‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ earned $48 million at the US box office over the weekend, the best opening during the pandemic

godzilla vs kong
“Godzilla vs. Kong”

  • “Godzilla vs. Kong” earned $48.5 million in its five-day opening weekend at the US box office.
  • It’s the best opening yet for a movie at the domestic box office during the year-long pandemic.
  • It signals hope for movie theaters, though the industry still has a long road to recovery.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

“Godzilla vs. Kong” beat the odds over the weekend at the box office.

The new monster movie from Warner Bros. earned $48.5 million at the US box office in its first five days (it opened in theaters on Wednesday), and $32.2 million over the three-day Easter weekend from 3,064 theaters.

It’s the best domestic opening yet for a movie during the coronavirus pandemic, which has devastated the theatrical industry over the past year. The movie grossed $121 million during its international opening last month, which was also a pandemic-best. Its global total is now $285 million.

The movie’s predecessor, “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” earned $47.8 million domestically over its first three-day weekend in 2019. It went on to earn $110.5 million domestically and $386 million worldwide.

It’s more impressive considering that “Godzilla vs. Kong” debuted on WarnerMedia’s streaming service HBO Max for no additional fee to subscribers on the same day it hit theaters in the US, as are all of Warner Bros.’ movies this year.

Theaters across the country are also operating at limited capacity, including in New York City, one of the biggest theatrical markets in the US that finally opened last month after a year of being shut down.

While the numbers would normally be underwhelming for a blockbuster that cost $200 million to produce, “Godzilla vs. Kong’s” strong start signals hope for movie theaters – though they still have a long road to full recovery.

The last pandemic-best domestic opening was Warner Bros.’ “Wonder Woman 1984” in December with $16.7 million. The movie also debuted on HBO Max simultaneously with theaters. While it would ultimately slow at the box office with a $45 million domestic total (and $165 million worldwide), data showed that it boosted HBO Max signups.

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Disney’s ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ disappointed, but the overall weekend box office made experts optimistic about the industry’s recovery

raya and the last dragon
“Raya and the Last Dragon”

  • Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon” earned $8.6 million at the US box office over the weekend.
  • It did not play at Cinemark venues because the chain did not reach a licensing deal with Disney.
  • The total box office was up, giving analysts reason to be optimistic about the theatrical industry.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon” earned $8.6 million at the US box office over the weekend in its debut (and $26 million worldwide), a disappointing total even amid the pandemic for a Disney animated movie – more so considering Warner Bros.’ “Tom and Jerry” earned $14 million the weekend prior.

“There is always a spotlight and high expectations placed on any Disney release, but ‘Raya’ entered a marketplace that already had two PG-rated animated films, ‘Tom & Jerry’ and ‘Croods 2,'” said Paul Dergarabedian, the Comscore senior media analyst.

There’s a couple more factors that could have contributed to the movie’s underwhelming performance. Notably, it didn’t play at Cinemark venues and some other chains because they didn’t reach a licensing deal with Disney (it did play at AMC). The movie played on around 400 fewer screens than “Tom and Jerry” did in its opening weekend.

“In the current operating environment, we are making near-term booking decisions on a discrete, film-by-film basis, focusing on the long-term benefit of exhibitors, studios, and moviegoers,” Cinemark told Deadline. “While we are having conversations with The Walt Disney Company, we have not yet reached agreeable licensing terms for ‘Raya and the Last Dragon.'”

“[Theaters] need Disney a lot more than Disney needs them right now,” said Jeff Bock, the Exhibitor Relations senior media analyst. “Hopefully a deal will be worked out for the sake of theatrical exhibition.”

The movie also debuted on Disney Plus simultaneously with theaters at an additional “Premier Access” $30 fee for subscribers. In contrast, “Tom and Jerry” is available on HBO Max for no additional cost.

“$30 for a family of 4 is still a very good deal for blockbuster entertainment,” Bock said.

We don’t know exactly how “Raya and the Last Dragon” performed on Disney Plus. The first movie Disney utilized the Premier Access strategy with, last year’s live-action “Mulan” remake, performed well enough that Disney promised to experiment with it on other titles. “Raya and the Last Dragon” was No. 4 in Disney Plus’ “trending” category on Monday, behind Marvel’s “WandaVision,” “The Simpsons,” and “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” (though it’s unclear how Disney calculates this list).

