Box Office: 'Godzilla: King of the Monsters' Bows to Lackluster $49M
'Rocketman' blasts off with $25 million, while Blumhouse's 'Ma' scares up $18 million.
Godzilla was the king of the box office this weekend, but not by much.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters roared its way to a lackluster $49 million in its debut at the North American box office at 4,108 screens, coming in below the majority of stateside projections that had the pic opening above $50 million.
The movie earned $8.1 million from Imax screenings across 406 locations, making up 17 percent of its box office bow.
King of the Monsters launched below the last installment in Warner Bros. and Legendary's monster movie series: 2017's Kong: Skull Island earned $61 million at its North American bow, while that pic trailed Godzilla's $93 million (unadjusted for inflation) in its 2014 debut, as well.
Vera Farmiga, Kyle Chandler and Millie Bobby Brown star as a family in the film that sees Godzilla collide with Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah. The large supporting ensemble includes Bradley Whitford, Ziyi Zhang, Ken Watanabe, Thomas Middleditch, Sally Hawkins and O'Shea Jackson Jr.
King of the Monsters, which was directed by Michael Dougherty, did not appeal to critics (it currently sits at a 39 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), while audiences gave it a B+ CinemaScore.
Males made up 67 percent of the audience, with 53 percent of moviegoers between 17 to 34 years old. Caucasian audiences made up 47 percent of the pic's ticket buyers, followed by Hispanic (24 percent), Asian (16 percent) and African-American (13 percent) audiences.
King of the Monsters came in No. 1 at the international box office with a gross of $130 million, led by China ($70 million), where Legendary East partnered on the release. Other top territories were Japan ($8.4 million), Mexico ($4.6 million) and Taiwan ($4.1 million).
Counter-programmed against King of the Monsters was Paramount's Elton John biopic Rocketman, which debuted on 3,600 screens to a solid $25 million.
Led by Taron Egerton, the Dexter Fletcher-directed movie musical follows the legendary singer-songwriter's rise to stardom and history with substance abuse. Bryce Dallas Howard, Richard Madden and Jamie Bell also star.
The R-rated movie premiered at this year's Cannes Film Festival to positive reviews and currently sits at 90 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, with an A- CinemaScore. Rocketman's audience skewed much older than King of the Monsters', with one-third of the audience over the age of 45, and Caucasians accounted for a huge 70 percent of moviegoers.
While Rocketman posted impressive earnings, it did not fly quite as high as fellow rock biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, which debuted to $51 million on Nov. 2 and went on the gross $216.4 million at the domestic box office. But the Queen biopic omitted drug use and sex in order to maintain an audience-friendly PG-13 rating.
Rocketman's international box office sits at $31.2 million to date, picking up $19.2 million this weekend. The biopic launched in the U.K. last weekend, where it has since grossed $15.3 million. Top earning new territories include Australia ($3.9 million), France ($1.8 million) and Germany ($1.5 million).
The weekend's third new opening, the Blumhouse and Universal title Ma, bowed to a big $18 million on 2,808 screens.
Octavia Spencer reteamed with The Help director Tate Taylor for the horror thriller, which centers on a middle-aged woman who befriends a group of local high schoolers, letting them party in her basement. But things quickly take a turn, as friendship turns into something far more sinister.
The R-rated thriller has a 61 percent freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes, while audiences gave it a B- CinemaScore. Ma's audience had a nearly equal split between Caucasian and African-American moviegoers — 37 percent and 36 percent, respectively — with 68 percent falling between 18-34 years old.
Holdovers at the box office include Disney's live-action Aladdin, which came in No. 2 over the weekend with $42.3 million in stateside ticket sales, declining 61 percent following its $112.7 million bow. The movie's worldwide take of $446 million to date means it has already surpassed the total gross of the studio's last live-action title, Dumbo ($349 million).
And the Annapurna high school comedy Booksmart, which underperformed in its debut over the four-day Memorial Day weekend with an $8.7 million box office, fell by 52 percent with a $3.3 million haul.