Whoever said moviegoing was bound to stay dead, or that streaming has won, needs to go back to business school. Because a big event movie plus a holiday weekend, along with LA & NYC reopened exhibition markets equaled big bucks. At the box office, Warner Bros./Legendary’s Godzilla vs. Kong decimated all industry projections with a 5-day box office of $48.5M after a $12.5M Saturday, +8%. Godzilla vs. Kong‘s 3-day was $32.2M and that’s the high-end of the 5-day projection which was being made before its Wednesday opening. There has to be a lot of WarnerMedia executives who are glad that Godzilla vs. Kong was never sold to Netflix.
“Monstrous results all across the United States. Audiences are excited to see movies in theaters on the big screen with big sound,” exclaimed Warner Bros. Domestic Distribution Boss Jeff Goldstein this morning.
Warner Bros. was the first to ignite the theatrical marketplace during the pandemic. They began to reopen theaters safely with Tenet back in August. Now the studio is finally delivering a box office champ here as vaccinations go up, and Covid cases decrease across the country.
“This movie represents a way for people to slowly re-introduce themselves into a social environment,” Josh Grode, CEO of Legendary Entertainment tells Deadline, “Heading back to movie theaters and learning we’re not going to get sick; it’s these steps we’re taking over the next two to three months to get back to the normalcy of life. This is a movie for a lot of people who are taking the first step.”
This weekend’s B.O. for Godzilla vs. Kong comes as a great sign for the motion picture business and movie theaters that the pandemic hasn’t made moviegoing extinct.
A pro-streaming Hollywood executive might think that this is an opportunity to declare WarnerMedia’s theatrical-and-streaming HBO Max day-and-date model a success.
No, no, no, no, no!
Think of all the money that Godzilla vs. Kong could have made this weekend without HBO Max. Godzilla vs. Kong‘s box office win here is an indicator of that, even with Canada partially open. Not to rain on Warner Bros.’ parade here because they truly made this a win in a way no other streamer could with a theatrical title. But, by having HBO Max in the mix with Godzilla vs. Kong just subtracts ticket sales, or depletes what might be another window. As studios like Disney look to twist exhibition’s arm over rental terms with a theatrical-streaming day and date release like Black Widow, and maintain a kooky business philosophy that “consumers will see movies where they want to see them,” the sheer power of Godzilla vs. Kong this weekend proves that moviegoing and theatrical are still king.
WarnerMedia didn’t reveal any hard, numerical statistical results as to how Godzilla vs. Kong did on HBO Max this past weekend. However Andy Forssell, EVP and General Manager of WarnerMedia Direct-to-Consumer did say this, “The HBO Max audience has spoken very clearly and loudly: they love this film and are watching it more than once. Comparing audience metrics in the first four days since its release, Godzilla vs. Kong had a larger viewing audience than any other film or show on HBO Max since launch.”
A sole theatrical release in all its Imax, PLF or Dolby glory makes a piece of IP exclusive and premium and propels the revenue ancillary chain. A studio can then maintain some exclusivity on that title, create anticipation for those who may not have seen it, and sell it in another window, even if it’s getting more subscribers on HBO Max. Now, Warners has already indicated they’ll pivot to their event films from the theatrical-HBO Max model given their recent 45-day theatrical window deal with Regal for 2022. Also, the 2021 HBO Max theatrical slate plan was only intended for this year alone as the nation slowly comes out of the pandemic.
It hasn’t been decided yet if Legendary’s other Warner Bros. title Dune will go day and date theatrical and on HBO Max. This is despite the fact that the latter streaming service keeps promoting it as part of their 2021 suite. The success of Godzilla vs. Kong this past weekend makes a clear argument in Legendary’s negotiations with Warner to keep that all-star sci-fi movie strictly in theaters.
There are several second and third parties that benefit here from the glory of Godzilla vs. Kong in the ecosphere of the domestic B.O., not just Warner Bros. Exhibition, Imax, Dolby, concession makers, etc. reap in the financial success of this Adam Wingard-directed title.
Overall, Comscore reports that all films at the domestic weekend box office grossed $44.7M, the best three days we’ve ever seen since the pandemic began in mid-March, +143% from last weekend and get this: +109,000% since the same frame a year ago. The 2021 box office through April 4 counts $261.6M, -83% from the $1.8 billion that 2020 had grossed between January and the first weekend of April.
Just take a look at how this fourthquel overall boosted the industry. According to Comscore, the entire LA market for over the last two days for all films made $2.16M (note LA County theaters don’t go to 50% capacity until Monday, but Orange County is at 50%), NYC grossed $1.56M (that market still has 25% capacity, and there’s no word when it will immediately rise to 50%), Dallas Fort Worth saw $1.34M and Houston rang up $1.06M. The industry hasn’t seen these type of city-by-city box office numbers for a while.
