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What to expect from a Warrior Cats movieAh yes a movie, perhaps the most talked about topic in the fandom of Warrior Cats. whether you have always wanted one, or thought there never should be one. It is a common question, one I am sure Vicky and the other Erins have heard people ask about often enough.
But now we finally have some sort of confirmation, a movie is.. possible. As I write this page (24/10/16) the Erin's have just confirmed the rights for the movie have been sold to Alibaba Pictures, who have expressed interest in making a movie of Warrior Cats in some shape or form.
So this page is to summarize what I think you should expect from a Warrior movie.
First here is a video by TennelleFlowers on Youtube, she pratically covers all the issues with a Warrior movie. But I have also shared my own views below aswell.
What is actually confirmed?Now first of all, let's make it clear what is actually confirmed. That is that the rights have been purchased. This is the first possible stage of working towards making a movie, that is buying the actual permission to make a movie based on a series.
In fact, although I cannot remember exactly what was said but I do recall Vicky or Kate saying that the rights have been bought before. In fact this is common, the buying of rights doe's by no means mean a movie is confirmed. It just means they can make a movie, it is common for rights to be bought but never used, then the rights run out and another company may buy them, who again may or may not pursue the movie to a further stage.
The fact that the Erin's have announced this suggests at the least this studio, Alibaba Pictures are looking to make a movie of the series. But that is literally it so far. No details are confirmed, it is unlikely a director or any actors are in line for it yet, any confirmed story-line, let alone a script. We don't even know if it will be the first book, first series or something else entirely. In fact we don't know what sort of movie it would be, most likely we can assume it will be CGI animated but we just don't know yet.
The point is all we know a movie is in the very early planning stages and is far from confirmed as actually being produced.
Will a movie work and why hasn't one been done already?"As I said the rights (at least I think) have been bought before, but it seems a movie never even made it to the planning stage. Why is this? Well various reasons I'm sure, but I think the main issue with a movie in general can be described in one word:
Warrior cats is in a very difficult position. The books are generally aimed at the 9+ age rating, so naturally this would mean a movie will need to be a PG at highest to allow this age range to watch it.
However, as I am sure you are quite aware Warriors is rather violent and dark, and while the books can be aimed at a 9+ audience, a movie of the same content would not get away with it quite so easily. In fact if a true to the book story was made into a movie, with all the violence, blood and dark themes included we are looking at least a 12a/pg-13 rating.
So there lies the simplest and perhaps biggest issue for a Warriors movies. Books and Movies have different age ratings. Visual media is simply more strict in what you are allowed to show. So this leaves the studio making the movie two options:
Make a true to book story, and end up with at least a 12a/pg-13 rating.
Cut down the violence and more dark themes until it fits under the PG rating.
Sadly the latter is far more likely, as the studio will want to market the movie to the biggest audience possible, so would much rather cut the film down to fit a family rating rather than cut their potential audience.
So what exactly would be cut? Well first off the blood, it is unlikely any blood will get into a PG rating, but this will probably not be enough to lower the rating, the general fighting and violence will need to be cut in certain ways too. Perhaps even entire segments will be cut as they are seen as too violent.
But this is only the tip of the iceberg of problems for a Warriors movie.
Violence aside, these are not the only cuts a Warrior movie would likely have to face.
Warrior Cats has two main aspects which would make a movie hard, aside from it's violence, those would be the complicated story arcs and the huge cast of characters.
Most Warrior book have various stories arcs in the one book, while they have one main narrative for the most part, they usually have several side stories going about various character. As for why this is an issue, well this is the second big issue after rating, this is:
Ah yes run time probably the biggest issue with book to movie adaptations. Simply a book can cover so much within it's pages, but a movie is limited to anywhere from 90 minutes to in a rare case 3 hours.
As this will likely be a family animated picture, we are likely looking at 90 mins to 2 hours run time. So what can fit in 2 hours? Well not quite as much as you might think.
Again, we don't yet know what will be adapted, if they simply choose the first book, maybe it can work however even then the first book has a surprising amount of content, characters and locations for a 2 hour or less movie to cover, so even that one book would be a stretch to fit in. This is of course IF they do only one book.
Choosing to do only one book would be great if the studio plans to finish the first series at the least, as the books are not particularly good as stand alone titles, so now we are talking about 6 movies at least which is ambitious. What is perhaps more likely is they will want to combine at least 2 or 3 of the books into one movie, which will inevitably mean more cuts.
Whether one book or more, the movie will have to cut, cut and cut some more. Violence yes, no blood, watered down battles if not cut all together. But then we have the story, a story arc that isn't essential to the main plot? Ah probably cut for run time. A character that isn't important to the main plot? and lets face is, they're a lot of them, but sorry probably cut, or at best turned into a lineless background cats.
There simply isn't enough time to fit every story arc and character from the books into the movie. The movie will stick to the bare bones and only then if there is time will look at extra non essential story arcs the books are known for.
Movies to compare tooOk well you get the picture, so now let's look at some examples of other movies to try and see what to expect.
Legend of the Guardians
The go to comparison, another animal based book series made into a movie.
Now this movie was actually rather good. It took the first 3 books and squeezed them into a 96 minute run time. So if this worked, surely Warriors can too right? Well let's not get ahead of ourselves here.
