Box Office: ‘Godzilla x Kong’ Stomps Up $37 Million Opening Day

Some movie stars don’t lose their luster. A 90-year-old ape and a 69-year-old reptile are taking over domestic charts this weekend, as Warner Bros. and Legendary Entertainment’s “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” scored $37 million from 3,861 venues across opening day and preview screenings. It’s an impressive debut that puts the monster-mash well ahead of the pace that was projected earlier this week, which had pegged an opening just north of $50 million.

“The New Empire” cost a substantial sum of $135 million to produce, but it’s getting off on the right, gigantic foot. Reviews have been mediocre — a notch down from the fairly positively received “Godzilla vs. Kong” in 2021 and way below the euphoric praise that the Japanese production “Godzilla Minus One” earned just three months ago. Nonetheless, audiences aren’t being swayed. The kaiju team-up seems to be playing well to crowds, after earning an “A-” grade from research firm Cinema Score.

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Adam Wingard returns to direct “The New Empire” after helming “Godzilla vs. Kong,” with returning cast members including Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry and Kaylee Hottle alongside franchise newcomers Dan Stevens and Fala Chen. These puny human scientists and fanatics are hopping around the globe as the two eponymous monsters hop out of the Hollow Earth and form a reluctant partnership to take on some equally gigantic, humanity-threatening foes.

With a new fifth franchise installment on the block, Sony’s “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” is getting a bit iced. The supernatural action comedy will fall to second in its sophomore outing, projecting a $15.5 million gross for the three-day frame. That’d be down 65% from its solid $45 million opening and decidedly pacing behind its predecessor, the 2021 series revival “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” which fell only 45%. Now, “Afterlife” had the benefit of playing Thanksgiving frames in its second weekend — traditionally a far more busy moviegoing holiday than Easter. If “Frozen Empire” can’t regain its footing, it’ll end up well behind its predecessor’s $129 million domestic haul.

Third place looks to go to Universal’s “Kung Fu Panda 3,” in a close race with Warner Bros.’ “Dune: Part Two.” “Panda” is eyeing another $10 million in its fourth weekend to push its domestic total past $150 million. After outgrossing 2016’s “Kung Fu Panda 3” in North America, the DreamWorks Animation fourquel now seems well-positioned to surpass the $165 million domestic finish of 2010’s “Kung Fu Panda 2.” The 2008 original will likely go unchallenged though, standing mighty with $215 million.

Meanwhile, “Dune: Part Two” has now lost premium large-format auditoriums to fellow Legendary/Warner Bros. production “Godzilla x Kong.” The Denis Villeneuve-directed sci-fi sequel is still holding well though, earning $3.6 million on Friday, down just 20% from its $4.4 million haul a week ago. The feature is still the biggest hit of the year and will get to an impressive $250 million domestic this weekend.

Neon’s nun horror film “Immaculate” looks to round out the top five, with industry rivals projecting a three-day gross of $3.1 million and a 41% drop for the Sydney Sweeney shocker. It’ll soon pass $10 million domestic — a solid result for the modestly budgeted production.

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