‘Warcraft’ faces tough battle at box office

‘Warcraft’ faces tough battle at box office

Ten years after first being announced, Universal-Legendary’s high-priced fantasy film “Warcraft” is generating only moderate interest among U.S. moviegoers.

Early tracking before the June 10 opening indicates that domestic performance for “Warcraft” may be held back by underwhelming reviews with projections for a moderate $25 million opening weekend — a downbeat result given its $160 million budget. Should that estimate hold, “Warcraft” will likely be heading for a third or fourth-place finish behind openings of New Line’s “The Conjuring 2” and Lionsgate’s “Now You See Me 2” along with the second weekend of Paramount’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.”

“The Conjuring 2” is looking to be the big winner of the trio with an opening weekend of $40 million-plus while “Now You See Me 2,” which Lionsgate expects to open strong, should finish in the $25 million to $28 million range.

Prospects on the domestic side may be iffy for “Warcraft,” given a harsh response so far from reviewers with a 38% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Variety’s Geoff Berkshire called the film “pricey and preposterous.”

Based on Blizzard Entertainment’s multi-player fantasy game, the videogame adaptation began its international launch Wednesday, opening in France, Indonesia and the Philippines. This weekend it bows in Germany, Russia and Scandinavia, followed by most of the rest of Europe next weekend and China on June 8.

With extensive use of CGI to portray mythical creatures and magical realms, the film’s lofty budget will require solid worldwide performance to push “Warcraft” into the black — particularly on the international side, where it’s expected to deliver stronger results than in the U.S. Universal has indicated that North America is viewed as being a spoke in a larger wheel rather than the driving force for the film.

“Warcraft,” directed by Duncan Jones, is the first major release from Legendary Entertainment since it was acquired by China powerhouse Dalian Wanda in January for $3.5 billion.

Legendary produced such blockbusters as “Jurassic World,” “Pacific Rim” and “Godzilla.” It also partnered with distributor Universal Pictures on last year’s hit “Straight Outta Compton” before misfiring on “Steve Jobs” and “Crimson Peak.”

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