in a two-hour time frame. Given the glut of Comic-Con superhero projects, there’s a refreshing lack of capes. Here they are, in no particular order.

  • Warcraft.  Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros have been working on the project since last summer with Sam Raimi. When Spider-Man imploded, it looked like his next movie. Until Disney tempted him with a big paycheck as it tries for another Alice in Wonderland bonanza with its Great and Powerful Oz prequel. Raimi’s next slot is  now a race between the two projects to get scripts right and lock in stars (Disney wants Robert Downey Jr., but he doesn’t like the scripts he’s seen so far).  The Blizzard Entertainment Warcraft vidgame revolves around an epic conflict between the Horde and the Alliance. The game’s global following makes it the kind of branded property that compels studios to take big-budget risks. There is also
  • Read More »

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