China will be packing their bags for a journey to Azeroth this week as Warcraft hits theaters in the Middle Kingdom. If video game movies truly are the new superhero flicks, Duncan Jones' big-budget fantasy adventure is proving that bad reviews really don't count for much when the audience is already sold on the premise.
According to Deadline, all 285 midnight IMAX screenings of Warcraft across China on Wednesday night have sold out, and total advance ticket sales have already hit a huge $19.6m. Across the five-day weekend, Warcraft is expected to make anywhere from $100–150m. Even Captain America: Civil War "only" opened with $96m.
So why is China so crazy for a movie which critics tore apart for being "sludgy, tedious and fun-starved"? Around half of the 5 million gamers who play World of Warcraft are estimated to come from China, where fantasy is a majorly big deal.
Big openings everywhere except the US (where it is expected to make around $25m in its first weekend) suggest the world is ready for the tide of video game movies about to hit, which has to be good news for Splinter Cell (with Tom Hardy), Assassin's Creed (Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard) and The Division (Jake Gyllenhaal). The A-list talent joining each of these movies will also be a big box office draw.