$160 Million-Budgeted ‘Warcraft’ Faces Tough Battle at Box Office

Courtesy of Universal

Ten years after first being announced, Universal-Legendary’s high-priced fantasy film “Warcraft” is generating only moderate interest among U.S. moviegoers.

Early tracking before the June 10 opening indicates that domestic performance for “Warcraft” may be held back by underwhelming reviews with projections for a moderate $25 million opening weekend — a downbeat result given its $160 million budget. Should that estimate hold, “Warcraft” will likely be heading for a third or fourth-place finish behind openings of New Line’s “The Conjuring 2” and Lionsgate’s “Now You See Me 2” along with the second weekend of Paramount’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.”

“The Conjuring 2” is looking to be the big winner of the trio with an opening weekend of $40 million-plus while “Now You See Me 2,” which Lionsgate expects to open strong, should finish in the $25 million to $28 million range.

Prospects on the domestic side may be iffy for “Warcraft,” given a harsh response so far from reviewers with a 38% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Variety’s Geoff Berkshire called the film “pricey and preposterous.”

Based on Blizzard Entertainment’s multi-player fantasy game, the videogame adaptation began its international launch Wednesday, opening in France, Indonesia and the Philippines. This weekend it bows in Germany, Russia and Scandinavia, followed by most of the rest of Europe next weekend and China on June 8.

With extensive use of CGI to portray mythical creatures and magical realms, the film’s lofty budget will require solid worldwide performance to push “Warcraft” into the black — particularly on the international side, where it’s expected to deliver stronger results than in the U.S. Universal has indicated that North America is viewed as being a spoke in a larger wheel rather than the driving force for the film.

“Warcraft,” directed by Duncan Jones, is the first major release from Legendary Entertainment since it was acquired by China powerhouse Dalian Wanda in January for $3.5 billion.

Legendary produced such blockbusters as “Jurassic World,” “Pacific Rim” and “Godzilla.” It also partnered with distributor Universal Pictures on last year’s hit “Straight Outta Compton” before misfiring on “Steve Jobs” and “Crimson Peak.”

Universal and Legendary will next partner on fantasy-actioner “The Great Wall,” starring Matt Damon and Andy Lau with China opening in December and the U.S. on Feb. 17.

“Warcraft”: A Long Road to Theaters

Development on the feature adaptation of “Warcraft” began 10 years ago in 2006. Filming didn’t start until January, 2014, and lasted for four months, primarily in Vancouver.

Starring Travis Fimmel, Dominic Cooper, Robert Kazinsky, Toby Kebbell, Ben Foster, and Ruth Negga, the movie is set in the peaceful realm of Azeroth, which stands on the brink of war as its civilization faces a fearsome race of Orc warriors fleeing their dying home to colonize another. It was produced by Charles Roven through his Atlas Entertainment banner.

“Warcraft” had originally been set to open on Dec. 18, 2015, but once Disney announced in late 2013 that it had skedded “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” on the same date, Universal and Legendary reacted by pushing the release back three months to March. And about a year ago, “Warcraft” moved back another three months along with delays for “The Mummy” reboot and “Pacific Rim 2.”

Not All June Gloom

Prospects are brighter for “The Conjuring 2,” three years after the supernatural thriller grossed over $318 million worldwide on a $20 million budget. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga played paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren who investigate a 1971 haunting in Rhode Island. Wilson and Farmiga return for the sequel, with the story this time set in England.

“The Conjuring” opened with $41.9 million on its way to a $137.4 million domestic total.

Heist adventure “Now You See Me” generated similar results in 2013 with a worldwide gross of $350 million on a $75 million budget that was mostly funded through Lionsgate presales. Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman reprise their roles  with appearances from Daniel Radcliffe, Lizzy Caplan, Jay Chou and Sanaa Lathan.

“Now You See Me” opened domestically with $29.4 million on its way to $117.7 million domestically.

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  1. casemonis says:

    who’s laughing now, $400M plus worldwide double both other films mentioned in this article. Based on just money alone seems to be doing better then most other shit films that came out for the last few years.

  2. WarcraftBombs says:

    LOLOLOL… Poor Blizz kids will have to fly to China to see the sequel. They are trying to make themseleves feel better by saying WOW is making them money when they are dropping subs like crazy.

