Warcraft, (also known as Warcraft: The Beginning), is a movie directed by Duncan Jones, produced by Legendary Pictures, and distributed by Universal Pictures. It began filming at the beginning of 2014, and was released on May 30, 2016 in the UK and on June 10, 2016 in the United States. AMC and IMAX ran a promotion that allowed US moviegoers to see the movie early on June 8, 2016 at select AMC/IMAX 3D theaters. However, the world premiere was in Paris on the night of May 24, 2016.
The official Warcraft Movie Weibo account (Chinese version of Twitter) strongly hinted that a sequel was likely to be made, though there has been no official word as to whether a Warcraft 2 will ever be filmed.
The peaceful realm of Azeroth stands on the brink of war as its civilization faces a fearsome race of invaders: orc warriors fleeing their dying home to colonize another. As a portal opens to connect the two worlds, one army faces destruction and the other faces extinction. From opposing sides, two heroes are set on a collision course that will decide the fate of their family, their people, and their home.
So begins a spectacular saga of power and sacrifice in which war has many faces, and everyone fights for something.
The story has as its core the events leading up to and including those played through in Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, the very first game in the Warcraft franchise. It focuses on the characters of Durotan - a noble orc trying to escape his dying world, protecting his family, and watching in horror as his kin succumb to the temptation offered by Gul'dan; Anduin Lothar - a military commander of Stormwind City who will do anything to keep his people safe; Garona Halforcen - a pawn trying to throw off her yoke; and Khadgar - a young mage slowly learning of his teacher's descent into madness and treachery.
As of late June 2016, the movie had made over $400 million worldwide. China led all markets by a large margin by bringing in over $200 million by themselves. The US was second at $44 million. Russia, Germany, and France followed with $21.6 million, $13.8 million, and $10.9 million respectively. South Korea led all other Asian countries at $8.4 million while Brazil led all South American countries at $5.6 million. Africa did not do that much, but in the Middle East, UAE registered around $2.3 million.
The movie had largely run its course as of mid-July 2016 with the last major country release in Japan on July 1, 2016, but had made over $430 million worldwide. China did most of the heavy lifting with $220 million.
Warcraft was one of the first 4K blu-ray releases from Universal Pictures. Pre-orders for blu-ray and DVD started on June 24, 2016. with physical copes available as DVD on September 27, 2016. It was supposed to be available as Blu-Ray, 3D, and 4K Ultra on October 10, 2016, but it was moved up to match the DVD release date apparently.
Initial DVD and blu-ray sales were promising with Warcraft leading the pack in the first week after release.
In a May 9, 2006 press release, Blizzard Entertainment and Legendary Pictures (makers of Batman Begins and 300) announced that they would develop a live-action film set in the Warcraft universe. Legendary Pictures acquired the movie rights for the game universe, and both companies were focused on translating the Warcraft experience to the big screen. Uwe Boll attempted to apply for the job of director, to which Blizzard CEO Paul Sams replied "We will not sell the movie rights, not to you... especially not to you." At BlizzCon 2008, according to Mike Morhaime, a script was being written. Chris Metzen mentioned that the film would be action-packed and violent, stating "We're definitely not going to make a G or a PG version of this. It's not PillowfightCraft."
The live-action film was set for release in 2009, but was later rescheduled to 2011. On July 22, 2009, Blizzard Entertainment announced that Sam Raimi would become the Warcraft movie director, but in July 2012 he told Crave Online that he would not direct due to committing to the movie Oz: The Great and Powerful.
As of early 2012, the movie had still not entered production. At ComicCon 2011, Chris Metzen said the movie was not dead, but gave few useful details, saying it was still in the "treatment stage". In mid-March 2012, Nethaera said the movie was "still on the radar" with no other update.
In late January 2013, Legendary Pictures announced that director Duncan Jones had been attached to production, sparking some hope the filming might start. No specific development news surfaced in Spring 2013, but lots of indirect evidence had cropped up. Previous Director Sam Raimi revealed that a lot of pre-production work was done by him and Robert Rodat (script writer) prior to their exit, but Blizzard effectively vetoed their work.
The film received an official announcement and short teaser at Comic-Con 2013. The film was to begin principal photography some time in early 2014.
