Weekend Box Office (April 2 - 4, 2021)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Moviegoing soared to its highest point ever during the pandemic as the monster mashup tentpole Godzilla vs Kong attacked the North American box office delivering the kind of record-breaking numbers not seen in over a year. Industry expectations were demolished and audiences showed they will come back out to cinemas for event films which excite them.

Warner Bros. scored a huge win with GvK which opened to $31.7M over the Friday-to-Sunday Easter frame and an incredible $48M during its five-day start which kicked off with Wednesday's opening day. Playing in 3,064 locations, the PG-13 pic averaged a terrific $10,346 per theater over the weekend with the five-day average at a stellar $17,112. After only five days in theaters it's already the third biggest domestic grosser of the entire pandemic after Tenet and The Croods: A New Age. We haven't seen attendance like this in over a year.

These are just phenomenal numbers during a pandemic since some parts of the US and most parts of Canada are still closed, plus most open theaters having seating capacity limits. Then add in the fact that subscribers to the HBO Max streaming service could watch the film at home for no additional cost, and it's easy to see that the monsters attracted an amazing turnout given the current circumstances. The Premium VOD release in Canada made about $3M this weekend.

New pandemic box office records were set by Godzilla vs Kong in North America. It was by far the biggest opening weekend during this time beating out the $16.7M of Wonder Woman 1984 over Christmas weekend. Of course, the $48M five-day tally was also the best ever for any extended pandemic opening crushing the $14.2M five-day Thanksgiving launch for Croods and the $20.2M start for Tenet which included 8 days in the US + 12 days in Canada. The $9.6M Wednesday was the biggest opening day ever in the pandemic passing the $7M+ Christmas Day Friday bow for WW84. Saturday's $12.5M was the largest gross in a single day.

It was the widest release of any film and the first movie to break the 3,000-theater mark. The prior record for widest opening was the studio's own Tenet which bowed in 2,810 sites and maxed out at 2,930 two weeks later. With both New York City and Los Angeles reopening movie theaters in recent weeks, the US box office has taken a big step back towards normalcy, plus Regal finally started reopening some of its cinemas too this week adding to the market potential for all films.

GvK didn't stop there, it also posted the largest opening weekend average of the pandemic surpassing the $7,764 for WW84. Overall it accounted for a whopping 74% of all ticket sales for the top ten movies this weekend. Reviews were very encouraging for a sci-fi sequel and the A grade from CinemaScore was the best ever for the franchise so critics and moviegoers alike were putting their opposable thumbs up.

The opening day audience for GvK was 63% male and 37% female which was no surprise. A very multicultural crowd came out with the breakdown at: 33% White, 27% Latino, 23% Black, 10% Asian, and 7% Native America/Other. Reviews were especially good for a franchise actioner like this and moviegoers had a blast as the film earned a solid A grade from CinemaScore - the highest of the whole four-film series. Plenty of ticket buyers wanted that supercharged experience with 9.3% of the five-day gross coming from IMAX screens. Other premium large format screens and full auditorium pod rentals contributed as well to the record haul.

With strong word of mouth and no competition for weeks, the Warners hit looks to quickly become the highest grossing film of the whole pandemic in North America as it very well may pass the $58.5M of the studio's Tenet by this Friday after only ten days of play. Hitting the $100M mark seems possible redefining what potential event movies have at today's box office.

Godzilla vs Kong is surely working wonders as a popcorn movie and as fun escapism at a time when people are desperately in need of it. Covid case numbers are still bad in America, however vaccinations are moving ahead quickly, stimulus money has been disbursed, weather is getting better, and more people are willing to spend on giving themselves a good time.

Also quite impressive is the fact that GvK's $48M five-day debut matched up almost exactly with the $47.8M three-day opening weekend of the last film in this Monsterverse franchise - 2019's Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Sure one gross has two more days in it, but it also has the limitations of a launch during a pandemic, a streaming release, and one thousand fewer theaters. KOTM underperformed two years ago tumbling 68% in the sophomore frame and casting some doubt on the series, but the new Godzilla delivered the goods, pleased those crowds, and could have a bright road ahead.

Wildly successful in every way, Godzilla vs Kong has proven that the right product will pull large crowds back into the multiplexes. Despite the home entertainment market booming during the pandemic with more choices than ever before, a substantial number of movie fans want to leave the home and experience the fun of seeing a tentpole movie up on the big screen with a socially distant crowd of other fans. At the very least, this bodes well for upcoming action and franchise titles coming up including Mortal Kombat on April 23, A Quiet Place Part II on May 28, F9 on June 25, Top Gun: Maverick on July 2, and Black Widow on July 9.

