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Is 'Godzilla vs. King Kong' the Salvation Hollywood's Been Waiting For?

Is 'Godzilla vs. King Kong' the Salvation Hollywood's Been Waiting For?

By Friday, 09 April 2021 12:58 PM Current | Bio | Archive

As of Monday, April 5, the new Warner Brothers release "Godzilla vs. King Kong" [GvKK] has taken in over $285M at the global box office, making it the highest grossing opening weekend U.S. release since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The domestic haul of $48.5M was more than double that of last summer’s "Tenet" (also a Warner release) which has taken in $363M since August.

Prior to March of 2020 when the movie theater industry essentially shut down, a $285M opening weekend would not have been a big deal, but we now live in a different world where expectations are held in check and the major studios are unclear on exactly how to release their in-limbo titles.

With the December 2020 release of "Wonder Woman 1984," Warner announced that all of their 2021 titles would be released "day and date," meaning on-demand (on HBO Max) and theatrically at the same time. Industry opinions on this marketing approach ran the gamut from quite negative to lukewarm positive, but credit must be given to Warner for giving the consumer multiple viewing options.

This strategy didn’t turn out well for "Wonder Woman 1984." Taking in just $166M against a $200M budget, the movie was a certified flop, especially when compared to the $822M the first "Wonder Woman" released in 2017.

It’s worth noting the verification of on-line viewers is all over the place and currently only counts viewers who watch any given title for more than five minutes.

It was announced on Wednesday that “GvKK” had 3.1 million views on HBO Max over the weekend.

So, what happened with "GvKK?" Why did it fare so well? Could it be that people have grown weary of COVID-19 restrictions?

Has enough time passed to throw caution to the wind and return to the theaters?

Maybe it’s because the Godzilla and King Kong characters are so iconic.

Since 1954, Godzilla has been in 36 feature films and King Kong has appeared in 12 flicks (and three TV series) beginning in 1933.

One could argue that Wonder Woman (as a member of the DC Comics Universe) and Christopher Nolan (the director of "Tenet") has even bigger fan bases. A cash cow for Warner for over two decades, Nolan’s three "Batman" movies alone took in over $2.3B before on-demand and home video sales.

Conjecture aside, here are some cold hard facts which might indicate the success of "GvKK" has less to do with the lead characters or the movie itself and more with a world full of people fed-up with restrictions on their movement, lifestyle, and entertainment options.

The last time one of these characters showed up in a movie ("Godzilla: King of the Monsters," from 2017), it took in just over $47M on opening weekend with theaters wide open everywhere and no capacity restrictions. "GvKK" did just as much business with only 60% of all theaters open and capacities ranging between 25% and 50% on Easter weekend when most of the country was enjoying near-perfect weather.

It would be a safe assumption that the brass at Warner Brothers (and other major studios Disney, Paramount, Universal, and Sony/Columbia) is dissecting the "GvKK" box office numbers with a mix of guarded fascination, glee, and trepidation.

For well over 20 years, Hollywood’s "summer season" has started on the first weekend in March and last year it was Universal’s "The Invisible Man" coming out in late February. It pulled in $143M against a $7M budget right before the bottom fell out. Almost immediately, Sony moved the new James Bond flick ("No Time To Die") from April to November (then to April 2021, then to November 2021). Universal pushed back "F9" (the ninth “Fast and Furious”) from April 2020 to June 2021. Dozens of other high-profile, potential blockbuster titles soon followed suit.

With the exception of the horror/thriller "The Invisible Man," every film mentioned in this article is an action/adventure flick. These are movies with astronomical budgets, high-end special effects, and spectacular audio/visual components, but are generally low on plot and character development. They’re crafted to please the masses and generally deliver what their consumers want: eye and ear candy.

Over the last year, art-house titles have fared relatively well, but they (as in past years) have low returns on investment and serve mostly as awards bait. For proof, look at the nominees for Best Picture at the upcoming (April 25) Academy Awards. Only one ("Promising Young Woman") has made more than $10M and none of them can be remotely considered to be “mainstream friendly.”

The film industry is reaching critical mass and no longer has the option of further release date changes. The unlikely success of "GvKK" is the 11th hour shot in the arm that has delivered the only real glimmer of hope in over a year and the studios need to capitalize on that momentum.

We have to return to something resembling what used to be normal and the Hollywood film industry can spearhead that movement. They can save themselves and movie fans the world over at the same time. It’s time to stop messing about and get on with life.

Originally from Washington, D.C., Michael Clark has written for over 30 local and national film industry media outlets and is based in the Atlanta Top 10 media marketplace. He co-founded the Atlanta Film Critics Circle in 2017 and is a regular contributor to the Shannon Burke Show on floridamanradio.com. Over the last 25 years, Mr. Clark has written over 4,000 movie reviews and film-related articles and is one of the scant few conservative U.S. movie critics. Read Michael Clark's Reports — More Here.

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As of Monday, April 5, the new Warner Brothers release "Godzilla vs. King Kong" [GvKK] has taken in over $285M at the global box office, making it the highest grossing opening weekend U.S. release since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Movies, Entertainment, Godzilla v. Kong, Movie Review
Friday, 09 April 2021 12:58 PM
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