Weekend Box Office: 'Kong: Skull Island' Scales $61M for No. 1 Finish

KONG: SKULL ISLAND - Still -KONG roaring - Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

2016's Kong: Skull Island

Overseas, the reboot debuts to $81.6 million for a global bow of $142.6 million; 'Logan' falls to No. 2 as it races past $150 million in the U.S. and $430 million worldwide.

Warner Bros. and Legendary's Kong: Skull Island roared louder than expected in its North American box-office debut, scaling $61 million from 3,846 theaters to top Wolverine threequel Logan.

Kong: Skull Island hopes to restore the world's most famous ape to glory and build a new film franchise, with a Kong v. Godzilla  installment already in the works. The one major caveat: The movie, costing at least $185 million to make before a major marketing spend, will likely need to earn $500 million globally to land in the black.

Overseas, Kong: Skull Island opened to $81.6 million from 65 markets — minus China, where it hits theaters March 24 — for a global bow of $142.6 million. It came in No. 1 almost everywhere and scored the biggest opening of all time in Vietnam ($2.2 million), where chaos ensued at the pic's premiere late last week after a huge model of the primate outside the theater caught on fire.

Heading into the weekend, the male-fueled Kong: Skull Island was expected to earn $45 million-$50 million in the U.S.. Crossing the $60 million threshold is no doubt a big relief for Warners and Legendary. The pic is the second title in their monster universe after Godzilla, which debuted to $93 million in May 2014. That film ultimately earned $529 million worldwide against a production budget of $160 million.

"On these kind of movies that have big Fridays, you would expect to be down on Saturday. We were up 19 percent," said Warners president of domestic distribution Jeff Goldstein. "We ended up in a fantastic place compared to where we thought we would be. The marketing came together in a huge way."

Kong: Skull Island is the first Hollywood studio movie featuring the iconic ape since Peter Jackson's 2005 King Kong, which opened to $50 million. (Jackson's film was infamous for costing north of $200 million.) The new pic garnered strong reviews for a 78 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes; audiences were less keen, awarding it a B+ CinemaScore.

This time out, the story takes place entirely on the island where the legendary animal resides, alongside a bevy of other oversized creatures, and 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. Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts in his first studio assignment, the film's ensemble cast includes Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson and John Goodman.

Kong: Skull Island faces the challenge of being sandwiched between Logan — which debuted to a rousing $88.3 million domestically and nearly $250 million worldwide a week ago, far ahead of expectations — and Disney's Beauty and the Beast, which opens around the globe on March 17. In particular, the Kong team didn't expect Logan to have such sharp claws (both tentpoles are competing for males). Like Logan, Kong: Skull Island did big business in Imax theaters: $7.6 million in North America and $12.4 million worldwide.

Falling to No. 2, Logan grossed an estimated $37.9 million for a decline of 57 percent, a good showing for a fanboy-driven title. The R-rated movie, which cost just under $100 million to produce, has earned nearly $152.7 million domestically and $285 million overseas for a stellar $437.7 million global cume.

Logan's weekend foreign take of $70 million wasn't that far behind Kong. Logan has the advantage of a China berth, where it has scored $87.6 million in its first two weekends.

Kong: Skull Island's international bow exceeded Godzilla's in many markets. The U.K. led with $7.6 million (17 percent ahead of Godzilla), followed by South Korea ($7.4 million), Russia ($60 million) and Mexico ($5.6 million).

Jordan Peele's Get Out continued to scare up strong business for Universal and Blumhouse Productions domestically, placing No. 3 with an impressive $21 million in its third weekend and crossing the $100 million mark for a total $111.1 million through Sunday. The maverick horror film cost under $5 million to make.

Lionsgate's faith-based title The Shack, starring Octavia Spencer and Sam Worthington, landed at No. 4 in its second weekend, dipping 38 percent to $10.1 million for a domestic total of $32.3 million.

Warners' The Lego Batman Movie rounded out the top five with $7.8 million in its fifth weekend for $159 million domestically and $275.5 million worldwide.

Among new offerings at the specialty box office, IFC's Personal Shopper, directed by French filmmaker Olivier Assayas and starring Kristen Stewart, debuted to $92,516 from four theaters in New York and Los Angeles for a screen average of $23,129, the best of the weekend for any title.

Raw, a French horror film about cannibalism that premiered at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, as did Personal Shopper, opened in two theaters, grossing $25,230 for an location average of $12,615.

Ritesh Batra's The Sense of an Ending, starring Charlotte Rampling and Jim Broadbent, also debuted in four cinemas in New York and Los Angeles, earning $42,000 for a theater average of $10,500 for CBS Films.

The latest documentary to take on the Church of Scientology didn't fare so well. My Scientology Movie, from BBC journalist Louis Theroux, took in $10,568 at ArcLight Hollywood — which isn't far from the church's Hollywood outpost and celebrity center — for a disappointing average of $5,284.

Among other prestige titles, A24's Moonlight fell to $1 million from 987 locations after scoring the top number of its run ($2.3 million) a week ago from 1,564 theaters on the heels of its best picture Oscar win. The drop-off in earnings and theater count isn't surprising, given the film is already available on home entertainment. To date, Moonlight's theatrical cume stands at $27 million.

March 12, 10:30 a.m. Updated with foreign numbers.

Weekend Box Office 3/12/17

Source: comScore
Weekend Cume Theaters Week
1. Kong: Skull Island $61.0M $61.0M 3,846 1
2. Logan $38.1M $152.9M 4,071 2
3. Get Out $20.7M $110.7M 3,143 3
4. The Shack $10.0M $32.2M 2,888 2
5. The Lego Batman Movie $7.6M $158.8M 3,303 5
6. Before I Fall $3.0M $8.9M 2,346 2
7. Hidden Figures $2.8M $162.9M 1,421 12
8. John Wick: Chapter Two $2.7M $87.4M 2,031 5
9. MET Opera: La Traviata $1.8M $1.8M N/A 1
10. La La Land $1.8M $148.4M 1,578 14