“Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” kicked off San Diego Comic-Con on Thursday as the first panel held at the massive Hall H, and it came with a fantastical trailer and slew of A-list stars.
Chris Pine — donning chin-length blonde hair — Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, Sophia Lillis and Hugh Grant took the stage to rapturous applause. In addition to the trailer, the audience was treated to two clips from the unfinished film, shot in Northern Ireland during the U.K.’s COVID lockdown. Pine described the movie as having “a Spielbergian energy to it,” while Grant said it has a “Monty Python vibe.”
The trailer features Pine (as a bard), Rodriguez (as a barbarian), Justice Smith (as a sorcerer) and Lillis (as a druid) as a band of thieves attempting to rectify a mistake that unleashed a great evil upon their land. They encounter all manner of fantastical creatures — and Page, as a rakish paladin who (seemingly) joins their quest.
Unlike the solemn and intense trailers for recent fantasy series “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” and “House of the Dragon,” however, the trailer for “Dungeons & Dragons” has a much more freewheeling and lighthearted tone, typified by the final shot of Pine gleefully strumming his lute.
One of the lengthy clips (shown only at Hall H) involves the characters navigating through a maze as a few other teams try to make their way through. Writer-director John Francis Daley said the movie features 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 displacer beast — basically a panther that can project its own image — and the gelatinous cube — basically a giant cube that is gelatinous (and deadly). The directors teased that the film features at least one cameo from a well-known “D&D” player as well as multiple Easter eggs from the game.
“I wasn’t a big ‘D&D’-er, but my nephew, who’s 13, is a huge player,” Pine said, who plays Edgin in the film. He said the movie “feels open and light and buoyant.”
“It was an amazing thing to see all my family light up in that way,” he added about his whole family playing with his nephew. “It slowly snowballed and three hours in, you forgot that you didn’t want to.”
“[It’s] one game that should be played in every single high school in the nation,” Pine said. “You can get the bully and the jock — of course, I only speak in John Hughes terms — and I guarantee you 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 these memories as a kid in a basement goofing off with my friends,” she said. “I think role-playing games are awesome and more people should do them.”
Rodriguez gained 10 pounds of muscle to play barbarian Holda.
Page, who portrays a paladin, Xenk, said he was always “D&D adjacent,” gravitating toward “Chrono Trigger” and “Diablo.”
“I basically grew up as Eddie Munson,” Page said, referencing the character from Season 4 of “Stranger Things,” a social outcast and “D&D” enthusiast. “I know a little something about escapist fantasy that gives you no limits.”
Page also endured intense training for the film, including stance and sword training.
“My thighs were killing me and I had the best ass in my life,” he said.
Lillis was such a hardcore fan of the game as a teen 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 indicate that Grant has always been a big “D&D” fan, Rodriguez quipped, “I think you mixed it up with S&M.”
“She’s not wrong,” Hugh responded, to rolling laughter from his castmates and the audience. “I’ve been an enthusiastic dungeon master for years. That’s a British pastime. National sport, almost. I believe that’s why the Jonathans thought of me for this.” Grant will play a rogue 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 podcast “Banter With Sapnap and Karl Jacobs,” introduced a behind-the-scenes clip that played with multiple glitches before the cast came out.
“Seeing your faces reminds us why we do this. Thank you for being here,” writer-director Jonathan Goldstein said at the beginning of the event.
“Both of us have a long history with ‘Dungeons & Dragons,’” Goldstein said, who used to play the first edition with his brother, who “always killed” him.
Daley learned about “D&D” because his character was a fan of the game on the cult series “Freaks and Geeks.” “It is not just a game, it is the feeling you get when you play the game,” he said.
Eddie Ibrahim, director of programming at Comic-Con International, opened the panel.
“It has been three years since we’ve been in this room together!” Ibrahim said before hyping the Paramount Pictures presentation.
The movie is based on the popular tabletop role-playing game that allows players to create their own wizards, fighters, monks and other heroes to take on all kinds of fantastical beasts, trolls, necromancers and countless more. The game has soared in popularity recently thanks to shows like Netflix’s “Stranger Things” and the web series “Critical Role,” which was turned into an Amazon Prime Video animated show called “The Legend of Vox Machina.”
In 2020, Variety dove deep inside a celebrity “Dungeons & Dragons” campaign hosted by Joe Manganiello that included Vince Vaughn, Tom Morello, “Game of Thrones” co-creator D.B. Weiss and more.
Goldstein and Daley, who helmed the 2018 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 from Gilio’s story with Chris McKay. The project is being produced by Jeremy Latcham (who was also in attendance), Brian Goldner and Nick Meyer, with executive producers Denis L. Stewart, Goldstein, Daley, Pine, Zev Foreman and Greg Mooradian.
Entertainment One and Sweetpea Entertainment produce “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves,” which hits theaters on March 3, 2023.
Watch the action-packed trailer below.