Bock said that we’ll know how successful the movie was on Disney Plus if Disney implements a similar strategy with upcoming tentpole releases still slated for theaters, like “Black Widow” and “Cruella.”

But even though the “Raya and the Last Dragon” underperformed, the US box office earned a total of $25 million over the weekend, giving analysts reason to be hopeful for the future of the theatrical industry.

It was down 76% compared to the same weekend last year, Bock said. But when compared to the average of a 90% decrease since theaters reopened in August, it’s a noticeable improvement.

New York City movie theaters reopened on Friday at limited capacity, which likely gave the box office a slight boost.

“The bottom line is that while the film’s debut may not have been as strong as some might have hoped, it was a building block in one of the top-grossing overall weekends since the movie-theater shutdown in mid-March [last year],” Dergarabedian said.

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‘Wonder Woman 1984’ stalled at the China box office with a 92% decline from last week

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Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in “Wonder Woman 1984.”

  • “Wonder Woman 1984” earned $1.5 million at the China box office over the weekend, a 92% decline from its debut in the region. 
  • The Hong Kong action movie “Shock Wave 2” earned $64.5 million in China and the Chinese fantasy movie “Dream of Eternity” grossed $39 million over the weekend.
  • “Wonder Woman 1984” scored a lackluster 7.8 on the Chinese ticketing app Maoyan and a 6.5 from the Chinese social network Douban, suggesting audiences weren’t enthused about the movie. 
  • It fared better in the US over the weekend with $16.7 million, the best opening of the pandemic.
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“Wonder Woman 1984” took a nosedive at the China box office in its second weekend in theaters in the region.

The superhero sequel earned just $1.5 million over the weekend, according to Artisan Gateway, a Chinese film consulting firm. It’s a 92% decline from its debut weekend in China when it earned a disappointing $18 million.

It has grossed $85 million globally so far.

The movie’s debut weekend was a slow one across the board for China, whose theatrical industry has otherwise started to rebound after being hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic (the Chinese box office has even surpassed North America as the world’s biggest this year). The Chinese movie “The Rescue” also fell below projections with $36 million last weekend.

But this weekend was different, as the Hong Kong action movie “Shock Wave 2” earned $64.5 million in China and the Chinese fantasy movie “Dream of Eternity” grossed $39 million. Yet “Wonder Woman 1984” continued to flounder in the region.

READ MORE: DC wants to make 2 superhero movies a year that would be exclusive to HBO Max

“Wonder Woman 1984” fared better in its debut in US theaters over the weekend. It made $16.7 million, the best opening since the pandemic began, but a sign that US movie theaters are far from a full recovery. 2017’s “Wonder Woman” earned $103 million in its opening weekend in the US. It ultimately grossed $822 million worldwide, $90.5 million of which came from China.

“Wonder Woman 1984” debuted simultaneously on WarnerMedia’s streaming service HBO Max in the US over the weekend (it’s not available internationally yet). WarnerMedia said on Sunday that nearly half of its retail subscribers (those who subscribe directly to Max rather than through a cable provider) watched the movie on its first day on Friday, but didn’t provide specific viewership numbers. Max had 12.6 million activations as of December 8.

Industry experts previously said that piracy could be an issue once the movie had become available to stream.

“A pristine, high-definition copy of the movie will be available in everyone’s queues within days,” Shawn Robbins, the Box Office Pro chief analyst, told Business Insider last week. 

But a lack of enthusiasm for “Wonder Woman 1984” may have contributed to its dramatic decline at the China box office. It scored a 7.8 on the Chinese ticketing app Maoyan and a 6.5 from the Chinese social network Douban, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The movie has generally been favored less than its predecessor, “Wonder Woman,” among audiences and critics.

It has a 65% Rotten Tomatoes critic score and a 73% audience score based on over 1,700 user ratings (“Wonder Woman” has a 93% critic score and 84% audience score). The sequel received a B+ on Cinemascore, which surveys audiences on a movie’s opening night (the first movie received an A).

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