China Box Office: ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ Roars With $21.5M Friday

Warner Bros. and Legendary Entertainment’s Godzilla vs. Kong is off to a stomping start at China’s huge theatrical box office.

The Adam Wingard-directed monster sequel pulled in $21.5 million Friday, according to Legendary. The new film is pacing slightly ahead of its predecessor Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which Artisan Gateway data shows earned $20.9 million on its first day in 2019, before finishing the weekend with $70.6 million.

Local word of mouth for Godzilla vs. Kong is currently looking strong, with the film scoring 9/10 on ticketing apps Maoyan and Taopiaopiao, and 7.1 on reviews site Douban — solid numbers for a Hollywood tentpole. Based on current demand, Maoyan projects GVK to finish its run with approximately $166 million (the ticketing company’s early forecasts are often revised considerably, however).

The monster tentpole’s biggest competition this weekend in China is the holdover Chinese New Year blockbuster Hi, Mom and James Cameron’s re-released Avatar. But GVK is easily dominating both screen share and earnings, taking 87.6 percent of Friday’s total ticket sales so far, according to Maoyan, compared to about 2.8 percent a piece for Avatar and Hi, Mom. 

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It’s already abundantly clear, though, that the China market alone will give GVK claim to the biggest international theatrical debut of the pandemic era. Christopher Nolan’s Tenet previously had the biggest offshore start of the past year with $53 million. Tenet finished its run in China with a respectable but unspectacular $66.9 million.

In addition to China, GVK is opening in 38 other offshore markets this week, including sizable territories South Korea, Australia, Russia, Mexico, Taiwan, Indonesia and India, among others (the film doesn’t open in Japan, home of Godzilla, until May).

GVK is launching abroad ahead of its North American release, which will arrive day-and-date in theaters and on HBO Max on March 31.

As advertised, GVK stars Godzilla and King Kong, with some supporting appearances by Alexander Skarsgard, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Shun Oguri, Kyle Chandler, Demian Bichir and others.

The film is a co-production of Warners and Legendary. The latter, which is owned by Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group (which also owns China’s biggest movie theater circuit), is marketing and distributing GVK directly in China, with Warners handling the rest of the world.

More to come.

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