Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Duncan Jones|
|Story by||Chris Metzen|
by Blizzard Entertainment
|Music by||Ramin Djawadi|
|Edited by||Paul Hirsch|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$433.5 million|
Warcraft (alternatively known as Warcraft: The Beginning) is a 2016 American action-fantasy film directed by Duncan Jones and written by Jones, Charles Leavitt and Chris Metzen. It is based on the Warcraft video game series and novels set in the world of Azeroth. The film stars Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, Ben Schnetzer, Robert Kazinsky and Daniel Wu. The film portrays the initial encounters between the humans and the orcs and takes place in a variety of locations established in the video game series. The film was first announced in 2006 as a project partnership between Legendary Pictures and the game's developer, Blizzard Entertainment.
Warcraft premiered in Paris on May 24, 2016, and was released by Universal Pictures in the United States on June 10, 2016. Despite receiving negative reviews from critics and a poor domestic box office performance, the film has grossed $433 million worldwide, surpassing Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time as the highest-grossing video game adaptation of all time, although it was still considered a financial disappointment.
Draenor, the homeworld of the orcs, is being torn apart by a mysterious force known as fel magic. Gul'dan, a powerful orc warlock, unites the orc clans and forms the Horde, and creates a portal to the world of Azeroth. The orcs begin to use fel magic to drain the life out of captive draenei in order to sustain the portal. Once it is operational, Gul'dan leads a small warband to capture prisoners on Azeroth and sacrifice them to bring the rest of the Horde through the portal. Despite their doubts, Durotan, the chieftain of the Frostwolf Clan, his pregnant mate Draka, and his friend Orgrim Doomhammer join this initial warband. While crossing through the portal, Draka goes into labor. When the orcs arrive on Azeroth, Gul'dan assists Draka with giving birth, but the baby is stillborn. Gul'dan then drains the life out of a nearby deer to revive and infuse fel magic into the baby, which Durotan later names Go'el.
The orcs raid several settlements throughout Azeroth. Anduin Lothar, the military commander of the human forces in the Stormwind Kingdom, looks over some of the men that were killed, and finds a trespassing mage named Khadgar, who explains that he was investigating the dead bodies because they contained traces of fel magic. Khadgar persuades Stormwind's king, Llane Wrynn, to consult Medivh, the renowned Guardian of Tirisfal, and Llane sends Anduin and Khadgar to Medivh's stronghold, Karazhan, to inform him of the fel magic's presence on Azeroth. In the Karazhan library, a ghostly shadow leads Khadgar to a mysterious book, which he takes.
Anduin, Khadgar and Medivh join a scouting team following traces of fel magic, but are ambushed by orcs. Medivh uses a spell to kill the fel-corrupted orcs, leaving the Horde's warchief, Blackhand to flee along with Durotan and Orgrim. Khadgar restrains a half-orc slave, Garona, and the soldiers take her prisoner. King Llane frees Garona in exchange for loyalty to Stormwind, and she leads the humans to spy on the orc camp, where they learn of Gul'dan's plan to bring the Horde to Azeroth. Meanwhile, Durotan realizes that the fel magic is responsible for the destruction of Draenor, and if Gul'dan is not thwarted, Azeroth will suffer the same fate. Despite Orgrim's objections, Durotan invites Llane to a secret meeting so that the Frostwolf Clan and the humans can unite to defeat Gul'dan. While studying the book he took from Karazhan, Khadgar learns that Gul'dan could not have opened the portal on his own; he had help from someone on Azeroth. He is confronted by Medivh, who burns Khadgar's research when Khadgar offers to help him with his work.
