Box Office: 'Godzilla' Opens to Monstrous $93.2 Million in North America

7:12 AM PST 05/17/2014 by Pamela McClintock
Warner Bros. Pictures
"Godzilla"

UPDATED: The summer's second tentpole -- likely launching a new Hollywood franchise -- opens to $103 million overseas for a global total of $196.2 million; Jon Hamm's sports drama "Million Dollar Arm" muted.

Gareth Edwards' Godzilla debuted to a monstrous $93.2 million from 3,952 theaters at the domestic box office, giving the iconic giant lizard a new lease on life and delivering the second-best opening of the year.

Overseas, the $160 million movie debuted to $103 million from 64 markets for a global total of $196.2 million for Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros.

PHOTOS: 'Godzilla' Premiere Invades L.A.

Godzilla was so strong on Friday in North America that some box-office observers believed it could approach $98 million for the weekend. Either way, the movie's debut far exceeded expectations. Males fueled the film (58 percent), and especially younger males, a demo that is harder and harder to lure to the multiplex.

Overall, 40 percent of ticket buyers were under the age of 40. While Godzilla received a B+ CinemaScore overall, the younger demo gave it an A CinemaScore.

Marking the summer's second tentpole, Godzilla delivered the second-best opening of the year so far after Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($95 million) and bested the $91.6 million opening of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 two weeks ago.

The $160 million movie did especially strong business in fanboy friendly Imax theaters, which turned in 15 percent of the overall gross with $13.5 million from 352 locations, putting the theater average at a stellar $40,057. And more than half of the movie's earnings came from 3D locations, an especially strong showing.

Godzilla, finally launching a Hollywood studio franchise headlined by the giant lizard, is a defining moment for Legendary Pictures, which spearheaded the reboot. Thomas Tull's Legendary financed 75 percent of Godzilla, with Warner Bros. putting up the rest of the money.

"Thomas Tull and his team did an incredible job and have delivered a new franchise," said Warners president of domestic distribution Dan Fellman.

Legendary no longer has a first-look deal with Warners -- it is now Universal's partner -- but the two companies will team on any future Godzilla movies, insiders say, adding that a sequel is already in the works.

"The tone of the movie was effectively communicated through the marketing," said Jon Jashni, Legendary's president and chief creative officer (Legendary and Warners worked on the campaign in tandem). Jashni wouldn't comment on plans for a sequel, saying said Legendary will have to wait and see how this movie holds up.

One challenge will be X-Men: Days of Future Past, which opens next weekend.

PHOTOS: Godzilla Over the Decades

An origin story, Godzilla tries to remain true to the Japanese Godzilla movies made by Japan's Toho studio. Godzilla stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins and David Strathairn.

Godzilla opens 16 years after Sony unsuccessfully tried to launch its own franchise with Roland Emmerich's Godzilla starring Matthew Broderick.

Internationally, the U.K. led with $10.4 million, followed by Russia ($9.1 million), Mexico ($8.9 million), Australia ($6.6 million) and France ($4.8 million). The movie didn't smash any records, although it scored the top opening of the year in Australia to date.

The only other film opening in North America over the weekend was Disney's Million Dollar Arm, starring Jon Hamm as a sports agent who travels to India to recruit baseball pitchers. The $25 million movie opened to a muted $10.5 million, putting it at No. 4 for the weekend behind Godzilla, Neighbors and Amazing Spider-Man 2.

Directed by Craig Gillespie from a script by Tom McCarthy, Million Dollar Arm is based on the true story of baseball pitchers Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel. The family friendly movie, rated PG, also stars Bill Paxton, Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal, Alan Arkin and Lake Bell. Couples, and not families, made up the vast majority of the audience (68 percent versus 28 percent).

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Neighbors, a hit for Universal, held well in its second weekend, falling only 47 percent to $26 million for a North American cume of $91.5 million. Internationally, the R-rated comedy has earned a promising $54.8 million to date from 35 markets for a world total of $146.3 million.

Sony's Amazing Spider-Man 2 fell roughly 54 percent in its third weekend, earning an estimated $16.8 million for a domestic cume of $172.1 million. Overseas, the movie grossed another $31.5 million for a foreign total of $461 million and global haul of $633.1 million. The sequel continues to soar in China, where it has grossed $78.5 million to date.

Female comedy The Other Woman rounded out the top five, grossing an estimated $6.5 million for a domestic total of $71.9 million.

Here are the top 10 estimates for the weekend of May 16-18 at the domestic box office:

Title, Weeks in Release/Theater Count, Studio, Weekend Total, Percentage Drop, Cume

1. Godzilla , 1/3,952, Warner Bros./Legendary, $93.2 million.

2. Neighbors, 2/3,311, Universal, $26 million, -47%, $91.5 million.

3. The Amazing Spider-Man 2, 3/3,981, Sony, $16.8 million, -53%, $172.1 million.

4. Million Dollar Arm, 1/3,019, Disney, $10.5 million.

5. The Other Woman, 4/3,084, Fox, $6.3 million, -34%, $71.7 million.

6. Heaven Is for Real, 5/2,893 Sony/TriStar, $4.4 million, -41%, $82.2 million.

7. Rio 2, 6/2,371, Fox/Blue Sky, $3.8 million, -24%, $118.1 million.

8. Captain America: The Winter Soldier, 7/2,271, Disney/Marvel, $3.75 million, -35%, $250.6 million.

9. Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return, 2/2,578, Clarius, $1.95 million, -48%, $6.6 million.

10. Moms' Night Out, 2/1,046, Sony/TriStar, $1.9 million, -56%, $7.3 million.

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