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Though American audiences have to wait until June 10 to see the first movie based on the global sensation that is Warcraft, key international markets were able to start screening the blockbuster over our Memorial Day weekend, leading to a healthy head start for Universal’s possible tentpole, and a shot in the arm for director Duncan Jones.
Numbers will continue to filter in as Monday ticks along, but with the weekend concluding, BoxOfficeMojo reports that Duncan Jones’ Warcraft has earned an impressive $31.6 million. The video game adaptation is testing the waters in 20 international markets, and according to Deadline, it was trending at No. 1 in 19 of those regions, with Russia and Germany being particularly productive for Warcraft. Russia, as of this printing, had contributed $4.9M to the Warcraft war chest, while Germany had kicked in $3.5M.
Warcraft loosely translates the story from the ongoing Warcraft video game series, as well as the novels that are set in the world of Azeroth. In this narrative, the orc Gul’dan (Daniel Wu) opens a portal between his dying world, and the human world of Azeroth. Faced with the possibility of extinction, the humans, led by Sir Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel), must decide whether to assist the orcs – and figure out how the portal operates – while risking losing everything in a sustained war.
Warcraft is just the latest Hollywood blockbuster to begin earning back some of its budget with an overseas push. Disney has employed this game plan with both its Marvel and its Star Wars properties, while major franchises from Star Trek to Transformers regularly open in foreign markets before U.S. audiences are able to get a ticket to a screening. Piracy becomes a concern. Once a movie is open overseas, it become easier for a version to get ripped on the Web. But there’s no doubt that strong international box office and powerful word of mouth can help a blockbuster as it spreads into the overcrowded U.S. theatrical marketplace.
Duncan Jones’ movie will need the help. The reviews have not been kind to the movie early on, with Rotten Tomatoes collecting a 19% Fresh grade for the film (with 21 reviews filed). Still, it’s understandable that Warcraft has a built in global audience, as the role-playing video has been around – in various forms – since 1994. It has taken a long time for Warcraft to reach the big screen, and I’m sure there are curious gamers who will be checking out the movie to see if it was worth the wait.