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Jackie Chan Thinks Warcraft's Success In China Scares Americans

Duncan Jones' adaptation of the wildly popular Warcraft video game series is currently sitting at a sad but not entirely unexpected 27% on Rotten Tomatoes. So it's no surprise that the film's U.S. grosses on its opening weekend were a nightmare for Legendary Pictures, taking in a measly $24 million against a budget of roughly $160 million.

But then China swooped in to save the day to single-handedly give Warcraft a $156 million opening weekend, on top of the U.S. totals. This was more than enough evidence for Jackie Chan—yes, the Jackie Chan—to take the stage at his Jackie Chan Acton Movie Week during the Shanghai International Film Festival to claim that Warcraft's success scares Americans.

"Warcraft made 600 million RMB [$91 million] in two days—this has scared the Americans," the Hollywood Reporter quotes Chan as saying. "If we can make a film that earns 10 billion [$1.5 billion], then people from all over the world who study film will learn Chinese, instead of us learning English."

The underlying message here is of China's recent string of box office success, including it's reigning all-time box office draw, Stephen Chow's 2016 sci-fi romantic comedy The Mermaid, which has made $3.3 billion to date. If China's film industry continues to grow, by 2017 it will become the world's largest theatrical market, lending credence to Chan's claims. But his theory fails to take one fact into consideration: while many of America's bigger blockbusters are being sequelized into oblivion by China's insatiable franchise hunger (coughTransformerscough), the western film market—fueled by Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and HBOGo/Now—is abandoning the traditional theater-going experience (and the box office tallies that come with it) in favor of staying in and catching a flick in the comfort of their own underwear.

Chan isn't wrong about China's meteoric rise, and there are likely even better days ahead. But within ten or 15 years, the box office could take a major beating from the comforts of home and the convenience of hi-def streaming.