'Kong' conquers 'Logan' at the box office

In the box office war among beasts, Wolverine, in his second week, was no match for the return of King Kong.

“Kong: Skull Island,” from Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, pulled in an estimated $61 million in the U.S. and Canada. The film performed well above analyst expectations of $45 million to $50 million. It also brought in a massive $81.6 million internationally.

“We’re thrilled, happy and really excited by this tremendous result,” said Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros.’ distribution chief.

About a group of explorers who embark onto an uncharted island that turns out to be Kong’s domain, “Skull Island” is a reboot of the 84-year-old piece of Hollywood history known all too well by audiences. It comes a decade after Peter Jackson brought “King Kong” back to the big screen for Universal Pictures.

The popcorn flick has been received well by critics and audiences alike. With a respectable B-plus CinemaScore from moviegoers (56% male; 35% younger than 25), it holds a 78% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The new film, which was directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts and stars Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson and Brie Larson, is the second installment in the studios’ planned series of monster films that started with Gareth Edwards’ “Godzilla” in 2014. The studios are planning a “Godzilla” sequel for 2019, and a “Godzilla vs. Kong” mashup for 2020, in what the companies have dubbed their MonsterVerse, a play on the so-called cinematic universes that have bolstered the finances of Disney’s Marvel Studios and Warner’s DC Entertainment.

Although “Skull Island” didn’t come anywhere close to “Godzilla’s” $93-million debut three years ago, it does still have the potential to match the latter film’s final gross total of $200 million in the U.S. and Canada, plus $328 million from other countries. The new picture did best Jackson’s “King Kong’s” $50-million opening from 2005. That picture went on to nab $218 million in domestic receipts and $332 million internationally.

WB and Legendary are hoping the international front will carry “Skull Island,” with its $185-million price tag, further. Its $81.6-million international take thus far, from 65 countries, is a good sign. The flick opens March 24 in China, where it has an advantage in the second-largest film market; Legendary Entertainment is owned by Chinese cinema owner Dalian Wanda Group, and China’s Tencent Pictures also had a hand in the film’s production.

“Skull Island” will continue to benefit in the coming weeks, Goldstein said, from students being out on spring break, a demographic that gave the film an A CinemaScore.

“Kong is king,” he said. “He just looks fantastic on screen.”

Landing in second place for the weekend was 20th Century Fox’s “Logan.” After a better-than-expected $88-million debut last weekend, Hugh Jackman’s acclaimed final outing as the claw-wielding X-Men mutant took in $37.9 million, crossing the $150-million mark domestically.

In third was Universal Pictures and Blumhouse Productions’ socially conscious thriller “Get Out,” pulling $21.1 million in its third week. The film written and directed by Jordan Peele has taken in $111.1 million to date.

Lionsgate’s “The Shack” took fourth place in its second week with $10.1 million. Its domestic gross to date is $32.3 million.

Rounding out the top five at the box office was WB’s “The Lego Batman Movie.” The animated picture added another $7.8 million in its fifth week. It’s brought in a domestic total of $159 million to date.

On the limited release front, IFC Film’s “Personal Shopper” opened in four theaters to $92,516, a per-location average of $23,129. The film, which revolves around a ghost story that takes place in the fashion underworld of Paris, stars Kristen Stewart and was written and directed by Olivier Assayas.

CBS Films’ “The Sense of Ending” also opened in four locations. Directed by Ritesh Batra and starring Jim Broadbent, Harriet Walter and Michelle Dockery, it earned $42,000 for a per-theater average of $10,500.

Focus World’s “Raw” opened in two locations at $25,230. That’s a per-screen average of $12,615 for the film about a vegetarian who’s forced into a carnivorous hazing ritual at vet school.

Next week, the much-anticipated “Beauty and the Beast “ live-action film from Disney finally debuts. It will face BH Tilt’s thriller “The Belko Experiment.”

Get your life! Follow me on Twitter (@TrevellAnderson) or email me: trevell.anderson@latimes.com.


UPDATES:

9:25 a.m.: This article was updated with studio comment and limited release box office numbers.

This article was originally published at 8:45 a.m.

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