The Frostwolf Clan meets with the humans to negotiate an alliance, but the group is ambushed by Blackhand. As the humans retreat, Medivh forms a magical barrier to protect them, but Lothar's son Callan is separated from the rest of the group and killed by Blackhand. Medivh is severely weakened, and Garona and Khadgar take him back to Karazhan to recover. After noticing Medivh's eyes shine green, showing that he is infected by fel magic, Khadgar returns to his former home, Dalaran, to seek help from the Kirin Tor, the authority of human and high elven mages. The Kirin Tor facilitate a meeting with Alodi, revealed to be the shadow who led Khadgar to the book; she confirms that Medivh has indeed been corrupted by fel magic and possessed by an unknown demon. At the orc camp, Blackhand purges the Frostwolf Clan. Orgrim helps Draka to escape, and she sends Go'el down a river in a basket, but is then found and killed by another orc. Durotan challenges Gul'dan to Mak'gora, a traditional orcish duel to the death for leadership of a clan – in this case, all of the orcs. During the fight, Gul'dan violates the honorable combat rules by draining the life out of Durotan with his magic, killing him and earning the disapproval of the orcs watching, and he empowers Blackhand with the same magic. Medivh, now in a half-demonic state, starts to open the portal to Draenor, and Gul'dan begins sacrificing the captured human villagers to allow the rest of the Horde to enter Azeroth.
Llane leads the human army in an assault on the orc camp, while Anduin and Khadgar fight Medivh and destroy the demon that had begun to manifest on the outside. Medivh is left mortally wounded, and uses the last of his strength to close the portal to Draenor and instead open a portal to Stormwind, allowing Llane to evacuate most of the freed prisoners. When Medivh eventually dies, the portal closes, leaving Llane, Garona and a small number of human soldiers to fight the orcs. Llane secretly orders Garona to kill him, bringing her honor among the orcs and putting her in a position of power to bring peace between the two races. Garona reluctantly does so, and is welcomed into the Horde by Gul'dan. As the orcs celebrate, Anduin arrives to retrieve King Llane's body and discovers Garona's knife in the body, realizing that it was she who had killed their king. Blackhand challenges Anduin to Mak'gora, and Anduin quickly disposes of him. Against Gul'dan's demands, the orcs, bound by tradition, allow Anduin to depart with Llane's body. At Llane's funeral in Stormwind, the leaders of the other human nations, along with the high elves and dwarves, proclaim an alliance against the orcs and rally behind Anduin as the leader of the Alliance forces. Elsewhere, Orgrim takes one of Durotan's tusks to one day give to Go'el, and the basket containing Go'el is found by a human.
- Travis Fimmel as Sir Anduin Lothar, the military commander of the human forces in Stormwind Kingdom. Steadfast and charismatic, Anduin is a knight who has sacrificed everything to keep the king and his people safe.
- Paula Patton as Garona Halforcen, a strong-willed half-orc survivor caught between the Alliance and the Horde.
- Ben Foster as Medivh, the current Guardian of Tirisfal and a mysterious and reclusive protector who wields formidable magical power.
- Dominic Cooper as King Llane Wrynn, ruler of the Stormwind Kingdom and a beacon of hope for his people in times of darkness.
- Toby Kebbell as Durotan, the father of Go'el and the noble orc chieftain of the Frostwolf Clan battling to save his exiled clan and the rest of the renegade orcs from Gul'dan and the destruction of their world. Kebbell also portrays Antonidas, leader of Kirin Tor.
- Ben Schnetzer as Khadgar, a gifted young mage who was trained at a young age by the Kirin Tor to succeed Medivh as Guardian, but left and eventually found his place in the Stormwind Kingdom.
- Robert Kazinsky as Orgrim Doomhammer, Durotan's best friend and right-hand man who later leads the survivors of the Frostwolf Clan.
- Clancy Brown as Blackhand, the fearsome orc chieftain of the Blackrock Clan and puppet of Gul'dan who rises to become the first warchief of the Horde.
- Daniel Wu as Gul'dan, a sinister Shadowmoon orc warlock. Wielding powerful fel magic and driven by his ravenous desire for power, he orchestrates the actions of the Horde from behind the scenes.
- Ruth Negga as Lady Taria Wrynn, Queen-consort of Stormwind, King Llane's wife and most trusted counsel, and Anduin's sister.