  3. Tytial says:

    They have most likely already made their money back with the movie + returned players/new subscribers

  4. Vytherium says:

    The irony here is that blizzard makes upwards of 60 million a month from Warcraft subscriptions alone, a game made in 2004. (not including their digital store/other games/physical store/books etc) and with the release of their recent game Overwatch at £60 which has already sold over 7 million copies, they’re are in a position to churn out these movies frequently and still be really high up in their profit margins even if the tickets were free.

    Though honestly I expect the movie will do much better where its fan base is greater, especially in china where it has the most fanatical numbers.

  5. rob says:

    maybe if they allowed the movie to view in Canada on release it would gross a lot more.

  6. David Lopez says:

    I love all these posts made by brand new accounts saying
    Seriously Blizzard, why don’t you spend your money on making a proper movie, instead of making this piece of trash that nobody wants to see and then shill it to death?

    • Devin moravec says:

      Piece of trash? Excuse me? I started playing Warcraft when I was five. This is a world I have been dreaming about coming to life on film since then. I am glad they did not work things out in earlier years, because there is no way it would have turned out as good as it is. The acting is good. The storytelling is good (considering there is a crap ton more, yet they got a lot of it out in the subtle details very well without having to go into great detail). Was it perfect? Maybe not. For what it is though, it is an amazing movie, Magic looks fantastic. Orcs and other creatures like Gryphons look amazing. We are out here telling people to watch it, because we love it, and want it to do well enough to get the next part of the story out on film. One of my childhood dreams have come true. If you like fantasy and a decent action combat movie, go watch it.

    • Dolgthrasir says:

      New accounts? Yeah, that’s what happens when a ton of nerds who never read variety are linked to an article saying their beloved franchise is gonna bomb

  7. i am groot says:

    By the Gods I can’t frickin wait to see WARCRAFT! Most critics are jus wrong as usual and are sooo personal of Movies, especially X-Men Apocalypse, which was fantastic and epic! Yet it has a 50-something% on RT?! WTF get outta here yo. Warcraft is my most anticipated movie of the year only after Rogue One and I’m over the moon excited for it. Will it be perfect, no but it truly deserves to NOT be trashed and prayed as a box office BOMB. $25 million is F’d up, 65-70 is what I’m predicting. Glad some of you already seen it n enjoyed the film, especially player’s of Warcraft and WOW

    • Nick says:

      It stinks–even as a children’s movie, which is it’s key targeted audience. And the big difference between me and you? I’ve actually SEEN this mess.

      • Laura says:

        It really doesn’t deserve the abuse it’s been getting from some critics. imo

      • Laura says:

        This is no children’s movie. The PG-13 rating should be strongly considered. Saw it twice, once with son, once with husband. All enjoyed it. It’s flawed in spots but overall a decent movie that is easily followed if you don’t know the story. Some of the scenes definitely could be a little longer for those who have trouble keeping up. But the mo cap, the cgi was great.

      • Devin moravec says:

        Children’s movie? You obviously HAVNEN’T seen it. Seeing people’s souls being sucked from their bodies and giant monstrous humanoids smash the crap out of people isn’t generally considered a “children’s movie.” It WAS a great movie. Good acting, good getting details of a story that has SO much more to it in the subtle details, AMAZING magic effects!

      • Jd Bond says:

        I am pretty sure comic books target kids a lot more than video games..

      • Dolgthrasir says:

        it’s not a children’s movie. Video game != children.

    • David Lopez says:

      Man, these marketeers are not subtle at all.

  8. James says:

    went with people who never played the game and they cant wait to see what will happen next. they loved it. i do not get what all the critics are on about. not sure if their harsh opinions are more personal.

  9. Dion Dutra says:

    WTF is that the movie Was AWESOME and better than a lot of shit that critics like, and by the way i don’t understand how the critics are trashing the movie at all without any knowledge of the lore of the warcraft universe.

    • ws says:

      Its equivalent to some one trashing a LOTR movie because he never read any of JRR tolkien’s work.

      Apparently its ok to trash a video game, because in american culture it would make you look big and tough by picking on ‘video game nerds’

  10. Anna Rodina says:

    I’ve ssen it already (yesterday was the day of the release in belarus). and it’s awesome. yes i’m a player too, but it has a very strong dramatic story that catches non-players as well. (dramatic in classic sence, it’s almost like a greece drama with it’s compicated moral issiues)

  11. Wil says:

    As usual critics don’t know what they are talking about. I saw the movie also and it was really good. I hope it does do well at the box office so it will make all these non-believers look stupid.

