Thursday, June 16, 2016

Warcraft's Success May Alter Future Film Distribution

How about that Warcraft movie, huh?

I'm not talking about E3 today, so you can get your fill elsewhere. I want to talk about movies.

While the reviews and box office numbers have been pitiful domestically, it's been raking in the money internationally; China in particular has taken a shine to the movie with $156 million in ticket sales (after the exchange rate) during opening weekend. World-wide it's sitting at roughly $300 million. That's double the film's budget.

So what happened? How is it piss-poor in the U.S. and everyone else seems to enjoy it? Part of it is the Warcraft experience transcends the U.S. population. A lot of people seem to forget that. World of Warcraft still boasts some of the highest player and subscription numbers of any MMO (somewhere between 4-8 million depending on where you look and who to ask). While the movie is more of a prequel to WoW, it has a fan base. A large one. Those who know Warcraft stuff will go to see it. And as many reviewers have pointed out, that's the target audience for this film. It's not Lord of the Rings meant for the general audience. It's Warcraft meant for Warcraft fans. Which means if you don't know squat about Warcraft you are probably going to get lost in the story. I think this video from The Cinema Snob explains the point quite well.

And after seeing the movie, I would agree. My film nerd senses were disliking this so much, I was having a hard time sitting still. The multiple plot points and quick changes of the scenery made it difficult to keep up with the story. By the end, I didn't care what happened to the humans or the orcs. I just wanted it to be over with. But if you know the lore of Warcraft, I could see the appeal. There were a lot of references to the original story. If you are a fan, then you will probably enjoy seeing the beginnings of Azeroth form under the war banners in this CGI rendered epic.

There are some things that both sides of the love/hate argument can agree with: the orcs were too damn big. Like, I'm a giant from Jack and the Beanstalk, kind of oversized. It's silly when in comparison to the games (board and video) they are only slightly taller then humans. The pseudo-relationship between the half orc/half human woman with the warrior is laughably bad. Her make-up was also in dire need of a re-do with those fangs. She can barely talk! And the excessive back and forth between the human and orc camps was very distracting. It didn't allow for extra empathy to the orcs. It just made content more confusing.

While we may not have the best reviews of the movie here in the states, overseas Warcraft is currently king of the box office. It's made more then Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And I mean Star Wars in it's entire run - not Star Wars opening weekend. Warcraft beat out Star Wars in 5 days. Holy crap. The success of the film internationally is enough to spur a sequel, which is what Blizzard wants. But will a domestic release happen with this poor reception? This could be the first U.S. based film that moves overseas to become fully financed in Asia. It would be the start of a new trend, the market in China and India is massive and ripe for the entertainment world. Now with laws a little bit more relaxed on the type of content that can be released in these countries, it's a potential gold-mine for Hollywood. Blizzard would be crazy to not move the next movie to China for production and distribution.

Warcraft may not be the game movie we've all been hoping for. But it is making it's mark in the entertainment industry in a way we didn't predict. And it could change how future films are produced. Who knows? In a few years we may be the ones who are stuck waiting on film releases from China, hoping to see the latest Avengers on Blu-Ray, if we're so lucky.

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