Actors Daniel Wu and Paula Patton joined director Duncan Jones in Beijing this week for a series of events aimed at drumming up interest in their upcoming film Warcraft: The Beginning.
The trio’s promotional junket has seen them attend a media pre-screening of the film, a QA session at the prestigious Beijing Film Academy, and an exhibition of the film’s props and costumes in a trendy shopping mall.
The promotional onslaught may not even be necessary as the film, produced by Legendary Entertainment and distributed by Universal Pictures, is fast becoming one of China’s most anticipated movies of all time.
(Daniel Wu and Paula Patton via Wu’s Instagram)
Internet presales for the CGI-heavy live-action adaptation of the enormously popular video game have already surpassed RMB 22 million (approximately U.S.$3.3 million), according to local reports.
Those figures are putting the film on track to challenge Furious 7, which currently holds the all-time presales record for a Hollywood movie with more than $8 million.
Less-than-stellar reviews haven’t blunted the high level of anticipation in China where the game is hugely popular. It’s estimated that up to a third of all World Of Warcraft players are based in the middle kingdom.
China is emerging as the biggest market for video games. The country’s video games industry is estimated to be worth $24.4 billion this year, making it the biggest market for game publishers, according to research firm Newzoo.
Warcraft stars Paula Patton and Daniel Wu gave a QA session at the Beijing Film Academy on Wednesday to a packed out audience.
“Just finished our QA at the prestigious Beijing Film Academy. It was awesome to share our experiences with all those students. They are the future of Chinese film. Jia You!” Wu posted on Instagram.
On Thursday, the actors joined director Duncan Jones, who previously directed the compelling sci-fi films Moon and Source Code, at the Tai Koo Li shopping mall in Beijing’s Sanlitun shopping district where an exhibition featuring concept art, props, and costumes from the film is being held.
Warcraft was produced by Legendary Pictures—bought for for $3.5 billion by real estate giant Dalian Wanda in January—and backed by equity investments from the state-run China Film Group, the privately-run Huayi Brothers, and Internet giant Tencent.
Peter Loehr, CEO of Legendary Pictures’ China arm, Legendary East, told local media that of all the foreign films released in China, this one probably has the biggest ever marketing push behind it.
“There’s several hundred million renminbi worth of marketing behind this movie. Previous movies wouldn’t have got even a quarter of that” he told PingWest.
The investment from China Film Group in particular gives the film a huge advantage in terms of release dates, cinema bookings and marketing.
The film was allotted a highly favorable release date usually reserved for domestic films on June 8, the eve of the Dragon Boat holiday long weekend.
Strong box office result could be a boon for local movie site Mtime which has secured the rights to produce and sell merchandise related to the film including action figures, key-rings and mobile phone shells.