Minecraft movie digs up a director: Mac from 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia'

Rob McElhenney will craft a movie from the globally popular mining and building game.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
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Rob McElhenney is the co-creator and star of shouty sitcom "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia". Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

The Minecraft movie has dug up a director. Rob McElhenney, creator and star of the sitcom "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia", no doubt has an A, B and C strike plan for adapting the hugely popular game into a movie.

Released in 2011, Minecraft is now the third best-selling video game of all time. Microsoft paid $2.5 billion (around £1.6 billion or AU$3.3 billion) to buy the game's developer Mojang, showing the kind of money the game makes. A blockbuster movie will be the latest spin-off of the globally adored gaming phenomenon, which has spawned books, toys, Lego sets and other merchandise.

Mojang announced the news with a photo showing McElhenney wielding a sword at London's Minecraft-themed fanstravaganza MineCon, which took place earlier this month.

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The obvious challenge of crafting a movie from the game, which involves mining materials and using them to construct stuff, is that it doesn't have much of a narrative. Still, that hasn't stopped movie adaptations of other toys and games, from "The Lego Movie" to "Moshi Monsters: The Movie" to the forthcoming " Warcraft", based on the massively multiplayer role-playing game World of Warcraft.

"Night at the Museum" director Shawn Levy previously had a crack at the story, but Mojang didn't feel his take, which harked back to '80s cult classic "The Goonies", felt right. It's not clear whether whether the film will be based on the same linear narrative as the recently announced Minecraft: Story Mode game.

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Filthy and funny FX show "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" has run for a whopping 10 seasons, with two more already commissioned. Despite co-creating the show, McElhenney, who is married to his "Sunny" co-star Kaitlin Olson, is relatively untested. His only non-"Sunny"-related directing credit so far is a TV movie starring Lou Diamond Phillips. As well as the Minecraft film, he's slated to direct a family action movie called "Figment".

The rest of the "Sunny" cast have also branched out recently, with Olson appearing in "The Heat", the new National Lampoon "Vacation" movie and "Finding Dory", the sequel to "Finding Nemo". Charlie Day has major roles in " Pacific Rim" and both "Horrible Bosses" movies, while Glenn Howerton had a horrifyingly memorable role as a hapless personal trainer in the TV adaptation of "Fargo". "Sunny" also stars Hollywood legend Danny DeVito.

The Minecraft movie is expected to spawn in cinemas in 2017.