Saturday Update: As promised, Warner Bros. is offering up daily box office reports yet again for what can thus far be described as the exhibition’s savior-to-date during the pandemic when it comes to theatrical rebounds. Godzilla vs. Kong added $11.6 million on Friday, boosting its three-day domestic start to a COVID-19-era best $27.9 million.
Yesterday’s gross marks the highest single-day box office take, and the first $10 million-plus day, for any film released in North America during the pandemic — surpassing the monster showdown’s own previous record established on Wednesday.
Despite its availability to stream on HBO Max, the film is already the third-highest grossing domestic release of 2021, and it will surpass both Tom & Jerry and Raya and the Last Dragon for first place officially on Saturday.
Friday’s intake was up an estimated 73 percent from Thursday, generally on par with the most recent high-end projections. The film’s location footprint increased by 27 percent yesterday, meaning the actual per-theater average ($3,786) increased 36 percent from Thursday ($2,781).
That boost is further indicative of some fan-driven sales as Good Friday business historically increases by larger margins, but no one is complaining in the current environment as Godzilla vs. Kong continues on a path to exceed all pre-release expectations.
If the film follows in the footsteps of average pre-Easter holds on Saturday, it could remain relatively flat with Friday’s earnings. Private Watch Parties, IMAX, and premium screen demand are robust across the board.
Again, as noted, there is some fan-led component to be cautious of when projecting at this stage even if the movie is drawing plenty of casual viewers eager to revisit movie theaters for a big popcorn event, especially in recently reopened markets like California and New York City.
Additionally, Good Friday business may be atypical this year given the handicaps of the market currently dictated by the pandemic — meaning Saturday and/or Sunday could skew stronger than usual for the holiday frame.
With those caveats in mind, weekend estimates for the Warner / Legendary epic now stand at $29 – 34 million for the Friday – Sunday portion and $44 – 50 million for the overall Wednesday – Sunday bow.
In addition to the headliner, Raya and the Last Dragon added $800K on Friday for an updated cume of $30.9 million, while Nobody took in $1.02 million to begin its sophomore frame with an eight-day haul of $9.8 million.
Sony had not yet reported opening day estimates for The Unholy at the time of this update.
Studio weekend estimates will be reported on Sunday, followed by final results on Monday.
Friday Morning Report: Warner Bros. checked in with their second confirmation of daily box office grosses as Godzilla vs. Kong tallied another $6.7 million from 2,409 locations on Thursday. With $16.3 million in the bank across its first two days, the film continues to outpace all other films released during the pandemic so far.
There are no true apples-to-apples comps as the film opened on a Wednesday and expands to 3,064 North American theaters on Friday, but the signs are clear in that it is continuing to surpass expectations. Our final weekend forecast called for a five-day bow in the $35 – 40+ million range, a target which remains likely given Thursday’s performance and the indication of strong sales throughout the weekend.
Previous forecasts were more conservative given the volatility of the market under current circumstances, but Thursday’s 30 percent decline from opening day indicates Wednesday’s initial burst wasn’t as front-loaded as fan-driven genre events tend to be.
In addition to the location count boost, Friday itself will be aided by Good Friday observances ahead of Easter Sunday. Warner Bros. notes that 76 percent of K-12 schools are out of session today, while other businesses are also closed. Friday could easily be on par with or ahead of Wednesday’s earnings, while Saturday is likely to remain generally flat with Friday business based on pre-Easter models.
The monster universe sequel previously bowed to $9.6 million on opening day Wednesday, setting a pandemic era record in the domestic market. Even with numerous restrictions still in place across the country and less than 60 percent of theaters open (including most of Canada and Regal’s venues), Godzilla vs. Kong has earned 46 percent of predecessor Godzilla: King of the Monsters‘ $35.6 million two-day start in May 2019 and 63 percent of Ready Player One‘s $26.95 million earned across Thursday and Friday during Easter weekend in 2018.
By contrast, the previous tentpole film released during the pandemic — December’s Wonder Woman 1984 — achieved just 16 percent of its 2017 predecessor’s three-day opening. That film, like Godzilla vs. Kong, bowed day-and-date in theaters and streaming for free to HBO Max subscribers.
Simply put, these numbers indicate a significant turning point in the rise of consumer confidence to return to movie theaters. The accelerated distribution of vaccines and reopening of key markets like California and New York City have played significant roles in the upward trend.
The studio highlighted demographic splits that broke out to 63 percent male, 52 percent over the age of 25, and 72 percent under the age of 35 on opening day. The film is playing diversely and particularly strong in large format theaters like IMAX where social distancing is easily accommodated. Word of mouth also appears to be flourishing early on with 95 percent audience and 79 percent critic scores on Rotten Tomatoes.
Warner Bros. has confirmed that they will provide another direct studio update on domestic box office come Saturday morning.