  12. I have seen the movie and it’s good. The Orcs are fantastic, with a variety of characters and a interesting story. Leaving the audience wondering if the Orcs will find a new home. The magic is amazing and looks nothing like anything seen in a theatrical release. The movie looks different and I guess some critics dislike things that are different. Maybe they were expecting a LOTR clone.

    US box office, who know. I know of multiple groups that are reserving entire theaters to watch the movie. I went to a VIP mid-week, mid-afternoon screening which normally draws four or five people and the theater was packed.

    I do expect the ridiculously over the top bad reviews to affect general moving going audience. But, maybe we have to wait until May 30. My understanding is anyone who released a review, broke their May 30 embargo date. See if the critics who keep their promises give it better reviews.

  13. Jim says:

    People form opinions before they see the movie because that’s how they decide whether they want to spend their time and money on it. It’s the studio’s job through trailers, marketing, etc. to make people want to see the movie. Reviews and word of mouth form another piece of that decision-making process for many people. If people think it looks like garbage, then they aren’t going to spend their money on it. I’m not going to fork over money and a couple hours of my time just to “give them a chance”….I’m not running a Hollywood movie studio outreach program, lol.

  14. Cj says:

    Huh? These people at variety are not very bright. Do they not realize Blizzard has a huge fan base and it’s not some new unheard of IP. They have put a lot into this movie and so has there marketing team. I personally know that most of my friends and family
    are going to see warcraft. I’m taking my wife and kids for sure. A lot of people have been waiting a long time for this movie. It obviously doesn’t live up to the expectations of the critics at variety and it probably won’t for most people who expect to much from this movie. I just feel like anyone who has played a warcraft game at sometimes point in there life, which is a substantial amount of people, will have some interest in seeing this movie. If it only does 25 million I will seriously be shocked.

  15. Adam says:

    There’s NO WAY this film will recoup its 160 million dollar budget at the box office. This is a movie based on a PC game and thus will have a niche market. Very few people unfamiliar with the game will bother to go see this.

    • ws says:

      Then explain how Harry Potter and LOTR earned as much as they did? I’m sure that movies based on books are ‘niche market’ for fans as well.

    • Jd Bond says:

      LOL..China alone will recoup 160 million. It is making a record opening in China and already has been listed as 6th highest grosser, all based on pre-bookings. In every market it has opened as number 1 with extremely strong numbers.

    • It will easily recoup that budget at the box office. There are millions of current WoW players, plus millions more who have played in the past and like the franchise. Even if there is zero interest outside of its “niche market”, that “niche market” will sell around $200 million worth of tickets domestically, and that’s a conservative estimate. Every single Blizzard game sells at least 5 million copies, so if only one fifth of those people go see the movie on opening weekend, that’s a conservative average of $87 million, but of course opening weekend prices are higher than the average ticket cost across all movies.

    • Dolgthrasir says:

      “and thus”? it’s also based on several dozen books. This one in particular since the game Warcraft 1 barely had any story to it – only that which could be told on early 90s computers with limited space and resources and still have room for a complex RTS game. It’s a fantasy story that builds upon 20+ (real life) years of stories. Unlike most video game movies there’s remarkable depth here. The fallacy is that the genre is fantasy, not video game adaptation. Fantasy has a wide following.

  16. Jd Bond says:

    Best thing I like about comments below is that not one person giving their “objective” opinion has seen the movie. But they all pretend they just came from an advance screening! No different from our politics. I have an opinion, watch me give it!

    Not to say that movie is actually good but informed opinion is well..informed.
    “CGI is bad”. Hur Hur. I saw it on youtube!

  17. Alexander says:

    If it is not Disney or Marvel it must be slammed, that’s the trend these days. Most laughable are the people in comments who give opinions about the movie before they have seen it. It is not released yet. I will only say this: “Kek”

    • David Lopez says:

      Oh boy, these shills are 4chan fatsos, why am I not surprised.

      • Larry says:

        YOu realise “Kek” comes from Warcraft. Since there is a Language filter when Horde Races say “lol” in-game it comes up to Alliance players as “kek” to show there is a Language barrier.

        Jesus you people and your dumbfuckery are immense.

  18. Steven says:

    Ouch! Already a flop, poor Duncan Jones.

    • you going to really believe that with out seeing it for yourself? Thats kind of dumb watch it and base your own opinion. Don’t let some critic tell you how to think.

