Warcraft And The Movies That Were Saved By China


It looks like Duncan Jones’ ambitious fantasy epic ‘Warcraft’ has been given something of a box office reprieve following its disastrous debut in the US.

The movie made a truly woeful $24.4 million (£17 million) on its opening weekend in the States, not even a fraction of what might have been expected of it.

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However, it’s a totally different story in China, where – likely thanks to the popularity of the PC game in Asia - it’s smashed all previous box office records.

It’s made a staggering $156 million (£109 million) in just five days, almost its entire production budget, and sailing past previous box office champ, 'Avengers: Age of Ultron’.

Legendary, the film’s producer, must be breathing a sigh of relief, though there’s a long way to go before it will see any profit.

But it’s not the only studio to have been thrown a lifeline by what is now the world’s second largest movie market.


Guillermo Del Toro’s kaiju vs. robots actioner 'Pacific Rim’ failed to set the world box office alight in 2013.

It made a disappointing $101 million (£71 million) in the US and Canada, but thanks to an additional bump of another $111 million (£78 million) from China, it limped out of the red, and now there’s a sequel on the way, a sequel that would have been highly unlikely without the Chinese haul.

Though it sounds like a huge number, 'Transformers: Age of Extinction’ underperformed in the US, making $245 million (£172 million), not substantially more than its hefty $210 million (£147 million) production budget.

But thanks to a massive $320 million (£225 million) from China, it breached the $1 billion mark worldwide, and the staggeringly expensive franchise lived to fight another day.


And while 'Fast & Furious 7’ was doing fine in the US and abroad, it wasn’t until it opened in China that things suddenly ramped up.

It became – and remains – the highest-grossing movie in China, making a stunning $391 million (£275 million), kicking sand in the face of its previous record-holder, 'Avatar’, which made $204 million (£143 million), a paltry sum by comparison.

The movie made more in China, in fact, than it did in the US ($351 million - £247 million), providing the lion’s share of the $1.51 billion (£1.06 billion) it made worldwide.

Sly Stallone’s 'Expendables 3’ tanked in the US, with a truly rubbish $39 million (£27.4 million) domestic, the disappointing performance blamed on piracy after the movie was leaked on torrent sites.


But despite its availability online, the Chinese market attended in droves, bringing in $72 million (£50 million), not far off twice that made in the US and pulling the movie from the doldrums.

As Hollywood’s production, wages and marketing bills continue to spiral out of control and into the hundreds of millions of dollars, it appears that the Chinese market is bailing out domestic flops more and more often.

Image credits: Legendary/Warner Bros/Universal/Lionsgate