‘Godzilla X Kong’ Defies Expectations, Sets Opening Weekend Record


Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, the newest installment in Warner’s MonsterVerse franchise, opened to a much higher-than-expected figure at the North American box office over the weekend (via Variety).

Adam Wingard’s monster-mash sequel grossed $80 million between Thursday night and Sunday, just a hair below the $82.5 million Warner’s celebrated Dune: Part Two netted in its opening frame. With those two high-profile releases, the studio behind Barbie currently boasts the top two highest openings of 2024 so far.

Godzilla x Kong’s figure is especially astonishing because the movie was only tracking to earn between $50 million and $55 million in its opening weekend. The $80 million payday is a vast increase over Wingard’s last sequel, 2021’s pandemic-era Godzilla vs. Kong. That opened to $31 million in March 2021, as it premiered simultaneously in theaters and on Max (then HBO Max).

But The New Empire’s cume is still far beyond what most of Warner’s MonsterVerse franchise has earned. It’s the second-highest MonsterVerse opening of all time, behind 2014’s Godzilla, which kicked off the new franchise.

Godzilla opened to a stunning $93 million in May 2014, roughly $121 million adjusted for inflation. Since then, the following movies have dropped off precipitously. Kong: Skull Island debuted at a respectable $61 million in 2017, but 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters opened to a rather paltry $47.1 million. However, Godzilla vs. Kong surpassed King of the Monsters at the global box office even though many cinemas were still closed due to the pandemic.

Now, it appears The New Empire will outgross both recent installments.

It’s interesting to note that the MonsterVerse movies have performed increasingly well as they’ve set aside their human cast to focus on creature punch-ups. 2014’s Godzilla, despite being a perfect distillation of the original series, was derided for not getting to the action quickly enough. It suffered a devastating drop at the box office once word of mouth spread, but the immediate sequels still made the monsters a cog in the humans’ storyline.

With Godzilla vs. Kong, Wingard decided to pare down the live-action cast and focus on the digitally generated stars everyone came to see. He went even further towards that approach with The New Empire, which features the smallest live-action cast of any MonsterVerse film yet and spends a majority of its screen time with computerized apes and lizards. The franchise’s biggest stars, Millie Bobby Brown and Alexander Skarsgård, were not asked back in order to make more room for brawling beasts.

Along with the $80 million it earned in North America, Godzilla x Kong generated an additional $114 million from 64 overseas territories. That brings its four-day total to $194 million, well on its way to earning back its substantial $135 million budget.

In addition to the eponymous beasties, Godzilla x Kong stars returning franchise leads Rebecca Hall and Brian Tyree Henry alongside new addition Dan Stevens.

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