When a big budget, Hollywood blockbuster opens with $24 million and negative critical reviews, it's instantly called a flop. And if it has an opening weekend of $156 million and gets an 83% positive review from audiences, we call it a success….
So what if the same movie did both?
The Legendary Pictures film Warcraft, directed by Duncan Jones and based on the popular MMORPG World of Warcraft, did just that. Domestically the film took in just $24.1 million over the opening weekend while in China the film did $156 million. Looking at Rotten Tomatoes, the critics scored it 27% while audiences went with 83% positive. Total foreign box office is at $280 million as of today for a film with $160 million production cost.
The combined amount of $306 million puts it as the 11th highest grossing film of the year and likely to crack the top ten by the end of next weekend. The film also just made an additional $18 million for the digital rights to be streamed in China.
Odds are there will be a sequel. The studio can justify it easily by showing the audience score and the China box office. Other films this year have also done better in the foreign market than domestic. The Mermaid (Mei ren yu) and Monster Hunt are both foreign films with domestic releases that didn't do much. And the Angry Birds Movie took in $98 million here and $213 overseas.
The increasing strength of the Chinese market may be the saving grace for some of the studios big budget tent poles that don't do well here. So the odds are we'll be seeing a Warcraft 2… time for the Lich King.