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Hope for movie theaters: ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ sets pandemic-best domestic opening record

King Kong grabs Godzilla by the throat.
Godzilla battles King Kong in the action adventure “Godzilla vs. Kong.”
(Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures)

A week after Warner Bros.’ international rollout of “Godzilla vs. Kong” set a new pandemic record for a Hollywood film, its North American release continued to hint at a forthcoming return to the box office with a pandemic-best opening of $48.5 million over five days since its Wednesday debut and $32.2 million this weekend, according to estimates from measurement firm Comscore.

The previous benchmark for a pandemic-era domestic opening was the debut of “Wonder Woman 1984" in December, with $16.7 million over the three-day Christmas weekend. “Godzilla vs. Kong,” which simultaneously debuted domestically in theaters and on HBO Max, played in 3,064 locations, the most since the pandemic began more than a year ago. It currently stands at $285.4 million in global receipts.

“Godzilla vs. Kong” director Adam Wingard and visual effects supervisor John “DJ” DesJardin on crafting the film’s “bombastic” kaiju battles.

“The resounding success of ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ represents an incredibly important and positive milestone both financially and symbolically for the movie industry,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at Comscore. “We are seeing that as consumer confidence grows, so too does the ability of movie theaters to generate stronger box office over time.”

Elsewhere at the box office this weekend, Sony Screen Gems’ “The Unholy” opened in 1,850 locations to $3.2 million, and Atlas Distribution’s “The Girl Who Believes in Miracles” premiered in 680 locations to $580,068.

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Although American theaters are slowly returning after a year of harried reopenings and closings, major theaters including Regal and AMC and smaller chains have not yet reopened. Last week, L.A.'s Laemmle Theatres said it would reopen six of its eight locations on April 9, including a new location opening in Santa Clarita.

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