Warner’s event pic Godzilla made its long-awaited debut this weekend and proceeded to stomp on the competition. The Sci-Fi epic had the second biggest opening of the year so far, sandwiched between the debuts of Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Disney opened the baseball feature Million Dollar Arm as a form of counterprogramming to the Big G but ended up striking out in its fourth-place finish.
Proving that even Roland Emmerich is incapable of killing everyone’s favorite radioactive lizard, Warner/Legendary Picture’s Godzilla stormed into 3,952 theaters Thursday night to earn a spectacular $93.2 million. The monster opening for the $160 million production directed by Gareth Edwards (Monsters) and starring Bryan Cranston and Ken Watanabe exceeded even the most optimistic expectations, which had the film pegged to open at around $70 million. Months of great marketing helped turn the movie into a must-see event picture while eradicating the stench of Emmerich’s 1998 dud once and for all. Reviews on the reboot were overall on the positive side, as evidenced by the 73% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Opening night ticket buyers gave it a “B+” rating on CinemaScore.
The $93.2 million opening for Godzilla is the seventh highest opening of all time for a non-sequel, a total no doubt helped in large part to the film playing in 3D and IMAX formats. The latter format contributed a huge $14.1 million — or roughly 15% — of the opening numbers. Friday’s gross was $38.5 million (this includes the $9.3 million earned from Thursday night showings), $32.1 million on Saturday (-16%) and an estimated $22.5 million (-30%) for Sunday. Foreign totals stand at $103 million through the weekend with 64 markets counted, the biggest opening of the year globally thus far.
The 16% drop in business on Saturday could be seen as a bit of a warning sign. While part of that drop is due to longtime Godzilla fans (the Toho Studios creation is celebrating its 60th Anniversary this year) rushing out to see the film on opening day, part of it could also be the result of lukewarm word-of-mouth. Should Godzilla be the victim of toxic word of mouth, it may suffer Spider-Man levels of audience erosion and wind up just over the $200 million mark, which is still good enough for studio bragging rights but not all that great in terms of profitability. If that is the case, the studio will have to look once again to overseas markets to recoup the massive costs. Godzilla will face an equally tough foe starting this Thursday when X-Men: Days of Future Past, which is expected to earn north of $100 million over the Memorial Day weekend, arrives.
Universal’s raunchy comedy Neighbors had a solid second weekend as the Seth Rogen and Zac Efron comedy eased 47% to earn an estimated $26 million from 3,311. After ten days, Neighbors has earned a great $91.5 million and could finish near the $140 million mark, or roughly seven times its production budget. Foreign totals currently stand at $54 million.
After Seth and Zac sucker punched him last weekend down to second place, the arrival of Godzilla helped send The Amazing Spider-Man 2 reeling further down the box office ladder. Still on 3,991 screens, the superhero sequel lost another 53% of its audience to earn an estimated $16.8 million. After three weeks, Peter Parker has earned an okay $172 million and should finish just past the $200 million mark. While the domestic totals have been underwhelming, foreign totals have been another story. The film has amassed a great $461 million to date and could cross the half billion dollar mark overseas prior to the arrival of Magneto and Wolverine next weekend.
Fourth place went to Disney’s sports drama Million Dollar Arm, which underperformed with an estimated $10.5 million from 3,019 screens. The Jon Hamm-headlined flick earned so-so reviews from critics (59% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes) but received an encouraging “A-” rating from ticket buyers on CinemaScore. Aimed at the adult market, the feel-good Arm could turn into a small hit should the word-of-mouth be favorable enough.
Rounding out the top five is the Fox comedy hit The Other Woman. The comedy earned $6.5 million in its fourth weekend to bring its total to the $72 million mark. Overseas, the Cameron Diaz feature has earned a solid $66 million.
Outside the top five:
6. Heaven Is For Real (Sony) $4.4 million (-41%); $82.2 million
7. Rio 2 (Fox) $3.8 million (-24%); $118 million
8. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Disney) $3.7 million (-34%); $251 million
9. Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return (Clarius) $1.9 million (-48%); $6.5 million
10. Moms’ Night Out (Sony) $1.9 million (-56%); $7.3 million
Next weekend sees the arrival of X-Men: Days of Future Past and the Adam Sandler comedy Blended. X-Men will certainly rule the day, but will Blended have what it takes to push aside Godzilla for a second place finish? Time will tell.