Some moviegoers believe 2016 will mark a turnaround for video game film adaptations, citing works like Warcraft and Assassin’s Creed as reasons to be hopeful. However, as the former of those begins its rollout into theaters across the globe, the prospects do not seem very good. Duncan Jones’ fantasy film has had rough sledding with critics, with most reviews saying the movie will appeal more to die-hard fans of the game than the uninitiated. In addition, Warcraft‘s box office predictions are very poor. Domestically, it’s on track to make just $25 million in its first three days, significantly behind films such as The Conjuring 2 and Now You See Me 2.
But now, Warcraft is getting some much-needed good news. Debuting over the weekend in 20 international markets (two weeks before its U.S. and Chinese premieres), the film is posting some strong numbers, indicating that the worldwide box office could be a saving grace for the $160 million budgeted (not counting marketing costs) film when it’s all said and done.
According to Variety, Warcraft is slated to gross more than $30 million for the weekend after a $16.3 million haul as of Friday, May 27. It did its best business in Germany, scoring the biggest opening day of the year in the country with $2.2 million. The two day total (Thursday and Friday) is at $3.5 million, which accounts for a 45 percent market share. Warcraft also found success in France ($2.2 million in three days) and Sweden, where it posted the third-highest opening day ever for Universal in the territory with $539,000. Next week, the film opens in nine more countries and is obviously hoping for another large turnout.
There’s still a long way to go before Warcraft breaks even or turns a profit, but this is a nice start for the movie. At the same time, it remains to be seen what impact (if any) the negative to mixed word-of-mouth has on its longterm performance. The summer movie season is always the most crowded time of the year, and casual audiences may opt to save their dollars for another film if Warcraft isn’t seen as one of the better tentpoles. This June in particular is loaded with a number of high-profile works, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Finding Dory, and Independence Day: Resurgence, which are all expected to generate more mainstream interest than Warcraft. Depending on how its competition shakes up, Warcraft could have weak legs commercially.
If Warcraft ends up as the latest big-budget disappointment, it would be a blow for Universal, who had enough confidence in Jones’ vision to give the film a prime release window. Last year, the studio made several headlines for its box office prowess, as it ended up distributing multiple $1 billion hits and breaking numerous records in the process. Things have been different so far in 2016, with Disney emerging as the power player. Universal still has movies like The Secret Life of Pets and Jason Bourne to look forward to, but they have been brought back down to Earth after the highs of Jurassic World, Furious 7, and Minions.
Still, Warcraft may not end up being a total wash. The international box office has been the source of many boosts before, as illustrated by Pacific Rim and Terminator: Genisys. It has found an audience overseas, and that is a positive development. As long as it can continue to perform well in those markets, it ultimately may not matter what happens in North America. Warcraft may not be a massive smash, but there’s a chance it won’t be a total bomb either.
Warcraft opens in U.S. theaters June 10, 2016.