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Expectations low for U.S. release of 'Warcraft,' but it's breaking records in China

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Director Duncan Jones’ Warcraft adaptation opens stateside on Friday, and while poor reviews have analysts hedging their bets on the film’s domestic box-office potential, it may not matter all that much. Foreign markets are expected to be the film’s bread and butter, and it is already breaking records in a country with more than quadruple the population of the good ol’ USofA.

According to Collider, the film is already a sensation in China, hauling in a record $8.4 million during its midnight screenings Tuesday night and besting the mark set by Furious 7. On top of that, it has already netted a cool $20.4 million in advanced ticket sales. To put that in perspective, estimates suggest that the film will take in just $22 million to $24 million for its entire opening weekend here in the U.S.

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Related: New ‘Creating Warcraft’ featurette looks at adapting the game to film

The news shouldn’t come as a total shock, since the movie’s video game namesake has a massive and dedicated player base in The Middle Kingdom, but the broader story here is that it’s becoming more common to see films tailored to succeed in foreign markets at the expense of the domestic market.

In recent years, overseas ticket sales have begun to represent a larger and larger share of Hollywood’s overall gross, and China — with more than one billion potential customers — has helped drive this market shift.

That said, China isn’t the only overseas market in which Warcraft is thriving. As reported by The Hollywood Reporter, it has already raked in a total of $75 million in other foreign locales, including Russia and Germany, where it earned $17.3 million and $10 million, respectively, in its first 11 days. It also netted $7.8 million in France during the same span.

Like it or not, the film industry, while centered in Hollywood, is a global one, and the tastes of the rest of the world are having more of an effect on the types of films that do and don’t see the light of day.

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