In 2015, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Rob McElhenney was scheduled to direct an animated Minecraft movie starring Steve Carell. After being given a $150 million budget, courtesy of Warner Bros., McElhenney’s version of the film fizzled out and he left the project. As it turns out, the biggest reason for the change had to do with the departure of the film studio’s chief Greg Silverman in 2016. His replacement Toby Emmerich did not have the same vision for the Minecraft film, and as McElhenney explains, it “slowly died on the vine.”
Recently McElhenney appeared on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, in which he explained the details of his version of the film and why it never came to be. McElhenney gave praise to the Minecraft universe for allowing its players the freedom to be in control—to create anything they wanted. He said:
I think everybody feels marginalized to an extent. Your boss is telling you what to do all day long, or your spouse is. You just feel like you don’t have this sense of agency over your own life. The game gave you that, and I thought that’s a really profound experience.
After Silverman’s departure from Warner Bros., McElhenney left the project. He doesn’t bear any negative feelings about it, however:
I don’t harbor any resentment. I get it. I get the way that it works.
With these kinds of numbers and this kind of scale, $150 million, which is what we were budgeted for, it can fall apart at any moment. You have to live in that mystery.
In an alternate universe, a Rob McElhenney-directed version of the Minecraft movie exists, with a story focused on “people taking agency over their experience in this digital landscape.” We’ll never get to see what that could have been, but at least a Minecraft movie is still in the works, set to release in the next few years. The film is being headed by director Peter Sollett, best known for Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. It will feature a totally different story than McElhenney’s and is expected to launch sometime in 2022. Though, if the troubled production of other video game movies like Uncharted are any indication, who knows if this release window will stick.