- Anna Galvin as Draka, Durotan's mate and the mother of Go'el.
- Burkely Duffield as Callan Lothar, son of Anduin and a soldier who follows in his father's footsteps.
- Callum Keith Rennie as Moroes, the castellan who manages Medivh's arcane stronghold of Karazhan.
- Terry Notary as Grommash Hellscream, the orc chieftain of the Warsong Clan. Notary also served as stunt coordinator and movement coach for the film, working with cast members Kebbell, Kazinsky, Brown, Wu and Galvin on their portrayals of the orcs, and with Foster on his portrayals of magic.
- Michael Adamthwaite as King Magni Bronzebeard, the dwarf ruler of Ironforge.
- Dean Redman as Varis
- Ryan Robbins as Karos
Dylan Schombing appears as a young Varian Wrynn, son of Llane and heir to the throne of Stormwind. Mackenzie Gray makes an appearance as a delegate from Lordaeron. Glenn Close makes an uncredited appearance as Alodi, an ancient mage locked in an artifact within Dalaran, described as "the Guardian before there was a Guardian". In the comics, Alodi was the first Guardian of Tirisfal and a male half-elf, while the character in the film is closer to that of Aegwynn, Medivh's mother. Chris Metzen, who served as the writer for the film and is the Senior Vice-President of Story and Franchise Development at Blizzard Entertainment and the voice of Thrall in the Warcraft franchise, makes an uncredited cameo appearance as a turbaned perfume vendor on the streets of Stormwind Kingdom.
The project was officially announced in May 2006 and was originally set to take place in the era of Warcraft: Orcs and Humans. This setting, however, was later dropped, with Blizzard feeling that it would be too similar to The Lord of the Rings. Initially scheduled for a 2009 release, the film was later delayed to 2011. However, by Comicon 2011, the film was announced to still be in the "Treatment stage".
Uwe Boll made a bid to direct, but was turned away by Blizzard, who he claims to have said, "We will not sell the movie rights, not to you… especially not to you. Because it's such a big online game success, maybe a bad movie would destroy that ongoing income, what the company has with it." Sam Raimi was initially attached to direct, but was replaced by Duncan Jones in January 2013. Upon coming aboard, Jones immediately voiced his displeasure at the script, which he stated "was the stale fantasy trope of, humans are the good guys, monsters are the bad guys". With Blizzard's approval (who had also been looking to change the story), Jones altered the story so that "It's 50-50." Jones also faced personal struggles during filming, as his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer soon after Jones took over, and his father, David Bowie, died from cancer late in production. Jones thus summed up the challenge by telling The New York Times, "My film started and ended with cancer." At San Diego Comic-Con International in July 2013, a concept trailer was presented, featuring a battle between a human and an orc.
On September 23, 2013, it was reported that actors Paul Dano, Travis Fimmel, Anson Mount, and Anton Yelchin were on the shortlist to star in the film. In October 2013, Fimmel was announced to play the lead character. On December 4, 2013, the main cast of the film, consisting of Fimmel, Ben Foster, Paula Patton, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell and Robert Kazinsky, was announced. On December 14, 2013, Universal added Daniel Wu and Clancy Brown to the cast. In early March 2014, newcomer Burkely Duffield joined the cast. Many of the casting announcements were made at a panel presentation during BlizzCon 2014.
Principal photography began on January 13, 2014, and lasted for four months, finishing on May 23, 2014. Filming took place primarily in Vancouver, among other locations. Post-production lasted twenty months. Regarding the use of computer-generated imagery, Jones said, "It's a tool like any other. It can be done well and it can be done shit. The best CGI has you forgetting [that] it's CGI, and accepting the visual as whatever it is supposed to be—like props. No one has an issue with props in film, do they?" Cinematographer Simon Duggan said the film had a 12 weeks prep period.
