Box Office: 'Warcraft' Soars to Record $90M-Plus in China
Legendary and Universal's big-budget tentpole opened Wednesday and is getting the widest release ever in mainland China.
Video game adaptation Warcraft continues to break records, earning $44.5 million-$46.5 million on Thursday to bring its two-day total to $90.6 million-$92.2 million, according to estimates.
That marks the biggest Thursday of all time, beating box-office sensation The Mermaid and accounting for 81 percent of all ticket sold. And on Wednesday, the Legendary and Universal tentpole earned a record $46 million on its first day of play in China, the best opening day for a non-weekend release.
According to Legendary, Warcraft has become the fastest film to cross $90 million.
Heading into its China opening, analysts predicted that the pic could earn $120 million-$150 million in its five-day debut. At this pace, those estimates could be low.
In the U.S., however, the forecast is hardly as bright, with tracking suggest a launch in the $22 million-$24 million range, a muted start considering the movie's net budget of $160 million. But even if Warcraft underperforms in its North American run, the foreign box office could push it into the black, led by China.
Warcraft has already amassed $75 million elsewhere at the foreign box office, where it has rolled out in 28 markets. It is doing especially well in Russia and Germany, earning $17.3 million and $10 million, respectively, in its first 11 days. And its 11-day total in France is a solid $7.8 million. This past weekend, the film landed in the U.K. with $5.5 million, including previews.
Warcraft has 37 more countries in which to open. Universal is distributing the tentpole everywhere except China, where it marks the first film released by Legendary in the Middle Kingdom since the production company was bought by Wanda earlier this year. As such, it's a defining moment for the Wanda-Legendary partnership. (China Film Group and Huaxia are the official distributors.)
Warcraft boasts a myriad of financial investors, reducing the risk for any one party. Those backing the movie include Legendary/Wanda, Universal and a raft of China companies, including Tencent Pictures, China Film Group, Beijing Taihe Entertainment Co. and Huayi Brothers Media Group.
With so much China money in the pot, the various parties are making sure Warcraft gets the biggest profile possible in theaters. It is playing in a record-setting 67.5 percent of all theaters in mainland China, where there are some 39,000 screens (Furious 7 played in 62.8 percent).
In the U.S., Warcraft begins rolling out in theaters Thursday night before playing everywhere Friday. Tracking suggests it will lose the weekend to The Conjuring 2 and Now You See Me 2, although the race with the latter could be close. Warcraft has been skewered by critics and doesn't boast any A-list movie stars.
Thomas Tull's Legendary has been working with Blizzard to bring Warcraft to the big screen for a decade. Directed by Duncan Jones, the film stars Travis Fimmel, popular Hong Kong star Daniel Wu, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, Ben Schnetzer and Robert Kazin.
June 9, 8:45 a.m. Updated with Thursday box-office numbers.