After a long year of gloom and doom at the box office, the Easter holiday weekend finally offered a giant ray of hope for movie theaters thanks to two of cinema’s most iconic characters. Godzilla vs. Kong, Warner Bros.’ big-budget kaiju grudge match, smashed pandemic-era records left and right in North America: The PG-13 extravaganza opened in the largest number of theaters since the COVID-19 outbreak (3,064); it had the largest opening day during that period ($9.6 million on Wednesday); it had the highest single-day gross ($12.5 million on Saturday); and it had the biggest three-day and five-day opening weekends ($32.2 million and $48.5 million respectively). In other words, it was just the kind of monster weekend that Hollywood’s been waiting for.
The eagerly-awaited tentpole, which pits the 67-year-old radioactive lizard against the 88-year-old giant ape, roared past the previous opening weekend record holders from the past year—Tenet, which pulled in $20.2 million over Labor Day weekend, and Wonder Woman 1984, which earned $16.7 million in the first three days of its Christmas release. With its muscular $10,509 per-screen average, Godzilla vs. Kong represented the first real sign of normalcy in a year that has been anything but normal. The blockbuster’s $48.5 million domestic haul in its first five days was especially impressive considering that the title is also available to HBO Max subscribers for no additional charge. And while Warner Bros. has not released streaming numbers for the title yet, it did say that Godzilla vs. Kong had a “larger viewing audience than any other film or show on HBO Max since launch.” The film received an ‘A’ grade from CinemaScore.
Overseas, Godzilla vs. Kong continued to rampage at the box office, too. After raking in $121.8 million abroad last weekend, it added another $115.1 million this week, bringing its two-week international total to $236.9 million and its cumulative global haul to $285.4 million so far. By far, the biggest overseas market was China, which was responsible for $44.2 million of its total worldwide gross. And while it would be premature to read too much into the film’s success, it does hint that audiences may finally be getting more comfortable with the idea of returning to theaters thanks to increased vaccination rates, easing restrictions, and pent-up demand for the kinds of movies that play especially well on big screens. It will be interesting to see how the other major studios interpret the film’s numbers with regard to their own potential blockbusters currently slated for release this summer.
While Godzilla vs. Kong hogged all of the headlines, there was another newcomer to the Top 5 this weekend—Screen Gems’ occult horror film, The Unholy. Despite middling-to-poor reviews, the PG-13-rated chiller starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan debuted in second place with a more down-to-earth $3.2 million. Opening in 1,850 theaters, The Unholy scored a $1,729 per-screen average. It has not opened internationally yet.
In third place was last week’s champion, Nobody. Universal’s bullet-riddled action flick about a suburban dad-turned-vigilante (Better Call Saul’s Bob Odenkirk) added $3.1 million its second frame. The PG-13-rated film dropped off -55% from the previous weekend and managed a $1,195 per-screen average in 2,567 theaters, bringing its domestic box office total to $11.9 million. Outside of North America, the movie has tacked on $9.2 million, bringing its cumulative worldwide gross to $21.1 million.
In fourth place was Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon. In its fifth week in theaters, the PG-rated computer-animated adventure added $2.1 million domestically, slipping -45.4% from the previous session. Despite also being available as a premium VOD rental on the Disney+ streaming platform for a $30 fee, the film had a $1,011 per-screen average in 2,031 theaters, bringing its domestic box office total to $32.2 million. Overseas, Raya has racked up $54.2 million to date, pushing its current worldwide total to $86.4 million.
Rounding out the top five was Warner Bros.’ Tom and Jerry, which piled on another $1.4 million in its sixth week in multiplexes. The PG-rated ‘toon starring the iconic, squabbling cat-and-mouse team dipped -44% from last weekend and scored a $615 per-screen average in 2,273 locations. Its six-week domestic total now stands at $39.5 million. Abroad, the film has added $54 million thus far, bringing its worldwide tally to $93.5 million.
Landing just outside of the top five was the weekend’s last rookie of note: Atlas Distribution Company’s The Girl Who Believes in Miracles. The religious-themed drama about a young girl who seems to be able to heal the sick, bowed in sixth place with $580,068. The PG-rated indie, which stars Austyn Johnson and Mira Sorvino, opened in 640 theaters and had a $906 per-screen average. By Chris Nashawaty