Warner Bros.’ “Godzilla vs. Kong” rang up $9.6 million in opening-night box office on March 31.
That’s the best single-day performance for any movie that has opened during the pandemic, according to CNBC.
However, this is also the first big movie to benefit from widespread vaccinations — and given the varying numbers of theaters and capacity restrictions over the pandemic’s course, apples-to-apples comparisons are basically impossible.
“Godzilla vs. Kong” debuted in 2,409 cinema venues on Wednesday and will expand to 3,064 by Friday, according to CNBC. Some 500 Regal cinemas will reopen on Friday, with capacities varying per local guidelines.
“Wonder Woman 1984” had only about 1,500 theaters when it debuted this past Dec. 25.
Even the 2020 releases that did relatively well under the pandemic cloud performed far below normal standards.
For instance, Warner Bros.’ “Tenet” drew $9.35 million domestically over the full three-day Labor Day weekend, according to Comscore. (Total domestic to date is about $58 million, according to IndieWire.)
Universal estimates put the three-day domestic opening tally for DreamWorks Animation’s “The Croods: A New Age” (released in the U.S. on Nov. 3) at $9.7 million, and domestic to date is about $56 million, per IndieWire.
With movie theaters in Los Angeles and New York reopening in recent weeks, cinema chains are expressing confidence that they can return to profitability in the months ahead. But that remains to be seen, along with whether vaccinations can outpace COVID variants and case increases as states reopen and drop mask mandates.
Like all major Warner Bros. releases this year, “Godzilla vs. Kong” bowed on HBO Max simultaneously with theater release. Warner Bros. has already pulled back from the so-called “day-and-date” launch policy for 2022, striking a deal with Regal owner Cineworld in which cinemas will have a 45-day window to screen big releases before they debut on HBO Max.
But Disney recently announced that two big releases — “Black Widow” and “Cruella” — will be available for $30 rental through Disney+ on the same dates they bow in cinemas.