Both Universal Pictures and Legendary Pictures have a lot riding on Warcraft, the big-budget film adaptation of Blizzard's hit fantasy video game series. The hope is that the film will spawn a epic fantasy franchise that will go on for years.
So far, reviews for the film have been poor (it's currently ranked well below Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows on Rotten Tomatoes), but that doesn't seem to be putting a damper on the film's financial future. According to Deadline, the film is estimated to bring in $100 to $150 million over a five-day period in China, with the movie premiering on June 8. Advance ticket sales for the movie are doing well, with Warcaft's early ticket numbers currently putting it in third place behind Furious 7 and Avengers: Age of Ultron. IMAX ticket sales are also breaking records, with Warcraft passing current IMAX pre-sale record-holder Captain America: Civil War.
Part of Warcraft's early success is all in the timing. The film will arrive ahead of the Dragon Boat festival holiday and just as high school exams wrap up in the country. It's a smart move on Legendary's part.
Meanwhile, the film is estimated to bring in only $25 million stateside opening weekend. It just goes to highlight the rapidly-changing nature of the Hollywood blockbuster. No longer are domestic totals as important as they once were. The real key to creating box office success is capturing the international market, namely China, and so far, Marvel and Legendary Pictures have proven adept at understanding that concept. Legendary has previously had success in China with films like Godzilla, Jurassic World and Pacific Rim, and Warcraft looks like it might end up being one of the company's biggest hits.
Warcraft, in many ways, is a perfect storm for Legendary Pictures, which was recently acquired by the Chinese company Dalian Wanda Group. Asian markets have a long association with Blizzard video games, including World of Warcraft. It's one of the few video game properties that is loved worldwide, making it ripe for box office success.
Warcraft's subtitle is the not-so-subtle "The Beginning," hinting at more films to come. Judging from these early reports, it sounds like a sequel is almost certainly set in stone, regardless of the film's critical reception.