“Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” kicked off San Diego Comic-Con on Thursday as the first panel held in the massive Hall H, and it came with a fantastic trailer and a slew of A-list stars. .
Chris Pine – sporting chin-length blonde hair – Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, Sophia Lillis and Hugh Grant took the stage to rapturous applause. Along with the trailer, audiences were treated to two clips from the unfinished film, shot in Northern Ireland during Britain’s COVID lockdown. Pine described the film as having “Spielbergian energy”, while Grant said it had a “Monty Python vibe”.
The trailer features Pine (as a bard), Rodriguez (as a barbarian), Justice Smith (as a wizard), and Lillis (as a druid) as a band of thieves attempting to right a mistake that has unleashed a great evil on their land. They encounter all manner of fantastical creatures – and Page, as a bawdy paladin who (apparently) joins their quest.
Unlike the solemn and intense trailers of recent fantasy series “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” and “The House of the Dragon”, however, the trailer for “Dungeons & Dragons” has a much more free and light-hearted, characterized by the final stroke of Pine happily strumming his lute.
One of the long clips (shown only in Concourse H) involves the characters navigating a maze as a few other teams try to navigate their way through. Writer-director John Francis Daley said the film featured dozens of monsters and creatures, as well as dozens of spells. The filmmakers worked with game publisher Wizards of the Coast to ensure the lore was on point.
The footage also showed a Beast of Displacement – essentially a panther that can project its own image – and the Gelatinous Cube – essentially a giant gelatinous (and deadly) cube. The makers announced that the film features at least one cameo from a well-known “D&D” player as well as several Easter eggs from the game.
“I wasn’t a big ‘D&D’-er, but my nephew, who’s 13, is a huge gamer,” said Pine, who plays Edgin in the film. He said the film “feels open, light and dynamic”.
“It was an amazing thing to see my whole family light up like this,” he added of his whole family playing with his nephew. “It slowly snowballed and three hours later you forgot you didn’t want to.”
“[It’s] a game that should be played in every high school in the country,” Pine said. “You can have the bully and the jock – of course, I’m only speaking in terms of John Hughes – and I guarantee no one will remember what class they came from.”
“I just wanted to spread the gospel of ‘D&D’,” he concluded.
Rodriguez, meanwhile, insisted: “You don’t grow up in Jersey without playing ‘D&D’.”
“It just brought back all those memories of being a kid in a basement goofing around with my friends,” she said. “I think role-playing games are great and more people should do them.”
Rodriguez gained 10 pounds of muscle to play the barbaric Holda.
Page, who plays a paladin, Xenk, said he was always “D&D adjacent,” gravitating toward “Chrono Trigger” and “Diablo.”
“I grew up as Eddie Munson,” Page said, referring to the “Stranger Things” Season 4 character, a social outcast and “D&D” enthusiast. “I know a little something about escapist fantasy that gives you no limits.”
Page also underwent intense training for the film, including stance and sword training.
“My thighs were killing me and I had the best ass of my life,” he said.
Lillis was a diehard fan of the game as a teenager that she traveled 20 minutes back to her old high school, after moving, to play in the school’s “D&D” club.
When moderator Karl Jacobs said his notes indicated Grant had always been a huge “D&D” fan, Rodriguez quipped, “I think you mixed it up with S&M.”
“She’s not wrong,” Hugh replied, to roars of laughter from his castmates and the audience. “I’ve been an enthusiastic dungeon master for years. It’s a British pastime. National sport, almost. I think that’s why the Jonathans thought of me for this. Grant will play a thief named Forge Fletcher.
Chloe Coleman, Jason Wong and Daisy Head round out the star-studded cast.
Jacobs, a Twitch streamer and co-host of the “Banter With Sapnap and Karl Jacobs” podcast, showed off a behind-the-scenes clip that played with several issues ahead of the cast’s release.
“Seeing your faces reminds us why we are doing this. Thanks for being there,” writer-director Jonathan Goldstein said at the start of the event.
“We both have a long history with ‘Dungeons & Dragons’,” said Goldstein, who used to play the first edition with his brother, who “always killed it.”
Daley discovered “D&D” because his character was a fan of the game from the cult “Freaks and Geeks” series. “It’s not just a game, it’s the feeling you get when you play the game,” he said.
Eddie Ibrahim, Director of Programming for Comic-Con International, opened the panel.
“It was three years since we’ve been in this room together! Ibrahim said before promoting the Paramount Pictures presentation.
The film is based on the popular tabletop role-playing game that lets players create their own wizards, fighters, monks, and other heroes to take on all manner of fantastical beasts, trolls, necromancers, and countless others. The game has recently gained popularity thanks to shows like Netflix’s “Stranger Things” and the web series “Critical Role,” which was turned into an animated Amazon Prime Video show called “The Legend of Vox Machina.”
In 2020, Variety dove deep into a celebrity “Dungeons & Dragons” campaign hosted by Joe Manganiello that included Vince Vaughn, Tom Morello, “Game of Thrones” co-creator DB Weiss and more.
Goldstein and Daley, who helmed 2018’s hit comedy “Game Night” and wrote “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2,” “Horrible Bosses” and “Vacation Friends,” directed the film. The screenplay is written by Goldstein, Daley and Michael Gilio based on Gilio’s story with Chris McKay. The project is produced by Jeremy Latcham (who was also present), Brian Goldner and Nick Meyer, with executive producers Denis L. Stewart, Goldstein, Daley, Pine, Zev Foreman and Greg Mooradian.
Entertainment One and Sweetpea Entertainment are producing “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves,” which will be released in theaters on March 3, 2023.
Watch the action-packed trailer below.