Ten years after Blizzard Entertainment announced their plans to bring their popular Warcraft franchise to the big screen, the film is finally arriving in US theaters this week. Critical reviews have been abysmal, with the film currently holding a paltry 22% at Rotten Tomatoes, and early tracking shows an estimated opening weekend of $25 million – not very impressive, when considering the $160 million production budget.
But on the other side of the world, the box office tells a very different tale. Warcraft raked in $46 million in its first day of release in China, making it the country’s largest non-weekend opening ever, beating previous record holder Avengers: Age of Ultron by a significant margin (the latter grossed $28.3 million on opening day). The second day boasted more of the same, and at the time of this writing Warcraft has already amassed $90 million in China, overtaking Furious 7 and it’s $88 million to become the country’s largest two-day opening of all time.
This is great news for Legendary Pictures, who financed the film – with domestic projections coming in much lower than expected, they need a strong international showing to balance the scales. Warcraft has been screening in foreign territories for the past few weeks, and had already grossed $75 million before opening in China. At this rate, the film’s success overseas could float it far enough to justify a sequel – which would be fitting, since a major chunk of Warcraft‘s running time is spent establishing the world and setting up additional films.
World of Warcraft, the popular MMORPG whose dense lore inspire the Warcraft film, is hugely popular in China, so it makes sense that fans would flock to the theater to see the fantasy world brought to life – and it probably doesn’t hurt that Legendary Pictures was recently acquired by Dalian Wanda, a Chinese conglomerate. Box office analysts have written at length about the increasing importance of big openings in China, and Warcraft seems to present a perfect example of how much difference a strong international release can make.
Warcraft opens in US theaters on June 10.
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