‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ stomps to pandemic-best $48.5M opening

‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ stomps to pandemic-best $48.5M opening

NEW YORK — With the help of a few old friends, the box office rekindled some of its old might over the weekend. “Godzilla vs. Kong” scored easily the best opening of the pandemic with an estimated $48.5 million since opening Wednesday, even as it was simultaneously streaming at home.

The monster mash, from Warner Bros. and Legendary Entertainment, was the widest domestic release in the past year, playing in more than 3,000 theatres. Many theatres have been reopening over the past few weeks; about 60% of theatres were open this weekend, according to data firm Comscore. Most are operating at 50% capacity or less.

“Godzilla vs. Kong” stomped to $32.2 million from Friday to Sunday, according to studio estimates Sunday. The five-day total far exceeded expectations, and even outpaced the three-day debut ($47.8 million) of the franchise’s last entry, 2019’s “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” Globally, “Godzilla vs. Kong” grossed $120.1 million over the weekend, bringing its two-week worldwide total to $285.4 million.

Made for approximately $160 million, “Godzilla vs. Kong” is one of a small handful of big-budget movies to open in theatres. WarnerMedia, which owns Warner Bros. and HBO Max, hedged its bet, though, by streaming the film to subscribers in North America at the same time — a strategy it’s pursuing for all 2021 releases.

The studio didn’t offer viewing data Sunday but said “Godzilla vs. Kong” had a larger audience on HBO Max than any film or TV show since the service’s launch in 2020.

But clearly the clash of two of the movies’ most iconic big guys was enough to drive more people — whether they have HBO Max accounts or not — to the big screen more than anything else over the past the year. After a punishing year for theatres, it’s one of the most promising signs in ages that moviegoing can be revived after a punishing pandemic year.

David A. Gross, who runs the movie consultancy FranchiseRe, estimated that “Godzilla vs. Kong” would have debuted with a $50 million three-day weekend and $500 million worldwide if not for the pandemic.

“While it’s half of what it would be under normal circumstances, the weekend is a clear and positive indication that moviegoing has inherent strengths that aren’t going away, including going out for the group experience; the big screen quality; and the value for cost,” Gross said.

“Godzilla vs. Kong” had already launched with $123.1 million internationally last weekend, led by especially strong ticket sales in China. There, it opened with $70 million, surpassing the performance of previous entries in the franchise. This weekend, it added another $44 million, Legendary said.

“Moviegoers have been waiting for an event film like ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ to arrive on the big screen and the numbers don’t lie — it’s clear that wherever audiences are ready to safely return to the theatre, they have, and we’re thrilled with the results,” Jeff Goldstein, distribution chief for Warner Bros., said in a statement.

A new series of movies was restarted in 2014 with “Godzilla,” followed by 2017’s “Kong: Skull Island” and 2019’s “Godzilla: King of Monsters.” Returns have been steadily diminishing. The previous three films opened domestically with $200.7 million, $168.1 million and $47.8 million, respectively. But the franchise had been leading up to the prize fight of “Godzilla vs. Kong.” Directed by Adam Wingard, its human co-stars include Alexander Skarsgård, Brian Tyree Henry and Rebecca Hall.

The pandemic high had belonged to “Wonder Woman 1984,” which launched with $16.7 million in December. The previous best opening of 2021 in North America was “Tom & Jerry,” with $13.7 million in late February. That gives Warner Bros. the top three movies of the last year, all distributed in a hybrid release plan in both theatres and on HBO Max for a 30-day period.

Theater owners seized on the film’s performance as proof that moviegoers are ready to return to theatres, and Hollywood should release more of the big-budget films it has withheld during the pandemic. In the past month, theatres reopened in the U.S.’s two largest markets — New York and Los Angeles — which were both the top markets for “Godzilla vs. Kong.” Also driving sales were private or “pod” bookings of an entire theatre, of which the Warner Bros. release had more than 10,000.

The film drew mostly younger moviegoers. According to the studio, 72% were under the age of 35. “Godzilla vs. Kong,” which has received mostly positive reviews from critics, scored an “A” CinemaScore from audiences.

___

Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

Jake Coyle, The Associated Press

Movies

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

House sales remain hot in central Alberta with first-quarter sales nearly double last year’s numbers. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Central Alberta real estate market hot in 2021

Residential sales nearly double 2020 in first quarter

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer gave an update on Olymel's COVID-19 situation on Wednesday. (File photo by Advocate staff).
Veer addresses rising COVID-19 cases in Red Deer

Red Deer has added nearly 200 cases of active COVID-19 cases in past week

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Premier Jason Kenney say the province would look at adding additional COVID-19 measures in the coming weeks if the virus continues to spread. (Photo by Government of Alberta)
Walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic to open in Red Deer

Alberta adds 1,345 new cases of the virus

Innisfail RCMP are investigating a single-vehicle crash that happened west of Bowden on March 21, 2021. (File photo by Advocate staff)
RCMP investigate culturally insensitive graffiti at Sylvan Lake school

Sylvan Lake RCMP is investigating a vandalism incident. On April 17 around… Continue reading

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

Vancouver Canucks' Tanner Pearson, right, celebrates after scoring against Toronto Maple Leafs goalie David Rittich during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Pearson, Sutter each score twice as Canucks dump Leafs 6-3

Pearson, Sutter each score twice as Canucks dump Leafs 6-3

Everton's Gylfi Sigurdsson celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's second goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Everton and Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park in Liverpool, England, Friday, April 16, 2021. (Peter Powell/Pool via AP)
Super League collapses after the 6 English clubs withdraw

Super League collapses after the 6 English clubs withdraw

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez delivers against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at Fenway Park in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Bogaerts’ 3-run HR, Rodriguez lift BoSox over Blue Jays 4-2

Bogaerts’ 3-run HR, Rodriguez lift BoSox over Blue Jays 4-2

Pound says Olympic qualifying issues a concern to IOC

Pound says Olympic qualifying issues a concern to IOC

Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Rowing Canada sanctions former head coach of B.C. varsity women’s team

Rowing Canada sanctions former head coach of B.C. varsity women’s team

Ontario Hockey League cancels 2020-21 season as COVID-19 cases surge in province

Ontario Hockey League cancels 2020-21 season as COVID-19 cases surge in province

Lionel Desmond (front row, far right) was part of the 2nd battalion, of the Royal Canadian Regiment, based at CFB Gagetown and shown in this 2007 handout photo taken in Panjwai district in between patrol base Wilson and Masum Ghar in Afghanistan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Facebook-Trev Bungay MANDATORY CREDIT
Desmond inquiry: Veterans Affairs submits internal review after initial refusal

Desmond inquiry: Veterans Affairs submits internal review after initial refusal

FILE - In this Feb. 18, 2021 file photo State representatives gather at the Capitol, in Phoenix. Two years after Arizona lawmakers repealed a law barring any instruction on HIV or AIDS that that "promotes a homosexual lifestyle," they are close to enacting a broad remake of the state's sex education laws with a particular focus on LGBTQ issues. (AP Photo/Matt York,File)
Arizona governor vetoes strict sex education legislation

Arizona governor vetoes strict sex education legislation

Most Read