It turns out that pop sensation and all-around Renaissance man Jackie Chan is a big fan of the new Warcraft movie, at least in relation to China.
Despite the fact that the film has been universally panned by critics and has totally flopped at most box offices around the world, it has become a record-breaking blockbuster in China, meaning that it will be considered an overall success after all. Speaking at his signature event at the Shanghai International Film Festival over the weekend, Chan couldn’t help but speculate about what this could mean for China, via The Hollywood Reporter:
Warcraft made 600 million RMB ($91 million) in two days — this has scared the Americans. If we can make a film that earns 10 billion ($1.5 billion), then people from all over the world who study film will learn Chinese, instead of us learning English.
It is you, not us who makes China powerful. So, thank you all — we hope the Chinese film industry gets even more powerful.
The makers of Warcraft should also be thanking Chinese audiences. The film managed only $24.3 million on its debut weekend in North America. It’s believed that it will end its run making around $55 to $65 million there, a total disaster for a film with a $160 million budget. But in China, it took in $46 million on just its first day and a combined $91 million in two. Right now, it’s up to $156 million.
Once overlooked as a film market, China has shot up to become the world’s second largest box office and is even expected to top North America next year. To do this, China is building more silver screens, 21 new ones a day to be precise, with Zeng Maojun, the president of Wanda Cinemas, believing that the optimal number of movie screens in China is 80,000. In 2015, China had 31,627 screens. We shudder to think what horrendous box office flops from the past could have been saved by this many Chinese screens.
Getting on these screens has become an essential concern for any Hollywood studio. Luckily for Warcraft, the film was made by Legendary Studios, which was acquired in January for $3.5 billion by China’s richest man and “local culture” advocate Wang Jianlin, CEO of Dalian Wanda. With help from Chinese capital and Wanda Cinemas, Warcraft has been shown on an unprecedented 68% of all screens in China. Last Thursday, the movie accounted for 81% of the Chinese box office.
But, at the time of writing this article, not all Hollywood studios are owned by Chinese billionaires. Therefore, some have had to get a little more creative in order to appeal to Chinese audiences, and, more importantly, get chosen as one of the 35 foreign films to be shown at Chinese theaters each year. In that effort, Adam Sandler’s creative integrity has been besmirched and Fan Bingbing has been seen more than is really necessary.
Even with all that incredible growth, it’s going to take some serious doing, for a Chinese film to reach Chan’s goal of $1.5 billion at the box office. The Hollywood Reporter breaks down the numbers:
It was unclear whether Chan was suggesting that he hopes a Chinese movie will make $1.5 billion from the Chinese market alone or worldwide. The biggest Chinese — or Hong Kong-Chinese — film to date is Stephen Chow’s comedy-fantasy The Mermaid, which grossed $528.6 million earlier this year. The highest-grossing movie ever worldwide is still Avatar with $2.7 billion, while Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the biggest ever in a single territory, having taken $936.6 million from North America alone.
If the Chinese box office continues growing at an average rate of 30 percent per year — which it has for the past five years — it’s conceivable that the country could produce a $1.5 billion domestic-grosser sometime over the next five to 10 years, barring a major market-stalling event.