In the last couple of weeks, it has been made pretty damn clear that people have sincerely missed going to the movies. For the last year people have primarily had to feed their film cravings with home video, digital releases, and streaming services, but after an incredibly long year cinemas are finally making a big comeback, and it seems that there are a lot of folks interested in celebrating the occasion. Adam Wingard's Godzilla vs. Kong has been the primary recipient of this love, as its opening weekend numbers set records for a mid-pandemic release, and it has continued to succeed in its second Friday-to-Sunday as well – its domestic haul helping to boost its global total to an exciting milestone.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Godzilla vs. Kong added an additional $13.4 million to its box office sales this past weekend, meaning that to date it has made $69.5 million here at home. This means that it is now officially the highest grossing domestic release since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. That distinction previously belonged to Christopher Nolan's Tenet, which to date has made $57.9 million from ticket sales in North America (having opened last fall and has returned to IMAX theaters since). It's now playing in over 3,000 locations nationwide – including both Los Angeles and New York – though COVID-19 protocols and limited total capacity rules are still in place.
Those numbers are actually pretty small when you look at what Godzilla vs. Kong is doing abroad, however. The film got a head start internationally, released about a week early in foreign markets, and it has been a huge success. Combined with the $69.5 million from North America, the blockbuster has thus far earned $357.8 million. This means that it is now actually on pace to easily out-gross Mike Dougherty's Godzilla: King Of The Monsters, which made $386.6 million worldwide when it played on the big screen in 2019 (when there wasn't a pandemic putting an asterisk on all box office figures).
That in mind, a very important thing to keep in mind while looking at Godzilla vs. Kong's numbers is context. As I noted in my box office piece last week, the MonsterVerse has hardly proven to be a huge win for Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures since its inception in 2014 with the release of Gareth Edwards' Godzilla. The movies, including Jordan Vogt-Roberts' Kong: Skull Island in addition to the aforementioned Godzilla: King Of The Monsters, did decently when they were respectively released, but they hardly demonstrated that the world is begging for more.
Godzilla vs. Kong is getting a massive response, but a considerable fraction of its audience most certainly has to consist of people who are just desperate to watch a massive blockbuster on the big screen again after a long time away from the experience. That is also something important to consider when you look at the movie's day-and-date release model on HBO Max. People opting to go see the new film at their local theater may suggest on the surface that there can be a totally peaceful coexistence between theatrical and streaming, but it's hard to judge these results because of all of the external, unmeasurable factors in play. It's a situation that we likely won't have much more clarity on until we get into the back half of 2021, which still will see Warner Bros. release their full slate of titles the same way.
As for the rest of the domestic Top 10, this was a box office weekend that obviously saw most of the attention go to Godzilla vs. Kong, but there were notably five others titles playing that earned north of seven figures. The title that came closest to the MonsterVerse blockbuster was Ilya Naishuller's Nobody, which made an additional $2.7 million in its third week of release. In North America that means that the movie has now made $15.6 million – though things may considerably slow down next weekend given the fact that the Bob Odenkirk-led action movie will be available on PVOD starting this Friday, April 16 (an extension of the agreement between Universal Pictures and AMC Theatres that was struck last year).
Arriving behind Nobody in the domestic rankings is the new Evan Spiliotopoulos-directed horror movie The Unholy, which added an additional $2.4 million to its box office sales in North America, which now totals $6.7 million. That was just enough money to once again beat out Walt Disney Animation Studios' Raya And The Last Dragon, which has now made $35.2 million at home thanks to Friday-to-Sunday delivering a fresh $2.1 million.
New release-wise, the only title bold enough to arrive on the big screen in the wake of Godzilla vs. Kong was Neil Burger's Voyagers, which didn't do so hot. The film, which has been described as basically being a take of Lord of the Flies set in outer space, began its run in theaters making just $1.4 million in nearly 2,000 locations. It did manage to beat out the $1.1 million made by Tim Story's Tom And Jerry and secure a place in the Top 5, but that doesn't really mean much when you consider that the live-action/animation hybrid movie has been playing for seven weeks now.
Clearly not everything is hitting in theaters, but we can most definitely still celebrate the success of Godzilla vs. Kong, and hope that the industry continues to get big boosts from other upcoming major releases – including Simon McQuoid's Mortal Kombat (April 23), Darren Lynn Bousman's Spiral: From The Book Of Saw (May 14), and Shawn Levy's Free Guy (May 21). Each should (hopefully) offer their own kind of fun time at the movies.
The climate is starting to change for movie theaters, and after a long time it feels like there is a whole lot of optimism about what's coming in the next few months. I'm certainly keeping my fingers crossed that it won't be much longer before everything is back to some semblance of normal, and I'll start to publish my regular box office column once again. In the meantime, to check out everything that is ahead for movie lovers this year, be sure to head on over to our 2021 Movie Release Schedule.