      • Dolgthrasir says:

        Don’t listen to critics alone is the biggest point. There’s a bunch of movies i’ve enjoyed that have been critically panned, but the audience reviews are pretty high. there’s some the other way around. Figure out where you sit on that balance.

      • Kenton says:

        The point of reviews are so I don’t spend my money on something that isn’t good. If I “saw it and formed my own opinion” with every badly reviewed movie, I’d have consistently wasted my time and money.

  19. Bill Brask says:

    Should be renamed Dramacraft

  20. Chris says:

    Huge flop coming in 2 weeks.

  21. Joe says:

    They spent all that money, but the Orcs still look like crap.

    • Gabriel says:

      Movie looks like crap! With all these years of technology and some producers still cant get the CGI right.

      • Steven says:

        It’s really embarrassing. Some critics said the CGI looks good but only from the trailers, even from the still promos, the CGI must be the most cheap looking I’ve seen in the last years. When did all that money go? Not certainly the actors, all of them are C-list.

  22. Marcus says:

    $160 million for THIS kid’s movie? Looks as if it was made for a whole lot less. They should have spent something to hire a screenwriter and a director.

  23. “Reviewers” showed their ignorance when comparing it to WoW…. it’s not the same thing….

    • Lolar says:

      You show your own ignorance repeating that bit of propaganda. It is the same thing. WoW was Blizzard’s success, they allow a movie to be made to pander to the fans of that game. Of course it’s a movie about the events that led to World of Warcraft, no one wants to go see a movie about other characters doing things they have already done. That is why they chose to place it earlier in the timeline, during the games that are practically unheard of in the gaming world these days.

      That aside, they waited far too long and shouldn’t have even tried to focus on the Orc’s, heck, that’s what has driven away a lot of players was Blizzard’s bowing to the horde left and right and making everything about them when people wanted alliance lore.

      • Steven says:

        WoW fangosi will never understand that we’re talking about a MOVIE here. The general audiences gives a crap on your semantics, they just want a good fantasy movie, and this is not.

  24. Lara says:

    Duncan Jones is a genuine talent and I`ve got high hopes for Mute, his next project.However, he may just need to chalk this one up to experience.

  25. Brad says:

    Variety should stop removing comment that say producers are scared of original scripts

  26. The Truth says:

    The Orcs don’t look convincingly real. It’s different when you’re playing a game with obviously animated characters than when passively watching a narrative featuring them. Unless you’re a young child, it’s difficult to feel engaged by conflicts with characters that don’t generate any authentic visceral response. It can work with well designed and rendered robotic machines, but when flesh is a stake, it needs to feel real.

  27. Directed by Duncan Jones–David Bowie’s son. Of course!

  28. Sageitzat says:

    It looks generic. It’s a movie that no one asked for, almost like The Huntsman. The tedious orange-hued palette (Gods of Egypt and every historical fantasy before it). Tedious. Let’s not forget the racist aspect, since the ORCS are made up to look Maori.

    • Maori turn green when exposed to Fel magic (demonic)

    • Sageitzat you sound like a tool since its obvious you know nothing about warcraft people have been asking for a movie for many years. Don’t buy into this bad talk the movie will be fun. Don’t listen to the negative talk about this movie this one give is 9/10

    • Tamwoot says:

      Do you get paid to sound dumb and uninformed in public. Over 100 million unique users over the last 20 years have played Warcraft, most of whom wanted an epic Warcraft movie.

    • saicam53 says:

      Actually alot of players and former players wanted a movie. And playing a race card? Orcs and the Maori people look nothing alike. Might as well say its racist because the humans look like, well humans.

  29. A ROCK (war craft) AND A HARD PLACE says:

    WAR CRAFT’S biggest hurdle is its generic looking trailer. It looks like a cheap spinoff of THE HOBBIT: BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES. For a lot of moviegoers I’m afraid the result is an EPIC FAIL. Add to that, as mentioned above, the release of 2 solid looking sequels, week #2 of the extremely potent TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES franchise, and you got the heart of WAR CRAFT’S problem, and extremely expensive fantasy, action, adventure, drama that opens sandwiched between blockbusters with established fanbases.

    • saicam53 says:

      I agree. I will still see the movie, but it could of benefited more at the end of the season, or later in there year. But they are trying to time it for the release of the new Warcraft expansion game. But you also gotta take in account for the games established fanbase. It may not do well in the US but the overseas numbers might throw it over.

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