What is “Wolf Warrior 2”?
Quick! Name the top five movies of the year worldwide! You’ve got “Wonder Woman”, “The Fate of the Furious”, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”, “Spider-Man: Homecoming”, and “Beauty and the Beast.” Right? All those movies may be some of the highest earners this year so far, but there’s one movie beating some of those that you definitely haven’t heard of. Yes, it’s “Wolf Warrior 2.” So why is this patriotic action movie from China worth talking about? Let’s find out.
So far this year, we’ve seen a lot of movies, like “Kong: Skull Island” and “Get Out”, that were better than we thought they had any right to be. We’ve seen movies that we never counted on, like “Dunkirk” and “It”, demolish the box office. But one thing some of us noticed that we’ve never seen the like of before is a non-Hollywood production beating almost every single one.
Take a trip over to Box Office Mojo and you’ll see that the Chinese sequel is the fifth highest-grossing movie of the year so far at $870 million. That’s more than Diana Prince, Baby Groot, Jack Sparrow, Pennywise, Wolverine, Optimus Prime, King Kong, and Christopher Nolan made this year.
So how did this movie, released mainly in its home country, make so much money? Because China is a huge reason why any movie makes a lot of money to begin with. Financial success in China is the reason why some studios have been, or still are, groaning about whether or not they should franchise flop movies like “Terminator Genisys”, “Warcraft”, and “Need for Speed.” Similarly, movies like “Furious 7”, and “Transformers: Age of Extinction” crossed that magical 1 billion dollar mark at the worldwide box office because of China.
For some familiar and more recent context, China is the reason why “Spider-Man: Homecoming” made approximately $58 million more worldwide than “Wonder Woman”, despite the latter earning approximately $80 million more on this continent.
So, what kind of movies does China like, then? That’s a great question that, as an American, I’m not overly-qualified to rightfully answer. The only thing I can say for certain is that they love American movie stars. Tom Cruise, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Wahlberg, Vin Diesel, and Arnold Schwarzenegger are hefty reasons why “The Mummy” reboot, “Spider-Man: Homecoming”, the last two Transformers movies, the Fast and Furious franchise, and the last Terminator movie made buckets of money in China, while possibly flopping statewide.
What about “Wolf Warrior 1”? If we take a look at it, we can see that, despite fairly-similar patriotisms and good reviews, it didn’t even cross $100 million worldwide, while that sequel blew up the box office. What’s up with that? My best guess is a mix between rule number two and the general “audiences aren’t sure/interested about this new intellectual property” thing. But this isn’t a new phenomenon. “Batman Begins” only made $374 million, while sequel “The Dark Knight” achieved billion-dollar status. So, it could have also been the good-to-great word of mouth.
There you go. That’s why “Wolf Warrior 2” is worth taking a look at, and that’s why China is important to the movie industry. For years, one specific part of one specific city in our country has basically monopolized the film industry, and it’s great to see a movie from somewhere else take lead. Whether or not future foreign films will conquer the box office is yet to be seen. But hopefully more foreign films can take the lead, and hopefully non-English-language films can become a more regular occurrence at the multiplexes or Netflix in America and elsewhere.