Masi Oka's MMORPG Inspired Project Gets Picked Up by DreamWorks
by Alex Billington
June 7, 2009
Heroes' star Masi Oka will make his transition to the big screen with The Defenders. But this isn't exactly what you're thinking. Masi conceived the idea on his own and DreamWorks just picked it up. The Defenders is a "family adventure project" about a group of teenagers from around the world who play a MMORPG, each unaware of who they really are behind the cover of their consoles and avatars. They are forced to come together for a real adventure, becoming inadvertent heroes in the process. Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci are producing (not writing) with D.J. Caruso (Eagle Eye) in negotiations to direct.
In addition to the movie, DreamWorks will develop a video game simultaneously with the feature. Masi is a gamer himself who came up with the idea while playing. "You can be whoever you want to be," Oka told THR. "The question came to me: What if you had to live up to the person you created in the virtual world?" This kind of sounds like one of those Star Trek episodes where the holodeck goes wild and brings the characters to life. Oka pitched the project to Kurtzman and Orci once he learned that they were looking to make "the kinds of movies that Amblin used to do, that combined an innocence with the adventure."
As mentioned earlier, Kurtzman and Orci (best known as screenwriters) won't be writing The Defenders, instead, Gary Whitta (upcoming Book of Eli) will be. Masi and Whitta bonded over their love for World of Warcraft. Masi has been working with Kurtzman and Orci to hone the concept for the past year. They brought it to D.J. Caruso, who liked it as well. "D.J. brings a naturalistic sensibility to kids," Kurtzman said. "He also roots the implausible and the reality in a way that allows you to buy the world." I'm not an MMO gamer anymore, but this seems like an interesting concept that I'm curious to find out more about.