With its international launch a week earlier in much of the world, GvK pulled in $71.1M overseas this weekend dropping an encouraging 39% in its second weekend. That's a good hold. The offshore cume has soared to $237.3M led by China's fantastic $136.5M putting the global take at $285.3M and rising fast. The monster hit is just a week away from zooming past the $364M of Tenet to become Hollywood's biggest hit during the pandemic. It even has the potential to break the $500M mark by the end of the run opening the door for more potential blockbusters throughout the coming year. The four-film Monsterverse has now collectively grossed an impressive $1.77 billion worldwide.

Sony's religious-themed fright film The Unholy used Easter weekend as its launchpad and bowed to an estimated $3.2M from 1,850 locations this weekend for a $1,730 average. Reviews were generally negative for the PG-13 thriller.

The revenge thriller Nobody opened big last weekend, but took a beating in its second round tumbling 55% to an estimated $3.1M. Still, Universal has collected $11.9M in ten days - solid numbers during this pandemic. Hefty incoming competition affected the Bob Odenkirk pic this weekend.

Disney witnessed a 45% decline for its toon Raya and the Last Dragon which grossed an estimated $2.1M in its fifth weekend as the animated adventure became available for digital purchase at home for those who are not Disney+ subscribers. The price remains $30. Raya has banked $32.2M to date from North America and compared to other recent kidpics at the same point, it's running 13% behind Tom and Jerry but 10% ahead of The Croods: A New Age. Dragon has grossed nearly $60M from overseas markets and about $90M globally.

Dropping a similar 46% was Tom & Jerry which took in an estimated $1.4M in its sixth frame. Warners has banked $39.5M to date domestically plus $54M from international markets for a $93.5M worldwide tally. The faith-based family drama The Girl Who Believes in Miracles debuted in sixth place with an estimated $540,000 from 640 locations for a $844 average. Atlas distributed the PG-rated film.

Benedict Cumberbatch's The Courier declined by 57% to an estimated $452,000 giving Roadside Attractions $4.3M overall. The poorly-reviewed sci-fi film Chaos Walking followed with an estimated $380,000, down a sharp 69%, for a cume of $12.2M thus far for Lionsgate.

The pandemic's top toon The Croods: A New Age was next with an estimated $210,000 in its 19th weekend. DreamWorks Animation's hit fell 62% and raised its domestic sum up to $56.3M. Just as it finally approaches the total of Tenet, Godzilla vs Kong will race past both films in total North American box office in the coming days. Rounding out the top ten was the arthouse film French Exit which expanded to 483 locations grossing an estimated $193,000 for a $400 average. The Sony Classics title has $201,000 to date.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $44M this weekend - another new pandemic record. The box office was mostly shutdown a year ago, but the figure was down 68% from 2019 when Shazam opened in the top spot with $53.5M.

Get earlier box office updates and analysis by following BoxOfficeGuru.com on Twitter.

# Title Apr 2 - 4 Mar 26 - 28 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Godzilla vs Kong $ 31,700,000 3,064 1 $ 10,346 $ 48,000,000 Warner Bros.
2 The Unholy 3,200,000 1,850 1 1,730 3,200,000 Sony
3 Nobody 3,000,000 6,820,000 -56.0 2,567 2 1,169 11,804,000 Universal
4 Raya and the Last Dragon 2,039,116 3,763,630 -45.8 2,031 5 1,004 32,172,036 Disney
5 Tom & Jerry 1,300,000 2,625,000 -50.5 2,273 6 572 39,400,000 Warner Bros.
6 The Girl Who Believes in Miracles 546,000 640 1 853 546,000 Atlas
7 The Courier (est) 448,718 1,050,958 -57.3 1,322 3 339 4,254,384 Roadside Attr.
8 Chaos Walking 369,377 1,208,710 -69.4 1,605 5 230 12,222,445 Lionsgate
9 The Croods: A New Age 225,000 550,000 -59.1 1,212 19 186 56,360,000 Universal
10 French Exit 174,000 483 8 360 181,000 Sony Classics
Top 5 $ 41,239,116 $ 15,468,298 166.6
Top 10 43,002,211 17,245,701 149.4
Top 10 vs. 2020 43,002,211 <shutdown>
Top 10 vs. 2019 43,002,211 137,908,217 -68.8
Below the Top 10:
The Marksman 153,880 360,403 -57.3 461 12 334 15,024,012 Open Road
Wonder Woman 1984 136,000 265,000 -48.7 1,011 15 135 46,108,000 Warner Bros.
Minari 125,000 275,000 -54.5 912 8 137 2,095,000 A24
Boogie 115,000 327,000 -64.8 603 5 191 4,060,000 Focus
The Little Things 110,000 145,000 -24.1 326 10 337 15,058,000 Warner Bros.
Promising Young Woman 85,000 130,000 -34.6 605 15 140 6,105,000 Focus

Last Updated: April 9, 2021 at 3:00PM ET

©1997 - 2021 Box Office Guru