While all of the movies released thus far as part of the MonsterVerse have been successful, the truth is that they haven't really been what one might call "super" successful. They are profitable, and have mostly received positive reviews, but in the age of the billion-dollar blockbuster it doesn't look fantastic that the worldwide earnings for Gareth Edwards' Godzilla, Jordan Vogt-Roberts' Kong: Skull Island, and Michael Dougherty's Godzilla: King Of The Monsters combine for a grand total of only $1.5 billion.
All that being said, the franchise capstone, Adam Wingard's Godzilla vs. Kong, was released last week, and thanks to what could be described as a perfect storm at the box office it has managed to become a massive hit (by pandemic standards, at least)
Godzilla vs. Kong set itself up with an extended opening weekend, arriving in theaters and on HBO Max simultaneously last Wednesday, March 31, and five days later the film can celebrate the fact that it successfully sold a fantastic number of tickets. Per The Hollywood Reporter, it looks like the MonsterVerse film is going to rake in $48.5 million from the big screen – far and away the best performance by a movie in the past year.
Basically, it seems that what the monster blockbuster has done is successfully do what Christopher Nolan tried to accomplish preemptively last summer with Tenet. Released over the Labor Day 2020 weekend, the time bending action film only managed to pull in $20 million, and the numbers trailed off because the market wasn't ready. Now things are looking far more optimistic, and Godzilla vs. Kong is succeeding as a result – and it's likely that we will see that (admittedly relative) success continue through at least early April.
Obviously a major boon for the MonsterVerse film is the fact that some of the biggest movie markets in the world are now available. With the exception of drive-ins, Los Angeles and New York were shut down for months and months, but both had locations opened with limited capacity for Godzilla vs. Kong, and they made a huge impact, with Exhibitor Relations saying that the two cities saw the biggest response to the release. In the last three days, the kaiju feature has been playing in 3,064 theaters.
Another interesting statistic to consider in all of this is the demand from audiences to try and see Godzilla vs. Kong on the biggest screen available. IMAX has officially said that over 1,000 screenings have been sold out across North America, and that $4.5 million of the revenue domestically comes from their locations (a.k.a. just short of 10 percent). That's a particularly interesting aspect of these results when you consider the day-and-date release model that Warner Bros. crafted for the blockbuster. There have been concerns for months that the convenience of being able to stream the movie on HBO Max would drain interest in seeing it on the big screen – but the numbers hardly reflect any kind of devastating impact. It's true that it is hard to fully gauge how things played out due to A) the secrecy surrounding streaming numbers, and B) the on-going pandemic, but what we are seeing here suggests that people aren't always going to make the lazy choice, and authentically enjoy the experience of seeing a film in a theater (which to me seems like a situation where the word "duh" can be aptly applied, but here we are).
Additionally, it's not just domestically where the movie is proving to be extremely popular. The $48.5 million that Godzilla vs. Kong made over the last five days ($32.2 million from Friday to Sunday) seems like a hell of a lot when you compare it to the $6.8 million that Ilya Naishuller's Nobody made one week earlier, but it's a small potatoes compared to the haul from overseas. Thanks to also being released one week earlier internationally, the blockbuster to date as made $236.9 million, which brings the movie's global total to $285.4 million. When you consider the fact that Godzilla: King Of The Monsters only made $386.6 million worldwide when it came out in pre-pandemic 2019, you really start to understand just how well Adam Wingard's blockbuster is doing.
There is a very real possibility that Godzilla vs. Kong will become the first movie to make $100 million domestically since the start of the pandemic, which would be a beautiful sign that the industry is finally making a comeback after an extremely dark year. It may not be something that happens until the latter half of April (Warner Bros. has actually pushed back Simon McQuoid's Mortal Kombat by a week to give it more breathing room), but people around the world may hear a collective exhale from Hollywood if and when it does).
So what does this mean for the future of the MonsterVerse? That seems like a million dollar question that doesn't have a firm answer quite yet. Legendary and Warner Bros. have been preparing for the clash of Godzilla and King Kong since 2015, with Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla: King Of The Monsters in part designed to set up the blockbuster, but the studios have never really said anything about what would be happening post-Godzilla vs. Kong. There have been some suggestions, such as Pacific Rim: Uprising director Steven DeKnight saying that his goal for Pacific Rim 3 would have been an attempt at marrying the franchises, but no projects have been announced as being in development.
This circumstance is understandable when you consider the information at the top of this article. Given that the franchise has never been excessively popular, it's entirely possible that Warner Bros. and Legendary were getting ready to close the book on the MonsterVerse with Godzilla vs. Kong as the final chapter. But are things different enough now to keep that book open? There's no denying that the new film is popular, but an aspect of the success that needs to be examined is the hunger that people have to see any blockbuster on the big screen right now after being deprived of the experience for months.
Regardless of what the future holds, there is a lot to be excited about with the box office numbers put up by Godzilla vs. Kong, and hopefully that success will continue in the coming weeks.