A hit! A very palpable hit! The importance of the impressive opening seen this past weekend by Warner Bros’ GODZILLA VS KONG can not be underestimated as the global box office seeks recovery following a long hard year. The monster mash-up delivered an international theatrical opening of $123.1 million from 38 markets – the biggest opening for a US movie since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Much has, rightly, also been made of the near-$70 million opening in China, but as impressive as the Chinese and overall international numbers are it is only in looking at the real global nature of GODZILLA VS KONG’s roaring success in uncertain times that hopes that theatrical recovery is possible are truly confirmed.
An overview of 25 Comscore-tracked markets where GODZILLA VS KONG opened this weekend shows it out-performed 2019’s GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS in 80%. More than 10 saw the new film open to more than twice the opening of its franchise predecessor! These included Russia (where it was 180% higher), Australia (+189%), Spain (+213%) and Argentina (+291%) – showing encouraging recovery signs in every region. Its opening was also on par with KING OF THE MONSTERS in China and Mexico.
It outperformed the 2014 GODZILLA in 15 of 22 Comscore-tracked markets where information is available; and 12 of 23 where data is available for 2017’s KONG: SKULL ISLAND. This shows that, with strong titles in the market, “normal” levels of business can be achieved, whether in a market already seen to be flourishing (such as China and Russia); a market rapidly growing (such as Argentina); or one that had, until very recently, been struggling (such as Spain or Malaysia).
The opening brought a host of both film- and market-pandemic bests and is likely to lead to new or repeating high levels on Gower Street’s Blueprint To Recovery in multiple markets for the current play-week (something we will be tracking this week and in Gower Street’s next International Road To Recovery report). That Chinese opening was not only the best opening for an import title since cinemas there re-opened last July, more than doubling the opening of TENET, but also exceeded the full-run gross of the Christopher Nolan film.
GODZILLA VS KONG controlled a massive 82% market share in China on its opening weekend, but that paled next to the 91% market shares seen in both Malaysia and Taiwan. Singapore (88%), Ecuador (87%), Mexico (83%), UAE (78%), Columbia (77%), Argentina (70%), Hong Kong (65%), and New Zealand (64%) all saw the film dominate, while Russia, South Korea and Australia also saw it account for more than 50% of the market.
Australia’s 55% market share was particularly notable given that it was a rare market where another title opened to positive results. PETER RABBIT 2 debuted at #2 with A$2.7 million ($2m). The result was only 26% behind the original PETER RABBIT, an excellent showing for a sequel. It was 30% better than the 2019 opening for family sequel THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2. With the Easter weekend and school holidays coming this week this should put Australia in a strong position to chase its elusive Stage 4 Blueprint To Recovery target.
It might have proven a post-pandemic high (for a US title) in China but elsewhere openings were even more promising. In UAE it scored the best opening since JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL in December 2019, a result matched in Australia and New Zealand. Malaysia and Singapore also saw best results since December 2019, since IP MAN 4 and STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER respectively. In Russia it delivered the best opening since ICE 2 in January 2020 and the best result for a US film since FROZEN 2 in November 2019! In Latin America, Mexico delivered the best opening since SONIC THE HEDGEHOG in February 2020; Argentina the best since January 2020; Colombia since ONWARD at the beginning of March 2020; while Ecuador also managed the best since FROZEN 2 in November 2019.
How the film holds and whether markets can build on this success will depend greatly on other films coming into the markets, but GODZILLA VS KONG proved there remains a strong appetite, all over the world, to see new blockbuster content on the big screen.
Other markets will follow. Japan, where the film is released by Toho, is scheduled to open on May 14. Its Domestic launch next week will be a simultaneous theatrical and HBO MAX affair, but as TOM & JERRY showed earlier this year, the presence of a film in the home need not discourage audiences from turning out to movie theaters where available. In the, still closed, UK it debuts online this week but may be available to cinemas later should they get the go-ahead to re-open in May as currently planned.
GODZILLA VS KONG is the very type of blockbuster that demands to be seen on the biggest screen, with the best sound available. For fans it is a true event, bringing together two of the most iconic “creatures” in cinema. This first wave of openings demonstrates audiences’ willingness to return for such an event and the recognition that, for many, a home experience will not replicate the big screen experience.