Following the domestic B.O. fatigue of 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters, distance was given on the calendar already for this fourthquel during pre-pandemic.
Grode tells Deadline, “We did a lot of analytics after King of the Monsters, and the audience showed that they wanted to see these monsters going at it. This movie gives the audiences what they want and we’re seeing the results of that.”
Several sell-outs abounded for Godzilla vs. Kong. As we told you before it opened, the movie booked a record amount of private auditoriums at 10K, more than any other title during the pandemic.
Domestic Imax auditoriums accounted for 9.3% of Godzilla vs. Kong‘s 5-day box office or $4.5M, with over 1k sold out shows (accounting for about 25% of all available IMAX weekend shows). That Imax domestic number is the best the large format exhibitor has seen in over a year since Bad Boys for Life in January 2020.
Godzilla vs. Kong‘s top 10 markets were Los Angeles, New York, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, Chicago, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Orlando and Atlanta.
The top 10 locations for GvK were 1. Cinemark Tinseltown El Paso, 2. AMC Burbank Los Angeles, 3. Santikos Palladium San Antonio, 4. AMC Orange Los Angeles, 5. Consolidated Victoria Ward Stadium Honolulu, 6. AMC Edinburg Texas, 7. AMC Disney Springs Orlando, 8. AMC Gulf Pointe Houston, 9. Santikos Casa Blanca San Antonio, and 10. Cinemark Pharr Town Center Texas.
Warner Bros had a theatrical and PVOD release for Godzilla vs. Kong in Canada which yielded an additional $3M per the studio’s press note this AM.
So, what happens next in the wake of Godzilla vs. Kong? Studios should see this as a promising sign to move up more wide releases, not back down like they did after the opening of Tenet. Warner Bros. has already created some runway for Godzilla vs. Kong here to hopefully leg out by pushing its highly anticipated New Line R-rated feature Mortal Kombat a week from April 16 to April 23.
As far as more Godzilla or Kong movies, Grode said this morning, “we have a number of ideas for more movies.” The franchise has amassed $1.76 billion from the four pics.
Again, if any Hollywood executive is asking where people want to see movies –at theaters or in the home– clearly, it’s not at home.
Other B.O. notes: Sony, which didn’t spend the degree of P&A money to push The Unholy as Warner’s did with GvK, is calling the No. 2 spot with $3.2M for the Screen Gems horror PG-13 title. On the other hand, Sony Pictures Classics’ Golden Globe nominated French Exit drama starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Lucas Hedges pops into the top 10 with $193K.
Atlas Entertainment had the Mira Sorvino faith-based movie The Girl Who Believes in Miracles at 640 theaters in 154 markets. The pic played best in the faith-based tracks of Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, the Rio Grande Valley along with Phoenix, however, numbers aren’t up to pre-pandemic levels for these Christian movies just yet.
Top 10 chart–daily grosses listed as reported by studio:
1.) Godzilla vs. Kong (WB/Leg) 3,064 theaters/Wed $9.6M/Thu $6.7M/Fri $11.6M/Sat $12.5M/$8.1M Sun/3-day $32.2M/5-day $48.5M/Wk 1
2.) The Unholy (Sony) 1,850 theaters Fri $1.2MM/Sat $1.2M/Sun $770K/$3.2M/Wk 1
3.) Nobody (Uni) 2,567 theaters (+107) Fri $1.06M/Sat $1.22M/Sun $790K/3-day: $3.07M (-55%)/Total $11.8M/Wk 2
4.) Raya and the Last Dragon (Dis) 2,031 theaters (-181), Fri $800K/Sat $761K/Sun $493k/ 3-day: $2.05M (-45%), Total: $32.1M/Wk 5
5.) Tom & Jerry (WB) 2,273 theaters (-191), 3-day: $1.4M (-48%)/Total: $39.5M/Wk 6
6.) The Girl Who Believes in Miracles (Atlas) 640 theaters 3-day $526K/Wk 1
7.) The Courier (RSA) 1,322 theaters (-319), Fri $165K/Sat $174K/Sun $113K/3-day: $452K (-57%)/Total: $4.2M/Wk 3
8.) Chaos Walking (Lionsgate) 1,605 theaters (-431), Fri $134K/Sat $149K/Sun $98K/3-day: $380K (-69%)/Total: $12.2M/Wk 5
9.) The Croods: A New Age (Uni) 1,212 theaters (-107), Fri $81K /Sat $76K/Sun $53K/3-day: $210K (-62%)/Total: $56.3M/Wk 19
10.) French Exit (SPC) 483 theaters 3-day $193K/Total $200,5K/Wk 8