Despite mixed reviews, Duncan Jones’ film adaptation of Warcraft is already proving to be a huge hit in China, beating out the first day of ticket sales for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Bringing Warcraft to the big screen was no easy process, by any accounts. The effects-laden spectacle was painstakingly adapted from its source materials, a risky move at a time when fantasy films can’t be relied upon at the box office — but it seems that the movie is already finding a receptive audience in China.
Warcraft was released in Chinese cinemas yesterday, and apparently had an enormous first day in terms of ticket sales. Over the course of just twenty-four hours, the film managed to take a whopping $47 million at the box office, which is quite the accomplishment.
For comparison, Star Wars: The Force Awakens only managed to collect somewhere in the region of $30 million in its first day being shown in the country. Given that Episode VII was undoubtedly the biggest movie released in 2015, that demonstrates China’s enormous appetite for Warcraft.
This international success should help the movie offset what’s expected to be a tepid response in the United States. The film releases here on Friday, but it’s currently tracking to perform below earlier projections, as movies like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows and X-Men: Apocalypse dominate the box office.
Still, a strong performance in China and other major international markets could secure a sequel to Warcraft, which was intended to kick off a franchise. There’s already speculation that a follow-up co-funded by Chinese investors could be much more successful, now that the first movie has laid a lot of groundwork for characters and the setting.
On the other hand, Blizzard may well be more interested in the prospect of Chinese interest reinvigorating its MMORPG World of Warcraft. The game’s subscriber count has been falling for some time, but the movie could well help it reclaim some of its former glory.
However, a portion of the game’s most committed players would rather revisit the past than spend time with the MMORPG’s current interation. Earlier this year, thousands flocked to the fan-hosted ‘vanilla’ server Nostalrius — but it was promptly shut down by Blizzard amid accusations of copyright breach.
It’s clear that there are still plenty of people interested in the Warcraft franchise, but the brand has grown so large over the past decade that it’s difficult to determine how to please all portions of the fanbase. It will certainly be interesting to see how American audiences respond to the movie, as it could have a major impact on the direction of the IP going forward.
Warcraft releases in North America on June 10, 2016.