At the Shanghai International Film Festival, Jackie Chan spoke in front of a large crowd, extolling the power of the Chinese film market. Chan specifically praised Warcraft’s success saying the film “made 600 million RMB ($91 million) in two days this has scared the Americans[.]”
Chan – whether he realizes it or not – is referencing a discussion that many film analysts have been having in recent years. With the largest movie-going population in the world, China is quickly emerging as a market powerhouse. Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda recently purchased Warcraft studio, Legendary Pictures in January for $35 billion. It’s no coincidence that the studio was also behind Pacific Rim, a film that did much better in China than it did in North America. Pacific Rim 2’s development is even credited to the first film’s success in Chinese market, suggesting that the fate of big franchises could become dependent on how the Chinese film market reacts.
Jackie Chan seems to acknowledge the power Chinese filmgoers has over global cinema, going on to say, “If [Chinese studios] make a film that earns [$1.5 billion], then people from all over the world who study film will learn Chinese instead of us learning English[.]” At the rate the Chinese box office is growing, estimated at 30 percent annually, a $1.5 billion domestic gross is conceivable to many film market analysts.
“It is you, not us who make China powerful,’ Chan reportedly told the predominantly Chinese crowd at the festival. In recent years, studios like Disney and Marvel have incorporated Chinese characters, or actors into their films to appeal to Chinese audiences, acknowledging the country’s role in making their films global hits. Warcraft seems to be the first sign that there is a seismic shift happening in cinema, with the paradigm shifting away from Western audiences towards China.