The 2016 Warcraft movie from director Duncan Jones made more than $433 million worldwide, but despite that huge box office number, it appears the sequels that Jones wanted to make are not going to happen–and there are a number of reasons why that is.
Jones told Collider that he would have “loved” to make two more movies to complete the trilogy, but it’s looking unlikely that the follow-ups will be made. Despite that, Jones said he thinks Warcraft is being appreciated more and more now, as time goes on.
“It really would have been pretty special,” he said of his plans for a trilogy. “It’s unfortunate now, you gotta try and go with your harp on these things. I made the film as best I could on the first film hoping that it would connect with an audience. I genuinely think that in retrospect and as time has moved on, people are starting to appreciate the film than maybe the critics did when it first came out but unfortunately I don’t think we’re going to get to make any more.”
Jones said this three-film arc for Warcraft would have included further storytelling for Gul’dan and Thrall, and on a wider level, how the orcs left their home world to live in Azeroth.
Also in the interview, Jones spoke about the challenging nature of working with so many different stakeholders to get Warcraft made.
“It was an absolute… The essence of studio filmmaking,” he said. “I got a chance to experience multiple studios takes on what a film of this size should be on one movie because it was originally. Originally, we were Warner Brothers, I was working with Atlas, I was working with Universal. It was working with Legendary, I was working with Blizzard and obviously Blizzard were very passionate about what film should be because they are who had been with the game for so long and they didn’t want to detract from that. So there were more points as to what the film needed to be. And then Legendary was bought by Wanda while we were making the movie. So it was a unique moment in time for experiencing what kind of craziness studio filmmaking could be.”
Warcraft only made $47.4 million in the US and Canada, but it made $386.3 million–or 89.1 percent of its total box office revenue–from overseas markets. China accounted for a massive $213.5 million of the movie’s international grosses. On a worldwide basis, Warcraft is the 258th biggest movie ever, ahead of Detective Pikachu and numerous other franchise movies.
Warcraft had a reported budget of $160 million, so $433 million in worldwide grosses sounds like a success story. However, as ScreenRant points out, Hollywood studios only make about 25 percent of a film’s gross in China, so Warcraft’s $213.5 million in China netted Legendary only $53.4 million. In America, a film studio typically takes home around 50 percent off the box office. Using that math, ScreenRant estimates that Warcraft actually only made $145 million, which is below its reported production budget; and this number doesn’t even count marketing expenses. Looking at the numbers through that light, it’s not hard to understand why the Warcraft sequels aren’t coming.
Warcraft stars Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, Robert Kazinsky, Clancy Brown, and Daniel Wu.
As for Jones, he went on to release the low-budget sci-fi movie Mute for Netflix in 2018. It is in the same universe as his 2009 breakout hit Moon starring Sam Rockwell. Jones had said he had plans for a third movie in that connected universe, but for now, it’s only a graphic novel. “
“It’s going to be a tricky one to finance in this era where original material on a bigger budget is difficult to get made, so I definitely want to do the graphic novel so at least it will exist in some form,” he told Polygon. “Then, hopefully, if people read the graphic novel and get really excited about it, I’m gonna try and use that as a way to leverage getting the movie made.”