Activision Blizzard has announced that Sam Raimi will direct a film based on the hugely popular World of Warcraft online role playing video game. Raimi will be directing his fourth Spider-man film first, so don’t expect WoW on the big screen until 2012 or 2013. But this announcement is a big deal. Why? All one has to do is looking at the history and numbers behind the online role-playing juggernaut.
* World of Warcraft attracts 11.5 million subscribers per month, each paying a $15 subscription fee (on top of the $50 game).
* On January 16, 2007 the first expansion–a kind of sequel–for WoW was released for $40. The Burning Crusade sold 2.4 million copies by the time it was released, a record for a PC game.
* On November, 13, 2008 the second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, was released for $40. It sold 2.8 million copies day one, breaking the record of the previous expansion.
* World of Warcraft: ~10 million units sold.
* Subscriptions: ~12 million.
* World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade: ~5 million units sold.
* World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King: ~5 million units sold.
* Revenue: Over $1 billion in 2008.
So what does that mean for the WoW film? Let’s assume a budget of over $100 million to make the movie. If 10 million people buy tickets see their favorite game brought to life, the film would gross over $400 million worldwide. Add merchandise, a well-timed expansion, and home video sales, the total global revenue could reach $1 billion.
Of course, no other game-to-movie adaptation has done nearly that well. The closest would be 2001’s Tomb Raider–which is the most successful video game adaptation to date—with $274 million in total box office receipts worldwide.