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The movie business has spent more than a year on its heels. Theaters have been closed and major releases have been delayed. The entire industry has been waiting to see when things would start to really shift towards getting better, and while it's tough to say for sure, the best evidence yet that things might be starting to return to normal has arrived in the box office response to Godzilla vs. Kong. The massive monster showdown had a solid box office debut both domestically and around the world, and director Adam Wingard is thankful for what this means both for his film and the theatrical experience overall.
Over the first five days of Godzilla vs. Kong's release the movie brought in nearly $50 million domestically with a global take of just under $300 million. Those are some pretty solid numbers, especially considering that some significant number of people watched the movie on HBO Max who very likely, under other circumstances, would have gone to the theater. Director Adam Wingard posted a big thank you to fans on social media, not just for his movie doing well but he seems even more focused on what this means for theatrical distribution. As he put it,
Wow...I am so deeply moved and honored that my film is contributing to the return to theaters. The fact that Godzilla Vs Kong is simultaneously available on Hbo Max and we still saw such huge numbers in the cinemas is the ultimate vote by the people that we will never let the theatrical experience die.
Godzilla vs. Kong's $48.5 million domestic opening covers the first five days of its release. It is lower than the other movies in the MonsterVerse franchise, but considering the 1-2 punch of the HBO Max option and the fact that many are likely still unsure about theaters, the number is quite impressive under the circumstances.
Godzilla Vs. Kong is currently available on HBO Max. You can use this link to sign up for the streaming service.
A movie like Godzilla vs. Kong is exactly the sort of film that massive movie screens were made for. The box office numbers show that not only did people want to see this specific movie on a big screen, but a significant number of people were also confident enough to return to theaters. That's really the bigger item of note here. Whether it was this movie specifically, or just a general confidence in going back to the theater and this film came along at the right time, it seems clear that theaters are not dead.
Warner Bros. hedged its bets on Godzilla vs. Kong by putting the movie on HBO Max but it seems that many people were more than willing to visit the theater even though the other option was available to them. This is good news for the studio as a whole, as every other movie released by the studio this year, with the possible exception of Dune, will be getting the same treatment. Disney has also decided, following numerous delays, to release Black Widow both in theaters and on Disney+, but with a premium price tag attached.