Moviegoers sent a message to Hollywood this weekend: We’re ready to go back to the movies – and we’ll buy tickets even if the same movie is instantly available in our living rooms – but we want to leave our dark world for a silly fantasy world. .
“Godzilla vs Kong,” a returning monster film in which an atomic-blown lizard fights a computer-generated monkey above an aircraft carrier (before everyone scurries off to Earth’s hollow center) , grossed approximately $ 48.5 million at 3,064 North American theaters between Wednesday and Sunday. It was the highest turnout (by far) for a movie since the start of the pandemic.
The PG-13 movie wasn’t even an exclusive offer to theaters. “Godzilla vs. Kong, ”produced by Legendary Entertainment, was also available on HBO Max, a streaming service that sells monthly subscriptions for $ 15, less than the cost of an adult ticket to major city theaters.
“People seem ready for emotional release, to experience this human connectedness – laugh together, be afraid together – and complete the transportation that only cinemas can provide,” said Mary Parent, vice president of Legendary and global production manager in a phone interview.
Abroad, “Godzilla vs. Kong ”raised an additional $ 236.9 million, including $ 136 million in China, a market that has recently preferred local films to imported films. The film has yet to open in other major markets, such as Japan and Brazil.
Some box office analysts were reluctant to declare a recovery for Hollywood, noting that coronavirus cases have again increased in the United States and parts of Europe have returned to lockdown. David A. Gross, who runs Franchise Entertainment Research, a film consulting firm, said the turnout between Friday and Sunday – while being “a clear and positive indication that cinema has inherent strengths that don’t go away. “- was nevertheless” half of what it would have been under normal circumstances.
About 93 percent of theaters in the United States have been licensed to open, but government guidelines limit capacity to 50 percent and, in some large cities, 25 percent. The majority of cinemas in Canada remain closed.
But Warner Bros., which distributed “Godzilla vs. Kong,” was too busy popping champagne on Sunday to dwell on buzz-killing warnings. “THE GREAT MOVIES ARE BACK WITH OUR OPENING KAIJU!” the studio said in a press release about the weekend’s earnings, using the Japanese term for overgrown movie monsters.
The Computer-Generated Mix of Titans, directed by Adam Wingard and costing around $ 155 million to make, has received good reviews. AO Scott, the New York Times reviewer, described it as an escape adventure made with “lavish grandiose” and “no pretense.” Ticket buyers gave the film an A rating in CinemaScore’s exit polls, higher than “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” in 2019 or “Kong: Skull Island” in 2017.
As Hollywood adapts to the streaming age by making new movies more quickly available for home viewing – to the dismay of movie theater owners – quality matters more than ever, as does size and format. scope: what’s worth a trip to the movies for the foreseeable future) and what’s not?
Non-franchise films without spectacular visual effects can struggle, box office analysts say, pointing to the disappointing arrival of “Raya and the Last Dragon” last month. Godzilla and King Kong, meanwhile, are cinematic comfort food: proven absurd pleasure and larger than life. A large percentage of weekend ticket sales for “Godzilla vs. Kong” came from large-format theaters that charge a premium for tickets. Imax, for example, said about 1,000 of its North American screenings were sales.
“The audience demonstrates that pent-up demand to experience making blockbuster movies on a large scale,” David King, an Imax distribution manager, said in an email.
This was certainly the case with Iveth Vacao, who brought his 8-year-old son Jayden to an Imax morning of “Godzilla vs. Kong ”at the TCL Chinese Theater in Los Angeles.
“We don’t usually come to the movies, but we wanted to experience something,” Vacao said before the lights went out. “Covid made us appreciate this kind of thing more. Of course, you can get the same movie at home, but not the same experience. “
Jayden didn’t care to bet which creature would emerge victorious. (“Can they both?”) But he was sure of one thing.
“When the next ‘Venom’ comes out, we’ll definitely be back,” he said, referring to “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” scheduled by Sony in the fall. “I want to see it on the bigger screen.”