A very short visual teaser for the film was introduced by Duncan Jones at San Diego Comic-Con. Below is a brief description of the teaser which was not released to the public:
A view of a desolate, dry landscape full of rocky outcroppings that pans to a scruffy, armored human soldier drinking water from a leather skin. A cage with rocks in it is shown followed by a squeaking noise as a green tinged sky is shown with dark clouds and green lightning. The waterskin is tossed to the ground and the soldier draws his sword with a sound of metal ringing off metal. The human walks over to the skeleton a fallen soldier and picks up the soldier's shield. He smashes his sword on the shield, apparently testing it. Cut to the muscled green arm (likely of an orc) of a creature heading toward the soldier. They circle each other with flashes of green skin and some armor as they charge each other. An extreme closeup of the orc as it raises its hammer and brings it down as the human raises his shield. Cut to black. A Warcraft logo. And then the Blizzard Entertainment logo.
It was initially announced the movie would release on December 18, 2015. However, the next installment of the Star Wars franchise was scheduled for late 2015, so it prompted the studio to move the Warcraft film release to March 16, 2016.
For reasons not specifically given (perhaps to take advantage of traditional action movie summer season), the studios delayed the release again to June 10, 2016.
On April 23, 2015 Legendary Pictures announced release date changes for Warcraft to move from March 11th, 2016 to June 10th, 2016. Although not officially announced by the studio, the changes were most likely made to avoid the March 25, 2016 release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
In early February 2016, Universal UK, the UK distributor, announced the UK release date for the movie would move up to May 30th, 2016. No reasons were given, but some speculated it was to coincide with the Spring Bank holiday which fell on May 30th.
In an interview with Australia's FilmInk, Duncan Jones hinted that he was trying to get a cameo done with Chris Metzen.
An official TV Spot (#1) was released January 24th, 2016 with a second one (#2) on March 17th, 2016. An apparent Twitter video exclusive trailer was posted March 19th, 2016.
In May 2016, Universal announced that it would not restrict which theaters Warcraft could play in across the U.S., basically ending a practice called "distributor clearance", which was more like exclusivity agreements with certain theater chains in certain regions.
Previously called "World of Warcraft: Ultimate Movie Edition", the promotion became official on May 17, 2016. The only US theater chains participating were from the Regal Entertainment Group: Regal Cinemas, United Artists Theaters, and Edwards Theaters. Some of the larger theater chains (AMC, Cinemark, and Cineplex) in the US and Canada didn't appear to participate. Also, it appeared that only Brazil was including 30 days of free game time, but Blizzard sources said it would be for all recipients. Promotional period varied by country and theater chain:
Reception of the film by professional critics was largely negative, with most reviews being below average. As of the worldwide premiere on May 25, 2016, Metacritic gave the movie 32/100 and Rotten Tomatoes gave it 38%, but with less than 10 reviews counted at that point. After the US premiere, Metacritic had declined slightly to 31/100 and Rotten Tomatoes had declined dramatically to 18%. Despite being a critical failure (primarily in the US and UK), regular viewers generally responded more positively in international markets by propelling it to number 1 for its opening weekend in 19 of 20 overseas markets. It appeared to be very popular in China by setting pre-sales records and setting the record for widest release ever of any movie, beating the previous champion, Furious 7.
It is important to note that while the movie's reception by critics has been abysmal in the United States, the user reviews after the first weekend (8.5+/10 on Metacritic and 80%+ on Rotten Tomatoes) have been generally good. As such, the critics do not seem to be representing the users.
Another peculiar phenomenon is disparate reviews from some sites. Kotaku had an initial very negative review and then a day later posted a positive review. Another example is a generally positive review in Den of Geek after the worldwide debut in France in late May and then a much more negative review in early June a few days before the US premiere.
HitFix.comSo I went to the 'Warcraft' premiere, and all I got were these amazing memoriesBy Donna Dickens Tuesday, Jun 7, 2016 6:55 PM
Deadline Hollywood‘Warcraft’ Wows With China Pre-Sales Records; How Big Is Its Box Office Game?by Nancy Tartaglione June 6, 2016 9:29am; updated June 7, 2016 10:13am (far more detail than Variety article below)
GlobalTimes.cnWill ‘Warcraft’ film’s built-in fan base save the movie in China?By Wei Xi, 2016-6-6 19:28:01
Bloomberg.com‘Warcraft’ to Be Bigger Than ‘Star Wars’ in China. Here’s WhyPrudence Ho June 6, 2016 — 3:00 PM PDT; Updated on June 6, 2016 — 6:56 PM PDT
Variety.com‘Warcraft’ Fever Hits China as Advance Sales Reach $20.4 MillionDave McNary June 6, 2016 08:31AM PT