Even though Duncan Jones' Warcraft has had rough sledding with critics (read our review) and is poised for a soft opening weekend at the U.S. box office, the film is finding tremendous success overseas - particularly in China. Warcraft set a new opening day record in the country with $46 million, and then raised its total to $90 million after two days. Those figures have given the movie a nice boost at the box office, with the worldwide haul currently sitting at $287.6 million, well above its $160 million production budget (which does not include marketing costs).
Warcraft is going to need all the help it can get internationally, since the negative word-of-mouth seems to have dissuaded American moviegoers from checking it out. On June 10 (its opening day in the States), the fantasy flick grossed only $10.7 million, nearly $6 million behind The Conjuring 2. Fortunately for Universal, the potential franchise starter continues to do very well around the world and has broken yet another Chinese box office record.
According to Variety, the video game adaptation has brought in $145 million over its first four days playing, which is five times more than the projected U.S. opening weekend total of $27 million. It is now the fastest international film to pass $135 million in the territory, beating the previous mark set by last year's Furious 7. James Wan's action sequel ended its Chinese run with an impressive $390 million, so this appears to be the start of a lucrative stretch for Warcraft.
This will come as great news to fans of Jones' vision hoping to see further installments set in the universe. One of the major complaints about Warcraft was that it was too pre-occupied with establishing the groundwork for sequels as opposed to telling a solid story that could stand on its own merits, so ideally any followups would be a more rewarding experience. Warcraft 2 hasn't been given a green light yet, but this is a step in the right direction. Even if it underperforms domestically, the global gross indicates that there is a demand and interest for the property. This isn't the first time the international box office has served as a saving grace for a budding tentpole; Pacific Rim is getting a sequel thanks to its $411 million total, and Terminator: Genisys brought in $440.6 million worldwide.
While Warcraft is off to a great start, it will be interesting to see how it holds up as the summer progresses. June sees the release of two highly anticipated sequels in Finding Dory and Independence Day: Resurgence, both of which should be able to do some damage commercially. Given that Warcraft hasn't scored the rosiest reviews, some audiences may choose to save their money for something that's better received. At the same time, certain brands have proven to be critic proof (see: the $1 billion performances of the Transformers films), so perhaps Warcraft - with its built-in fan base of millions of players - is about to join those ranks.
Either way, Universal and Legendary Pictures can rest easy knowing that their massive investment isn't a wash. Warcraft is on its way to turning a profit, which given the circumstances, has to be considered a major victory. Games have had a troubled road making the transition to the big screen in the past, and this could be the most financially successful one yet. Jones may not have been able to rival Lord of the Rings in terms of reception and usher in an era of acclaimed video game films, but this shows there's hope for the genre yet.
Warcraft is now playing in U.S. theaters.