The Warcraft movie is a massive box office hit, even before opening in the US
Although Duncan Jones’ Warcraft movie has been receiving mixed reviews, the film is already a box office hit thanks primarily to China, where it recorded the biggest Wednesday and Thursday opening in Chinese box office history.
In a somewhat unusual move, Warcraft opened in 20 countries around the world, in some cases as much as two weeks before the North American release. Despite reviews ranging from mixed to flat out bad, the film has already earned $168 million worldwide. Given that the film reportedly cost $160 million to make, everything that comes next is profit (not counting the marketing).
The film opened in China on Wednesday and went on earn $46 million, setting the record for the largest non-weekend release in Chinese history. It then followed that with another record-setting day on Thursday, taking in between $44.5-46.5 million, for a total of over $90 million in just two days.
The initial estimates predicted the film would earn more than $100 million over the five-day opening week in China. Given the record-setting numbers so far, those estimates seem incredibly low. And given the current trajectory, the film will likely earn around $150 million from Friday through Sunday, bring its five-day total to around $240-250 million in China alone. Add that to the box office from the 20 countries where the film has earned around $77 million, and that means the film could earn more than $325 million in its opening weekend before even adding the US results.
Early box office estimates for America put Warcraft’s opening weekend at a disappointing $25 million. Of course, no one predicted just how well the film would do in China, so there is plenty of reason to think the American estimates are low. Even if that prediction is accurate, the film seems to be doing well enough that it is a success by most measures.
Although Universal would certainly like a big US opening, Warcraft was developed by Legendary, which is now a subsidiary of the Chinese company, the Wanda Group. In China, the film was even titled Warcraft: The Beginning, which seems to signify the promise of more. The Chinese box office may help to ensure a sequel, even if the low US box office estimates hold true – but again, they may not.
Blizzard’s World of Warcraft has been a huge hit in China since its release in 2005. The game was censored to dampen the violence and character creation options, and the Chinese government demanded that a countdown timer be installed in the wake of fears over internet addiction, but it is mostly the same game. Blizzard even released the expansion Mists of Pandaria, featuring characters and settings meant to appeal to the Chinese market.
There have been an estimated 10 million WoW accounts in China, although the game’s popularity has significantly diminished around the world recently. Still, if the Chinese fanbase can rally and see the film in droves, the American base might as well.
Warcraft opens in North America tomorrow. Look for our review coming soon.