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The Caldron

Does the Box Office Performance of Godzilla vs. Kong Show a Sign of a Theatergoing Resurgence?


Ever since the pandemic began, it has been debated whether the theatergoing industry will ever fully recover. Theaters do continue to open, but most of them are operating at limited capacity. Many of these new films are also released on streaming services the same day they debut in theaters. This new business model has had people wondering as to whether this will negatively affect ticket sales.

With the release of Godzilla vs. Kong, there is a chance that many of these doubts and concerns may be proven wrong as the months go on. The new installment in Warner Bros. and Legendary’s “MonsterVerse” grossed a pandemic-best opening of $48.5 million domestically by the end of the five day Easter weekend.

The film has now earned over $350 million internationally, becoming the highest grossing film of the pandemic era. This box office performance is even more impressive considering the film is also available to stream on HBO Max, which according to Warner Bros. had the largest viewing audience than any other title on the platform since its launch.    

“We’re thrilled that Godzilla vs. Kong is bringing audiences back into theaters where they are open around the world, and also delivering for our HBO Max subscribers in their homes here in the U.S.,” said Toby Emmerich, chairman of Warner Bros. Pictures Group.

Warner Bros. also expressed its excitement of the film’s performance with the message: “BIG MOVIES ARE BACK WITH OUR KAIJU-SIZED OPENING!”


While this impressive opening does show a sign of movie theaters making a comeback, the industry is far from being back on track. The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), the largest theater trade group in the world, stresses that while U.S. theaters have been recovering, theater markets around the world are still struggling.

A NATO spokesperson said in a statement: “We are a national and a global industry, and we need many of those markets to recover to ensure the biggest box-office potential for global hits.”

The recovery of U.S. theaters has played a big part in the film’s box office success. New York City and Los Angeles theaters, which reopened around the time of its release, were the top-grossing areas, consisting of almost 14 percent of the box office collectively.

“Without these two major entertainment hubs back online, we wouldn’t see those numbers,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a Comscore senior media analyst.

“It’d be a tougher sell to be convinced to release a huge blockbuster if New York and Los Angeles weren’t available. It’s not just about consumer confidence, it’s about studio confidence,” he added.

The rollout of COVID vaccines and the reopening of more and more theaters will hopefully give studios more confidence for their film releases. The fact that Godzilla vs. Kong has made as much money as it has despite there being a streaming option should give studios confidence.

Even though the theatergoing industry still has ways to go, Godzilla vs. Kong shows that if there is a movie that audiences really want to see, and if they are given the opportunity to see it in theaters, they will.







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