Earlier this year when Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice hit theaters, its record breaking debut coupled with a massive drop off fueled a serious debate in which people could not determine whether or not the film was a commercial success (despite $872.6 million globally). If that's what happened with Dawn of Justice, then this summer's Warcraft is an even more puzzling case. The video game adaptation was not able to break new ground for the genre domestically, as it's posted just $37.7 million in the States. Internationally, the story is completely different.
Since it opened in some overseas markets back in May, Warcraft has been performing extremely well at the worldwide box office, setting new marks in China. Thanks to the global totals, the film has already turned a nice profit - more than doubling its $160 million production budget. At $377.6 million worldwide (as of this writing), that haul may be enough to justify further adventures set in the world of Warcraft. As the movie continues its box office run, it's now set another record.
Per Box Office Mojo, Warcraft's total has now surpassed The Prince of Persia's $336 million globally to become the highest-grossing video game movie of all-time worldwide. Those familiar with the history of game-to-film adaptations know that the "competition" Warcraft faced for that title was scarce, but it's still a noteworthy achievement for what could have been a massive flop. Despite not catching on in North America, Warcraft has proven to be a successful investment for Universal.
It will be interesting to see what impact this has on the studio's plans for the burgeoning franchise. Titled in some countries as Warcraft: The Beginning, Duncan Jones' film was obviously being positioned as the start of a new fantasy film series - one that ideally could rival Lord of the Rings in terms of scope. Even though the critical reception wasn't there (read our review), it has found an audience who may be interested in seeing where the story goes in another chapter. One of Warcraft's shortcomings was prioritizing the foundation for followups over telling a solid narrative that could stand on its own merits, so perhaps a second film can be a marked improvement now that everything's been established.
That said, a Warcraft 2 has not been green lit yet, and there are still some pieces that need to fall into place before a sequel comes into fruition. Even for a would-be tentpole, Warcraft was very difficult to complete; principal photography took place back in 2014 and post-production took 20 months due to the extensive amount of CGI effects needed to render the orc characters and locations. This isn't something that can be put together (relatively) quickly, and one has to wonder if the demand would still be there when another one is ready for release. In addition, international success does not always parlay into fast turnaround on a sequel. Terminator: Genisys was saved from being a bomb, but Paramount is trying to figure out what to do with that property following the film's poor reviews.
So once again, it isn't clear if a 2016 film can qualify as a hit at the box office. Nobody expected Warcraft to pull in $1 billion or more, and the fact that it ended up in the black is a victory in it of itself. Still, its soft performance in certain markets is something of a concern, especially since more than $200 million of its total has come from one nation (China). In the end, Universal has to be pleased with these results, but they're in a tricky middle-ground as they plot a course for the future. But Pacific Rim is getting a sequel, so Warcraft could still be alive and get another shot.
Warcraft is now playing in U.S. theaters.
Source: Box Office Mojo