Warcraft: The Beginning, the adaptation of the video game World of Warcraft, has proved a massive hit in China, with a first-day take of $46m (£31.8m), the second biggest in the country’s history after another Hollywood hit, Furious 7, which took $63.1m in its first 24 hours in 2015.
Warcraft’s impressive results put it on course to challenge Furious 7’s $150m opening instalment in China – and thoroughly dwarfs the projected result for its domestic release in the US, which is currently tracking for around $25m when it opens on Friday.
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Warcraft’s success in China has been ascribed partly to the game’s popularity there – according to the International Business Times (IBT), an estimated half of the world’s players are based in the country – and partly to the favourable position the film acquired in the release calendar due to the participation of a number of powerful Chinese enterprises in Warcraft: notably the purchase of production outfit Legendary Pictures by conglomerate Dalian Wanda.
However, box-office analysts don’t expect Warcraft to trouble any Hollywood-import grossing records, such as Furious 7’s total of $390m, let alone domestic record holder The Mermaid, which finished with $526m earlier this year.
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China Film Insider’s Jonathan Papish told IBT: “I don’t believe Warcraft can put up numbers near $400m because it is squarely targeted at a single demographic … That demographic, made up of fervent 20- to 30-something Chinese men who played the game when they were younger, might be massive, but movies that have broken out past $300m in China tend to be ones that hit with general audiences.”
Warcraft’s figures in China have seen the possibility of a planned sequel solidify, despite the dismissive reviews from many western critics. Variety called it “unwatchable” and “an epic fail”, while the Guardian’s Steve Rose wrote: “Its greatest battle could be against widespread indifference.” If a Warcraft sequel is to be greenlit, it would follow in the steps of Pacific Rim 2, which appeared to be stalled until the Chinese takeover of Legendary.