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Warcraft was initially scheduled to be released on December 18, 2015, but following the announcement of the coinciding release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the release was pushed back to the following year. The film premiered at the Le Grand Rex in Paris on May 24, 2016. It was released in the United Kingdom on May 30, 2016, in the United States on June 10, 2016 and in Australia on June 16, 2016, ten years after the project was first announced.
Warcraft was released on digital download on September 13, 2016, and was released on Blu-ray, Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D and DVD on September 22, 2016 in Australia and will be released on September 27 in the United States and Canada. Select editions of the physical release include a digital copy of World of Warcraft along with digital bonus codes for other Blizzard games to tie-in with the film.
As of July 28, 2016[update], Warcraft has grossed $47.2 million in North America and $386.3 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $433.5 million. Given its $160 million budget, The Hollywood Reporter reported the film needs to earn at least $450 million to break-even. Worldwide, it is the highest-grossing film of all time based on a video game (breaking Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time's record). It is the first (and only) video game film to cross $400 million in ticket sales globally. The film joined Terminator Genisys as the only American films to earn $400 million worldwide without also crossing $100 million in North America, and also the only Hollywood releases to earn $100 million in China without making $100 million in the United States.
In the United States and Canada, Warcraft opened on June 10, 2016, alongside The Conjuring 2 and Now You See Me 2, and was projected to gross around $25 million in its opening weekend. Variety reported that the film was generating only moderate interest among U.S. moviegoers, which could possibly hurt its box office performance stateside, with poor reviews and competition from the aforementioned films and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (released the week prior) also affecting its performance. The film grossed $3.1 million from 2,632 theaters in its Thursday night previews and $10.7 million on its first day. It went on to gross $24.2 million, finishing second at the box office behind The Conjuring 2 ($40.1 million). It fell by 70% on its second weekend, earning $7.2 million,.
Outside North America
Warcraft was released in a total of 65 countries from June to August 2016, and international territories are expected to produce better results than in North America. It opened across 20 countries in the week ending May 29, 2016, including France, Germany and Russia, two weeks ahead of its North American debut, and was estimated to gross around $20 million in its opening weekend. Internationally, it faced and will face competition from Alice Through the Looking Glass, X-Men: Apocalypse, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, The Conjuring 2, Finding Dory, as well as the UEFA Euro 2016 in most European countries throughout its run. It opened on Thursday, May 26, earning $9.3 million from 11 markets. On Friday, May 27, the total rose to $16.3 million. In its opening weekend, it grossed $31.7 million from 20 markets, of which $2.1 million alone came from 73 IMAX screens. In its second weekend, it added $29.5 million from 28 markets, with $1.8 million delivered from 130 IMAX screens. It finally topped the international box office in its third weekend with $185.8 million, propelled by a huge opening in China.
It scored the biggest opening day of all time in Ukraine ($233,000), the biggest of 2016 in Germany ($2.2 million), the second biggest in Russia ($2.8 million), behind Deadpool, and Universal's third biggest opening day ever in Sweden ($539,000), behind only Fifty Shades of Grey and Furious 7. In terms of opening weekend, it opened with $10.4 million in Russia, giving it the second biggest debut of 2016 behind Deadpool, and occupied 63% of the market share. It earned $5.8 million in Germany, $4.4 million in France, $3.4 million in Mexico, $2.8 million in Brazil, $2.7 million in Taiwan, $2.5 million in Spain and Australia, and $2 million in Italy and in Turkey, it recorded the biggest opening weekend ever for Universal with a $1.1 million debut and the fourth-biggest in Sweden, with $1.3 million. In the United Kingdom, it came in first place with a £3.62 million ($5.27 million) seven-day opening after a close race with Out of the Shadows from 500 theaters. In South Korea, it finished in second place with $5.1 million, behind The Jungle Book, which also opened the same weekend.