First off while the Guardians books certainly have violence, it's not really to the extreme of Warriors and could fit into the PG much easier than Warriors could. Warrior books also seem to have more plot elements and again far more characters, fitting the first three books into a movie for Warriors seems far less likely to work.
Then we have the studio, Guardians was produced by Warner Brothers which is a huge company which have produced countless movies. Whereas Warriors will have Alibaba Pictures, who seem to be a fairly small studio with no significant movie titles to it's name, in fact Warriors could be it's first major film.
In fact we can even compare to another movie that came out the very same weekend as Guardians, Alpha and Omega:
Alpha and Omega was made by a up and coming animation company called Crest Animation Productions. the movie was not bad, the animation was good for a new company, the story was nothing special but overall a fun family picture. So a small studio can make a nice animated movie sure. However, most likely due to the poor decision to release the movie on the same weekend as a far bigger animated movie with a already establish fan base, the movie didn't do too well, well at least not well enough to keep the studio making sequels, at least not in the cinema. The studio has since gone to make 5+ straight to dvd sequels to this movie, all of which have been about 45 minutes in length, with very poor animated, characters and even worse stories. Which is a shame, as the first movie showed promise.
This just shows how volatile the animation movie market is. A small studio will want to play it safe, make a safe family movie they can profit on. This example also shows potential sequels will purely depend on the first movies performance, and if it does not perform, well maybe we will get some terrible dvd sequels.
Probably the most successful book based movie series. Harry Potter has become insanely popular, both it's movies and books. But not even it is devoid of issues. While the movies are good, they are far from true adaptations of the books. They experienced many edits and cuts, from scenes that were removed, to entire characters (I still love you Peeves).
This is keeping in mind Harry Potter has a more straight forward narrative and not nearly the size of cast as Warriors does. So Warriors will get hit by the chopping board far more than Harry Potter did. And again while Harry Potter has fighting and death, it is not remotely close to the violent and dark theme of Warriors.
You may not have heard of this one but this is a rather good example. Felidae is a animated movie made in Germany, based on a book of the same name.
It is a very dark film, which is effectively a murder mystery for cats. It has a lot of violence/murder, very dark scenes and even the one thing not even the Warrior Cat books never dared to do, it shows a mating scene. While this is more extreme example than Warrior Cats, it is still a valid example of a movie than chose not to tone down the story.
Felidae doe's not tone down the book, as mentioned it even went as far to animate the mating scene that was in the book, as such it is a very controversial movie, with a rating of 15 which would be at least pg-13 in the US.
Originally released on DVD (I am unsure if it ever had a cinematic release) in Germany in 1994, and much later a English dubbed version was released in the UK in 2013. Not surprisingly it never got a US release. The dvds are actually very rare to find, and very expensive. I should know I have looked around for a copy!
The movie did have interest though at least in Germany, enough in fact to inspire the author to write several more sequels to the book, none of which were animated.
The point for this example is, this movie went all the way to adapt the book, although some minor things were changed to make it work better as a movie, it was ultimately a good adaptation, but naturally had a very limited audience and a much criticism, something a small studio trying to make it;'s name would avoid at all costs. Warriors being a cute movie about cats at first glance only to find it is dark and violent is going to find criticism from parents regardless, so cutting the worst of it seems much more likely than going down the route of Felidae.
Other ExamplesThere are other examples including Watership Down and Plague Dogs, both dark and violent animated movies, which actually have U and PG ratings. However these movies are rather old and it is unlikely any movie would get away with such themes in a children's movie today, things have become far more strict.
You could even use The Lion King for an example, it has death but overall it is a fun family picture with songs and all. Somehow I don't want to see Firestar start singing about becoming a Warrior.
After ThoughtsAlibaba Pictures as previously mentioned seems to be rather small. It would seem the larger companies have avoided the Warrior Cats series, despite it being very popular and should be a easy money maker at first glance. This is probably for the above reasons, a Warriors series would be very hard to get right as a movie.
However hope isn't lost, a smaller company could mean they will care more about the story, and unlike bigger companies that just want to quickly cash in on the newest popular series, they may well do their best to do the story justice. I have even heard rumours that they have contacted Warrior Cat youtubers for advice. Which is great, they want to get it right.
However this is easier said than done.
On top of the general issues above, we still don't know what to expect from the production side, it is likely to be animated naturally, but what sort of budget will this company be able to put into it and how will this potentially limited budget effect the movie?
There are also probably tons of other issues I have not mentioned, I know nothing about making movies and these are simply the things I a movie goer have observed.
Final PointsIn the end what should we expect?
If you are expecting a line for line adaptation of the books, you should sadly give that hope up now as that is just not practical for a book based movie regardless of the content. Visual media simply can't cover content like books can unless they were hours and hours long.
What we can hope for is a movie that is while not as violent as we may want, will at the least follow the story well. It will avoid cutting anything major and will for the most part be a reasonable adaptation, but will never compare to the books.
What we can fear, is a cut to the bare bones story that only resembles Warriors though the titles and character names, and will be hated by fans of the series for years to come.
We simply don't know what a movie would be like. A decent movie is not impossible but it will take a lot of hard work, let's hope Alibaba are up for it.
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