For Warner Bros., “Godzilla vs. Kong” already looks like a success.
The film opened last week in China, the top movie market in the world, and had a powerful debut there earning roughly $70 million.
It already has made more than $120 million at the global box office, a strong showing considering that the last film in Warner Bros.’ “MonsterVerse” series was “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” which made $394 million worldwide in 2019, according to Comscore (SCOR).
And that was before the pandemic.
The film’s strong start in China can be seen as great news for theater owners in the US, who have struggled to find audiences to fill seats for more than a year.
Films like “Tenet,” “The Croods: A New Age” and “Tom & Jerry” were notable releases over the last year, but have brought in mixed results at a box office disrupted by the pandemic.
“Godzilla vs. Kong” is arriving just as the tide seems to be turning for movie attendance. “Hollywood needs more popcorn flicks in theaters if it wants to cultivate a revival,” according to Jeff Bock, senior analyst at entertainment research firm Exhibitor Relations.
“The return-to-form is a Catch-22 for the industry, as none of the big-budget releases thus far have met studio expectations in terms of overall grosses,” Bock said. “To resonate with general audiences, the film industry needs blockbuster content. Pure and simple.”
Warner Bros. is in a “unique situation” since it’s releasing films theatrically and on streaming, he added, because it helps “not only theater exhibition, but their own streaming growth.” The company announced in December that all of its 2021 films would be released in theaters and to HBO Max simultaneously.
“The monstrous opening [in China] last weekend certainly helped engage prospective audiences and helped continue to build buzz in North America where theaters have been open but struggling,” Bock added. “With another large opening weekend, it will be a clear signal to studios that audiences not only feel safe returning to theaters but will support blockbuster-sized offerings this summer.”
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