Warner Bros/Legendary’s Godzilla Vs Kong will slug it out in 38 offshore markets this weekend beginning Wednesday in such hubs as Mexico, Taiwan, Indonesdia and India; followed by Russia, Korea and Australia among others on Thursday and China notably on Friday. The Adam Wingard-directed pic is releasing abroad ahead of domestic which falls on March 31 day-and-date in theaters and on HBO Max.
Sources are seeing GVK’s full international weekend range starting at about $70M with room to grow if China shines. This is the first major Hollywood popcorn title to hit turnstiles in several months and should it land anywhere above Tenet’s $53M international box office start, it would mark the biggest offshore debut for a studio movie in the pandemic era.
Comps during Covid still come with a big asterisk, but for reference, Godzilla: King Of The Monsters, the last entry in Legendary’s modern monster series, opened in late May/early June of 2019 and scored a $130M debut weekend in 75 overseas markets including $66M from China (all figures unadjusted).
Core fans are expected to turn up for GVK, and after Godzilla: King Of The Monsters, the addition of King Kong’s emotional hook should be an added draw. The film was originally dated for March last year but was pushed due to the pandemic — a silver lining may be that audiences are hungry for fresh product and showy spectacle while attendance in areas where it is safe to go to the movies has been growing.
In China, where Legendary is handling the release, we are hearing projections of $50M on the low end with more bullish estimates reaching to $70M+. As ever, the Middle Kingdom will be the swing market. While it has been booming of late with local fare, it will be interesting to see if the lower tier cities turn up for a non-Chinese movie and during a non-holiday period. (Japan, which has also made a great recovery, and was the No. 2 offshore market on KOTM, does not release GVK until May.)
Tracking on GVK, we hear, is very good in the Middle Kingdom, though not through the roof. The monster mash-up leads Friday-Sunday pre-sales there, with about RMB 25M ($3.8M) through early morning local time on Wednesday — although they were slow to come online, only appearing Monday March 22. We understand that’s because certificates for imports are being issued late by the Propaganda Department and exhibitors can’t pre-sell until those permits are delivered; this is skewing the usual metrics, but the “want to see” factor is enjoying daily increases.
As we noted on Sunday, a recent worry regarding China has been soft uptake of new Hollywood movies. Four Chinese titles were in the Top 10 of 2020 worldwide and seven populate this year’s running chart (with all grosses essentially from China alone), but the only movies from Hollywood to make even a slight dent in the Middle Kingdom post-reopenings are Tenet ($66.6M cume), Soul ($57.9M), The Croods: A New Age ($53.7M) and the ongoing reissue of Avatar ($44M+). Wonder Woman 1984 and Mulan both severely underperformed and there’s concern about an overall rejection of American commercial product.
GVK’s China marketing did not include the usual physical mall tours, but digital and outdoor marketing are part of the campaign as well as special fan events in Tier 2 and 3 cities. Talent is still not traveling to China, however, and not having stars in the country talking about the emotional component, even on a big popcorn title, presents a potential challenge.
On KOTM, China ultimately led all play, followed by Japan, Mexico, the UK and Taiwan with Indonesia also among key hubs. Of those, the markets opening this weekend should be among the leaders, as well as Russia. Asian major Korea is not a big monster market. Although it appreciated 2017’s Kong: Skull Island, KOTM was a non-starter there, also facing off with eventual Best Picture Oscar winner Parasite at the time.
Europe overall was pretty meh on KOTM, but the major markets, save Spain, don’t factor this weekend as cinemas are still shuttered in the UK, France, Germany and Italy.
GVK stars Alexander Skarsgard, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Shun Oguri, Kyle Chandler and Demian Bechir among others. The logline reads: “Legends collide as these mythic adversaries meet in a spectacular battle for the ages, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. Kong and his protectors undertake a perilous journey to find his true home, and with them is Jia (Kaylee Hottle), a young orphaned girl with whom he has formed a unique and powerful bond. But they unexpectedly find themselves in the path of an enraged Godzilla, cutting a swath of destruction across the globe. The epic clash between the two titans — instigated by unseen forces — is only the beginning of the mystery that lies deep within the core of the earth.”
Depending on reviews and word of mouth, the beasts could have some legs given a lack of upcoming competition. The first major studio movies set for release (now that Black Widow has moved to July) are Disney’s Cruella and Paramount’s A Quiet Place Part II in late May.
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