Duncan Jones’ Warcraft was not a success in the United States—based on a reported $160 million budget, it made only $47 million here. Internationally, however, it grossed almost 10 times that. This leads us to two questions: what happened and what’s next ?
Speaking to Thrillist, the director of Warcraft, Duncan Jones, admitted making a mythology-heavy video game adaptation in the studio system was a struggle.
I know that the movie is not perfect and I think one of the absolute frustrations of making a movie of this scale is that it is impossible, I think, to make a movie like this as an independent filmmaker. You have to find a way to squeeze it through the studio bureaucracies.
Trying to make a movie like Warcraft, and trying to do it in a unique way... you get killed by a death of 1,000 cuts. Not just editing cuts. It’s little changes that seem really innocuous. As a filmmaker the only way that I understand how to make a film is holistically. Every choice that I make, whether it is story or character or costume, all works together.
When you make a little change it doesn’t seem like a big deal. When you keep making those little changes, especially over three and a half years, suddenly you’re basically spending all of your time trying to work out how to patch up what has been messed around with.”
While these cuts may explain why the film didn’t work for U.S. audiences, they clearly didn’t matter in other countries. Out of the $386 million Warcraft grossed internationally, $221 million of that was in China, leading to some speculation that, if a sequel happens at all, it may not open in the United States.
Speaking to The Wrap, Sky Moore, a partner at a company called Stroock & Stroock & Lavan that’s worked on multiple U.S.-China co-production deals, speculated on that possibility.
“Who says it needs to have American actors?” Moor asked. “I would suspect that the sequel would be more China-centric. It’s very possible it wouldn’t be released here.”
If that happened (and there isn’t any actual evidence to suggest it will happen just yet) it raises the question of whether the sequel would be filmed in America or even in English—as well as the question of whether a major U.S. studio like Legendary would make a film purely for foreign markets. Even if Warcraft 2 doesn’t get made in this manner, this is still a possibility that’s becoming increasingly likely for other films as the importance of international box office rises exponentially.
“I’d expect more remakes in China of movies that did well there and not-so-well here,” Moore added. “It’s a big enough market.”