‘Dungeons & Dragons’ Documentary In Works
By: Matt Grobar
Hasbro’s entertainment studio Entertainment One is producing a new documentary on the classic tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, billed as the definitive take. Dungeons & Dragons writer and official ambassador Joe Manganiello has come aboard to direct with Kyle Newman (1UP), with the film to be released in 2024, as the game celebrates its 50th anniversary.
Created by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, Dungeons & Dragons was first published by Tactical Studies Rules, Inc. in 1974, and has been distributed by Hasbro subsidiary Wizards of the Coast since 1997.
The game, overseen by a player known as The Dungeon Master, sees others form an adventuring party that will embark on quests through fantasy worlds, in order to take their experience to the next level. More than 50 million fans have interacted with or played D&D — one of Hasbro’s key brands — since it was first published 48 years ago, including via videogames and livestream entertainment on Twitch and YouTube.
eOne’s doc will draw from over 400 hours of archived, never-before-seen footage going back to the game’s creation in the early 1970s, to which the Manganiellos, Newman, and Adam F. Goldberg have spent recent years acquiring exclusive rights. The film, also featuring exclusive interviews with celebrity fans of the game, will benefit from Wizards of the Coast’s offering to the filmmakers of inside access to highly confidential developments concerning the game and brand, this being the first time this level of access has been authorized.
News of the doc comes as eOne and Paramount gear up for the release of their narrative feature Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. The film starring Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, Chloe Coleman, Daisy Head, Hugh Grant and Jason Wong, will bow in theaters on March 3, 2023. The studio is also now actively collaborating on a number of scripted film and TV projects based on other notable Hasbro IP, as part of Hasbro’s Blueprint in action, delivering multichannel entertainment to fans on some of the world’s most beloved brands.
Joe Manganiello will produce the D&D doc alongside his brother Nick Manganiello, Anthony Savini and Cecily Tyler.
Tara Long and Geno McDermott are executive producing for eOne alongside leading Dungeons & Dragons scholar Jon Peterson, Goldberg and Newman.
“I have had the pleasure of working in the past with Joe on True Blood among other projects and cannot think of a better more passionate person to dive headfirst into the world of Dungeons & Dragons from both a player and fan perspective. The addition of Kyle Newman, Nick Manganiello, and Jon Peterson also bring unique and multiple dimensions to the history we plan to document,” said eOne’s Head of Global Television, Michael Lombardo. “As we approach 50 years of this incredible gaming universe, the time is right for an officially authorized telling of the game’s origins and current state of play to its passionate fan based from all walks of life and its global cultural impact.”
“Dungeons & Dragons has sparked the imagination of fans all over the world for nearly 50 years and we continue to bring exciting and engaging experiences to new generations,” remarked Hasbro’s President of Wizards of the Coast and Digital Gaming, Cynthia Williams. “As we approach this milestone celebration, I am excited to have a creative team with authentic passion for the brand producing what we hope will become a defining look at the World’s Greatest Roleplaying Game’s storied history.”
“I couldn’t be more proud and excited to get back behind the camera for another documentary, this time with the D&D dream team of Jon, Kyle, and my brother and producing partner Nick,” added Joe Manganiello. “I lived through the rise and fall and rise again of this legacy brand that has not only meant so much to me but has served as the fountainhead of creativity for an entire generation of writers, artists, and creative minds, influencing so much of our culture. None of this would have been possible without Nathan Stewart at Wizards of the Coast and my eternally supportive boss from the HBO/True Blood days, Michael Lombardo and the fantastic team at eOne.”
Manganiello’s entertainment career spanning over two decades has included roles in the Spider-Man and Magic Mike franchises, as well as such television series as True Blood, How I Met Your Mother and Love, Death & Robots. He’s an avid Dungeons & Dragons fan and player well known for hosting campaigns with a large rotation of celebrity guests, including some of the biggest names in Hollywood’s fantasy and superhero space. Joe partnered with his brother Nick Manganiello in 2012 to launch 3:59 Inc., which has since produced titles including Bottom of the 9th, starring Joe Manganiello and Sofia Vergara, and the documentary LA Bare, marking his directorial debut.
Newman is an award-winning filmmaker and New York Times bestselling author whose directorial credits include Fanboys, the Star Wars-centered comedy starring Seth Rogen and Kristen Bell; A24’s action-comedy Barely Lethal, starring Hailee Steinfeld and Samuel L. Jackson; and this summer’s esports comedy 1UP for Lionsgate/Prime Video. Newman is otherwise best known for his documentary Raiders: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made, as well as the book Dungeons & Dragons: Art & Arcana, a Hugo Award finalist which he wrote alongside Peterson.
Manganiello is represented by CAA and Myman Greenspan Fox; Newman by Wonder Street and Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz.