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‘Warcraft’ Shatters Records With $156 Million China Debut

Warcraft” racked up a massive $156 million over its first five days in China, setting a new record for the biggest debut for a foreign release in the country’s history.

It’s good news for Legendary and Universal, the backers of the $160 million video game adaptation. “Warcraft” bombed during its stateside premiere this weekend, eking out a $24.4 million debut.

“Warcraft’s” performance in China flew past the high-water mark set for a foreign release in 2015 with “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” Despite the tepid response from stateside crowds, “Warcraft” is shaping up to be a box office hit. It’s a sign of the importance of foreign audiences.

“It’s not a different kind of success story, it’s a global success story,” said Nick Carpou, Universal’s domestic distribution chief. “It has to do with the globalization of the theatrical business and the fact that international markets are getting stronger and stronger.”

China is widely expected to pass the United States as the world’s largest market for film by 2017. Foreign crowds have helped rescue troubled pictures in the past, with Asian markets, in particular, reviving the fortunes of films such as “Terminator: Genisys” and “Pacific Rim” after they bombed domestically.

“At some point you’re going to have a hugely budgeted film from a North American company that forgoes a North American release,” predicted Jeff Bock, an analyst with Exhibitor Relations. “There are going to be more films that appeal just to that part of the world, the same way there are U.S. films that do no business in the rest of the world.”

“Warcraft” had a lot of elements that accounted for its success in China. Not only is the game, “World of Warcraft,” hugely popular in the country, but Legendary, the film’s producer is owned by Dalian Wanda, one of the countries largest entertainment companies.

The film is doing well in other foreign territories. Its global total now stands at $286.1 million and there are 14 more territories left to open over the next two months. Next weekend, “Warcraft” will debut in Australia, Cyprus, Mexico, New Zealand and Venezuela.

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