Warcraft fights its way to top of Chinese box office

A fan in costume livestreams her participation during China’s premiere of the Warcraft film at a theatre in Shanghai.
A fan in costume livestreams her participation during China’s premiere of the Warcraft film at a theatre in Shanghai. PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG • Warcraft, the Chinese-backed Hollywood film based on the popular online game, raked in the highest opening day at China's box office this year, shaping up into a windfall for billionaire Wang Jianlin's Legendary Entertainment.

The movie, co-produced by Legendary and backed by gaming giant Tencent Holdings, generated 300.4 million yuan (S$61.7 million) in ticket sales across Chinese theatres on Wednesday, according to industry-data provider EntGroup. That beat the 272 million yuan that Stephen Chow's The Mermaid brought on its debut earlier this year, according to EntGroup.

The film, based on Activision Blizzard's World Of Warcraft game, has much going for it to become a blockbuster in the world's second- largest movie market. Wang operates the country's biggest theatre chain and China accounts for at least 10 per cent of the 100 million fans of the game.

Nomura Holdings expects Warcraft, directed by David Bowie's son Duncan Jones, to generate as much as 2 billion yuan in ticket sales in China. That would make it China's second-highest earner this year.

Warcraft opens in the United States today and is expected to have a tepid US$22 million in sales there over its first weekend, eventually generating US$45 million in total, according to BoxOfficePro.com. Reviews have been poor, with 18 per cent favourable, according to RottenTomatoes.com.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2016, with the headline 'Warcraft fights its way to top of Chinese box office'. Print Edition | Subscribe