‘Godzilla x Kong’ exceeds expectations with $80 million debut

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“Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” topped the box office charts, grossing a better-than-expected $80 million in 3,861 North American theaters in its debut.

Heading into the weekend, the monster mashup was projected to earn between $50 and $55 million to start. But “Godzilla x Kong,” in which two otherworldly beasts team up to save the planet, surpassed those projections after benefiting from several factors, including large premium formats (which account for 48% of ticket sales) and the enthusiasm of the audience (it earned an “A-”CinemaScore”). Critics were less impressed with “The New Empire,” starring Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry and Dan Stevens and directed by Adam Wingard (“Godzilla vs. Kong”). It has a 55% “rotten” average on Rotten Tomatoes.

It’s the second-biggest debut for Warner Bros. and Legendary’s MonsterVerse, following 2014’s “Godzilla” ($93 million), but ahead of 2017’s “Kong: Skull Island” ($61 million), “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” ” from 2019 ($47.7 million). ) and “Godzilla vs. Kong” from 2021 ($31 million on HBO Max). “Godzilla x Kong” also posted the second-biggest domestic opening weekend of the year, just behind another Warner Bros. and Legendary hit, “Dune: Part Two: ($82.5 million).

The “Godzilla” and “Kong” movies tend to be especially successful at the international box office, and “The New Empire” is no different. It far exceeded expectations with $114 million from 64 overseas territories, bringing its worldwide total to a staggering $194 million. After three days of release, it is already the third highest-grossing film of the year after “Dune: Part Two” ($626 million after five weeks of release) and “Kung Fu Panda 4” ($347 million after four weeks of release). . “The New Empire” has a production budget of $135 million, so it needs to resonate with ticket buyers around the world.

The one-two punch of “Godzilla x Kong” and “Dune 2” is helping to offset the dearth of new releases in January and February. A few weeks ago, box office revenue was 20% behind the same point in 2023. But now, ticket sales are down just 6.3%, according to Comscore.

“Every movie counts, and the importance of each movie’s performance carries a lot of weight in terms of moving the needle,” says Comscore senior analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “The combination of ‘Dune,’ ‘Kung Fu Panda,’ ‘Ghostbusters’ and now ‘Godzilla’ has demonstrated the power of a few key releases to turn the tide at the box office in a relatively short period of time.”

Elsewhere at the box office, “Godzilla x Kong” took a sizable chunk of business from Sony’s “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire,” which targets a similar demographic (and also happens to have the word “Empire” in the title ). The supernatural comedy came in a distant second with $15.7 million from 4,345 theaters, a sharp drop of 65% since its debut. After two weeks of release, “Ghostbusters” has generated $73.4 million at the domestic box office and $108.5 million worldwide. It cost $100 million, not including considerable marketing expenses. With theaters taking half of ticket sales, “Frozen Empire” requires serious staying power at the box office to justify the studio’s return to the ghost-hunting business.

“Kung Fu Panda 4” from Universal and DreamWorks Animation remained in third place with $10 million in 3,582 theaters. So far, the animated family film has grossed $151 million in North America and more than $347 million worldwide. Given its $85 million production budget, “Kung Fu Panda 4” is well positioned in its theatrical run.

“Dune: Part Two” fell to No. 4 in its fifth weekend on the big screen. The sci-fi epic has grossed $9.85 million over the weekend and $251 million domestically to date. It is currently the highest-grossing film of the year with $626 million worldwide.

Sydney Sweeney’s religious horror film “Immaculate” rounded out the top five with $3.2 million from 2,362 locations, down 41% from the previous weekend. Neon is backing the film, which has grossed $11.1 million after two weeks in theaters.

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