'Godzilla vs. Kong' Stomps to Pandemic-Best $122M Foreign Start

'Godzilla vs. Kong'
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

'Godzilla vs. Kong'

China alone turned in a massive $70.3 million. The Legendary and Warner Bros. tentpole doesn't open in the U.S. until next week.

Godzilla vs. Kong opened to a pandemic-best $121.8 million at the foreign box office, giving Hollywood hope that tentpoles can make a comeback as theaters reopen.

Christopher Nolan's Tenet previously had the biggest offshore start of the pandemic with $53 million.

Legendary and Warner Bros.' monster mashup enjoyed an especially loud roar in China, where it launched to a huge $70.3 million. Legendary has sole distribution and marketing duties in the Middle Kingdom, while Warners is handling everywhere else.

It also did strong business in Mexico, Australia and Russia. Overall, it performed on par with Kong: Skull Island and well ahead of Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

GVK launched in a total of 39 markets, although the film doesn't open in Japan, home of Godzilla, until May. Imax theaters generated $12.4 million in ticket sales, its best opening weekend showing since December 2019.

The tentpole launches in North America on March 31 (a Wednesday).

In China, the Adam Wingard-directed monster sequel pic made up 82 percent of the market share and scored the biggest opening for a foreign title since 2019, topping Tenet's $30 million Middle Kingdom opening last year. It also opened on par with the last installment, Godzilla: King of the Monsters ($70.6 million). Among its other pandemic era bests is claim to the most pre-sales for a foreign title, with $6.88 million (RMB45 million) compared to Tenet's  $3.44 million (RMB22.5 million) advanced sales in 2020.

Word of mouth for Godzilla vs. Kong has held up well in China. The film is scoring 9/10 on ticketing app Maoyan, 8.8 on Alibaba's Taopiaopiao and 6.8 on reviews site Douban — respectable numbers for a Hollywood tentpole.

Maoyan currently projects GVK to finish its China run with $141 million, which would make it the franchise's biggest earner in the country (King of Monsters topped out at $135.4 million).

Imax CEO Rich Gelfond said GVK's strong showing proves there is "real business to be done for Hollywood blockbusters” in international theatrical markets. The film earned $12.4 million on Imax for the weekend on 891 screens in 40 markets worldwide. "We are particularly encouraged by the film's strong debut in China," Gelfond said, noting GVK's $9.4 million start there, which was 14 percent of the film's total China earnings despite Imax accounting for just 1 percent of screens in the market.

The movie did pandemic-best opening business in a number of other countries, including Mexico ($6.3 million). It also grossed $6.3 million in Australia to already eclipse the entire lifetime gross of King of the Monsters. Ditto for Russia ($5.8 million).

And Taiwan's opening of $5.2 million marked the second-biggest opening ever for a Warner Bros. release behind Aquaman.

India's $4.8 million debut marked the third-biggest opening for a Warners title behind Batman v Superman and The Nun.