HBO Max backs ‘Minecraft’ movie with ‘Aquaman’ star Jason Momoa

It appears HBO Max is creeping up behind Netflix and Paramount+ with new gaming IP under its belt. The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that Jason Momoa is in final negotiations to star in the Warner Bros. live-action “Minecraft” movie.

The popular video game Minecraft, loved by 11-year-olds and YouTube gamers, debuted in 2011 and allows players to create worlds and structures with brown, green and other colorful pixelated blocks. The game exploded in popularity, as stores filled their aisles with merchandise like those foam swords and mystery toy boxes. Then, in 2014, a few years after its launch, Microsoft acquired (Minecraft developer) Mojang for $2.5 billion.

The Minecraft franchise is still very popular, having been brought to multiple video game systems, given spinoffs and winning many awards since its launch. In December, it surpassed one trillion views (yes, I said trillion) on YouTube and in 2021, there were over 140 million monthly users. So it’s not at all surprising that Warner Bros. would want their hands on such a popular IP universe.

The studio has been developing a project based on the game since 2014, with Shawn Levy first set to direct. Then “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” star Rob McElhenney was attached to direct, but he also ditched the project back in 2018.

Jared Hess (“Napoleon Dynamite,” “Nacho Libre”) is now set to direct from a script that was written by Chris Bowman and Hubbell Palmer. The film will be produced by Mary Parent and Roy Lee, along with Jill Messick receiving a posthumous producing credit for developing the film before her passing in 2018. Executive producers include Cale Boyter, Jon Berg and Jon Spaihts. Mojang Studios’ Lydia Winters and Vu Bui will also produce.

It’s not exactly clear who Momoa will play in the film, or even if Minecraft Steve will make an appearance.

TechCrunch reached out for comment to confirm the report and its details.

Mojang Studios released the storyline back in 2019, which said:

The malevolent Ender Dragon sets out on a path of destruction, prompting a young girl and her group of unlikely adventurers to set out to save the Overworld.

A release date has not been set; however, Warner Bros.’ lease on the rights to “Minecraft” will expire next year. That being said, production will have to begin soon, according to The Ankler.

Gaming movies and shows have had a hot streak lately, with Paramount+’s “Halo” and “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” recently released, as well as Sony’s “Uncharted,” and 20th Century’s “Free Guy,” among many others. The “Halo” series is based on the blockbuster sci-fi game franchise of the same name, the new entry of which, “Halo: Infinite,” was released in December.

In addition, another upcoming HBO title is based on the video game “Last of Us.”

Netflix has been firing up the gaming titles with a new “Exploding Kittens” series, and of course, this pairs with its Netflix Games division. The company also has the “League of Legends” animated series “Arcane” on its platform as well as “The Witcher,” “The Cuphead Show!” and new interactive “Trivia Quest,” based on the mobile game “Trivia Crack.”

Other game-based shows coming to Netflix soon include “Resident Evil,” “Cyberpunk: Edgerunners” and “Assassin’s Creed.” In addition, the streamer has ordered projects such as  “Sonic Prime” starring Sonic the Hedgehog and a “Tomb Raider” series.

“Westworld” creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy are developing a “Fallout” series for Amazon, based on the post-apocalyptic game series. It has also been reported that Prime Video was in talks for a live-action “God of War” TV series, based on the action-adventure PlayStation game franchise.

We will have to see if upcoming video game-based titles like the Chris Pratt-led “Mario” movie and “Minecraft” will keep up with the trend that Hollywood is so determined to push forward.