We’re finally getting more details about the upcoming Minecraft movie, after years of being trapped in the bog of development hell. A Minecraft movie? Is that a thing we really want? Well, director Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite) was interviewed recently, and he talkedtalking about his enthusiasm for the project—.. Iincluding citing his desire to avoid a whole “Ugly Sonic” situation.
As we learned at the start of January, the latest incarnation of Warner’s attempt to make a movie from their 2014 option of the video game franchise has added Jack Black to its cast, alongside Jason Momoa, Emma Myers and Danielle Brooks. But there’s still scant information on what the film will actually be about, beyond the obvious that it’ll likely follow the loose arc of the game: villager defeats Ender Dragon.
Since then, Napoleon Dynamite director Jared Hess has spoken to the Salt Lake Tribune about making his first big-budget movie, and his fears of 10-year-olds’ wrath that comes with it.
“There’s got to be a fun, ridiculous movie here,” said Hess in the interview, talking about the prospect of making a film based on what’s essentially an open-ended sandbox game. “And there is.”
Co-written by his wife and fellow director Jerusha Hess, who co-wrote Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre, the couple say their kids—like most human children—“play the game endlessly,” which attracted them to the project. However, Jared stressed his concerns about goofing on such a popular property. Referring to the disastrous first appearance of Sonic the Hedgehog in the 2020 movie, the director explained, “I think anybody that does any IP, they just want to avoid an ugly Sonic situation.”
It’s interesting to hear a director citing that example, and shows there’s at least some awareness of the pitfalls ahead. The movie has been in pre-production for at least a year, the couple mentioning that their son helped out with the New Zealand-based art crew in 2023. Jerusha said he’s been “sawing square carrots all day.”
And yeah, physical props. Jared Hess explains that they’re shooting in Auckland, on “these ginormous soundstages,” working with Lord of the Rings’ production designer, Grant Major. It suggests a lot more physicality than you might expect from a project that could lean into a purely virtual production like The Mandalorian. And Hess definitely knows who the film’s audience is. In the Salt Lake Tribune interview he explains, “I just can’t disappoint the 10-year-olds, or they’re going to murder us.”
Of course, it’s important to remember that Hess didn’t stop making movies after Nacho Libre. There was Gentlemen Broncos, and Don Verdean, and Masterminds, and it’s safe to say there’s a reason people cite the pair’s pre-2009 work. The reputation hasn’t exactly been maintained.
However, it’s also been almost ten years since either made a movie, and in the time since they’ve worked on much more respectable TV projects, including the 3-hour Netflix documentary, Muscles & Mayhem: An Unauthorized Story of American Gladiators. And far more excitingly than anything to do with Minecraft, Jared Hess is attached to direct a threequel to the incredible Owen Wilson and Jackie Chan 2000 flick Shanghai Noon, called Shanghai Dawn. DO NOT JUDGE ME.
The Minecraft movie is likely to appear some time in 2025.