In China, based on pre-sales, Warcraft was one of the country's most anticipated films of all time, and is projected to gross around $100–150 million to as high as $200 million during its five-day opening weekend. It received the widest Chinese release ever, occupying an unprecedented 67.5% of the screens available in China, besting the previous record of Furious 7's 62.8% of screens. It pre-sold $2 million worth of tickets twelve days before its premiere on June 8, which rose to a staggering $20.7 million by June 6, the third biggest of all-time, behind Furious 7 and Avengers: Age of Ultron. It broke the IMAX pre-sales record with $8.2 million for the opening weekend, breaking Captain America: Civil War's $3.7 million, set a month prior. However, the film is set to face competition from X-Men: Apocalypse, which opened on June 3, five days before its debut. It began its theatrical run on Tuesday midnight, June 7 with across 285 IMAX screens, taking advantage of the Dragon Boat Festival holiday, where it grossed $7.6 million. It opened on June 8, earning $46 million on its opening day to record the second biggest opening day for a Hollywood film, behind Furious 7. It did however break the biggest non-weekend opening day record, besting the previous record holder Avengers: Age of Ultron ($28.3 million), the biggest IMAX midnight run ($1.4 million), and the biggest IMAX opening day gross ($5.3–6 million). On its second day, it added $44.5–46.5 million, breaking the record for the biggest Thursday gross, previously held by The Mermaid, and the biggest two-day gross for a Hollywood film. Through its opening weekend, it earned $156 million in five days – $64.5 million in three days – setting records for the biggest opening weekend of all time in the country, eclipsing the previous record held by Avengers: Age of Ultron, and the fastest film to gross 1 billion renminbi in 117 hours, eclipsing Furious 7's 120 hours previous record. Moreover, it broke IMAX record for the biggest Friday ($4.2 million), the fastest three-day gross ($15.2 million) and the biggest opening weekend ($20 million). Gamers of the video game made up a 85% of the total attendees during its opening weekend[not in citation given] It has so far grossed a total of $27.5 million in IMAX ticket sales, the third highest for a Hollywood film in the country, and $221 million there.
The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 28%, based on 187 reviews, with an average rating of 4.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Warcraft has visual thrills to spare, but they – and director Duncan Jones' distinctive gifts – are wasted on a sluggish and derivative adaptation of a bestselling game with little evident cinematic value." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 32 out of 100, based on 40 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". However, audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.
Geoff Berkshire of Variety criticized the film's attempts at adapting a source material with "inherent ridiculousness" in regards to how the original game series was not meant to have a very deep narrative: "[I]t's an unwaveringly earnest film that never owns up to exactly how campy every character, every conflict and every new realm truly is." A.A. Dowd of The A.V. Club wrote that, "To watch Warcraft is never to be transported, but to wade through a thick morass of mythology, exposition, gaudy light-show effects, half-assed character development, and formulaic franchise groundwork," while describing director/cowriter Duncan Jones as "a talented sci-fi fabulist who’s fallen screaming into the same CGI abyss that consumed Peter Jackson during his unfortunate Hobbit cycle." Helen O'Hara, reviewing for the UK-based GQ Magazine, stated that although the film itself is a "strong adaptation" of Warcraft, the script diminishes the film's impact: "The problem is that it just can't escape those cod-fantasy roots. There are too many mysterious proper nouns being thrown into conversation and at least 12 major characters competing for space … [W]e're zipping from one to another here so quickly that they only have time for the most portentous, and sometimes clichéd, dialogue."
Dave Robinson of Crash Landed, however, praised the film's depiction of the Orc race and the motion capture performances by the actors.
With the film's storyline leaving Warcraft open to possible sequels, Jones has expressed interest in a sequel to the film, likely to be adapted from Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness, the second video game in the Warcraft franchise.
At an Investor Day presentation on November 6, 2015, in the wake of the Warcraft feature film, Activision Blizzard announced the formation of Activision Blizzard Studios, a film production division dedicated to creating original television series and films. If a sequel to Warcraft would be made, Activision Blizzard Studios would likely co-finance with Legendary and as more China-centric.
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