Godzilla stomps softer than expected

As was anticipated, Godzilla: King of the Monsters ruled over the box office this weekend, but his stomp was softer than many thought it would be at $49 million, Box Office Mojo is reporting. That’s well below where tracking had it earlier, with projections indicating it could’ve reached $65 million or more.

Now, to clarify, Godzilla’s opening isn’t “terrible” by any stretch, but King of the Monsters had a hefty price tag of $170 million, something it almost certainly won’t reach stateside. Some will point out that this opening is bigger than the $44 million 1998’s Godzilla did during its debut, but that film was more than 20 years ago. In the end, King of the Monsters made respectively less than 2014’s Godzilla ($93 million) and Kong: Skull Island ($61 million).

Warner Bros. got the ball rolling for Godzilla: King of the Monsters last July with a teaser trailer attached to Mission: Impossible 6, establishing it early on as one of their major event films for this year. A more recent preview incorporating “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” into its soundtrack dazzled, and overall buzz surrounding the film appeared to be quite positive. So what killed the momentum?

The answer might be critics. Reviews for King of the Monsters were decidedly unfavorable towards the green giant’s latest movie, praising the special effects but claiming the story was stupid this time around. This is in contrast to 2014’s Godzilla and Kong: Skull Island–both of which receiving a warm welcome from the press with a certified “fresh” rating over on Rotten Tomatoes–and may have played a factor in the movie plunging after its solid Thursday preview screenings. Also worth noting is that while Godzilla himself is a household word to American audiences, his fellow monsters King Ghidorah and Mothra aren’t, and marketing for the movie failed to give them a proper introduction to western viewers.

What does this mean for next year’s Godzilla Vs. Kong? Fortunately for fans of the kaiju genre, nothing. Production has already wrapped on the film, so Warner Bros. can’t cancel it based off of disappointing returns for this outing. Plus the promise of two iconic titans like Godzilla and King Kong facing off against each other has much more box office potential. The movie is currently slated for release next March.

Meanwhile, Disney’s Aladdin continued to perform magically, with a second weekend take of $42 million. In fact, the live-action remake of the animated classic was actually ahead of Godzilla on both Saturday and Sunday, a testament to just how well it’s playing with audiences. So far, Aladdin has a stateside take of $185 million and a global bounty of $445 million, something that the Mouse House is going to be very happy about. And, as was noted last week, this is after months of so-called “negative buzz” surrounding the movie’s release, which emphasizes how little stock studios should put into such talk. Maybe Paramount didn’t need to push back the release of Sonic the Hedgehog just to change the design of its lead character after all.

Elsewhere, Avengers: Endgame made $7 million this weekend, as the superhero extravaganza is finally running out of gas. With a stateside total of $815 million, beating the $926 million take of The Force Awakens simply isn’t going to happen now, and beating the worldwide tally of Avatar is also looking unlikely. Still, Endgame has been nothing short of a global phenomenon, earning money at a speed that we have never seen before and probably won’t see again for a very long time.

Next week, Universal’s much-marketed (to the point where it feels like they’re giving the whole movie away) The Secret Life of Pets 2 opens, along with the Disney-acquired Fox film Dark Phoenix.

Final figures are due tomorrow.

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