Universal and Legendary may not win the weekend box office with their video game adaptation Warcraft here in the U.S., but in one of the world's largest markets for film, it's no contest.
Warcraft has obliterated expectations in China, earning $145 million over its first four days in theatrical release.
For context, Star Wars: The Force Awakens earned $125 million in China...during its entire theatrical run.
Warcraft now has a worldwide total of $277 million from 51 markets so far with 23 launching this weekend, per Variety's math. It’s opened as the number one film in 45 of those markets, with launches starting May 25.
Barring a significant change of fortune, North America won't be one of those markets. The film is looking at about a $30 million opening, compared to $45 million for The Conjuring 2 this weekend.
A big international haul will go a long way toward making the $150 million investment of Warcraft a winner for Legendary and Universal. They've been hoping this film would launch a franchise, but it just hasn't seemed to be able to get a lot of traction with American audiences, who have been hopping from blockbuster to blockbuster since Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice hit in late March.
As the international market for Hollywood movies grows, there have been a number of films that failed to earn their money back in North America but nevertheless went on to become hits, including Men in Black 3, which was pronounced dead on arrival only to go on to gross enough that Sony almost immediately started developing another installment.
Looking to escape from his dying world, the orc shaman Gul'dan utilizes dark magic to open a portal to the human realm of Azeroth. Supported by the fierce fighter Blackhand, Gul'dan organizes the orc clans into a conquering army called the Horde. Uniting to protect Azeroth from these hulking invaders are King Llane, the mighty warrior Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel) and the powerful wizard Medivh. As the two races collide, leaders from each side start to question if war is the only answer.