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Legendary and Warner Bros. are betting on Skull Island to reboot the iconic King Kong film franchise. The movie boasts a hefty production budget of at least $185 million before marketing costs and faces the daunting challenge of being sandwiched between Fox’s Wolverine threequel, Logan, and Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast, which debuts in another week on March 17.
Prerelease tracking suggests Skull Island, hitting theaters at the beginning of the spring break corridor, will open in the $45 million-$50 million range domestically. Most box-office pundits believe it will come in on the higher side, thanks to strong reviews and that there’s plenty of room for upside. If the tentpole comes in on the lower end of projections, however, it could find itself in a close battle with Logan, which opened to a stellar $88.4 million last weekend in North America and nearly $250 million globally, well ahead of expectations.
Legendary and Warners likely didn’t count on Logan being such a sensation. Skull Island should play to a broader audience than the male-skewing, R-rated Logan because of a friendlier PG-13 rating.
Overseas, Skull Island sets sail in 61 foreign markets, minus China, where it rolls out March 24, for a projected international debut in the low- to mid-$80 million range. The title opened Wednesday in five overseas markets, grossing $3.3 million. As in North America, it faces the disadvantage of going up against Logan.
Kong: Skull Island is the second title in Legendary and Warners‘ monster universe after Godzilla, the 2014 summer tentpole that opened to $94 million.
The last time Hollywood cavorted with the iconic ape was in 2005, when Universal and Peter Jackson’s King Kong debuted to $50.1 million domestically in December 2005 on its way to grossing $550 million worldwide. (Jackson’s film was infamous for costing north of $200 million.)
This time out, the story is set entirely on the island where the animal resides alongside a bevy of other oversize creatures. Skull Island, directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts in his first studio assignment, is set in 1973 at the end of the Vietnam War, when a government agent assembles a team to investigate the mysterious, fog-shrouded locale. The ensemble cast includes Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson and John Goodman.
Kong: Skull Island is the only movie launching nationwide this weekend.
New offerings at the specialty box office include Ritesh Batra’s The Sense of an Ending, starring Charlotte Rampling and Jim Broadbent; Personal Shopper, directed by French filmmaker Olivier Assayas and starring Kristen Stewart; Raw, a French horror film about cannibalism; and the documentary My Scientology Movie from BBC journalist Louis Theroux. (Personal Shopper and Raw both premiered at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.)
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