‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’ Can’t Ignite Box Office; ‘Ma’ Exceeds Expectations

by Nick Banks

Every Toho fan worth their salt knows that Godzilla has atomic breath, but even the King of Monsters couldn’t ignite the box office this week, finishing with a disappointing $49 million.

A first place finish at the box office is usually cause for celebration, but when you enter the battle with expectations as tall as a skyscraper, you had better deliver on the hype.  Unfortunately, the results look even worse when compared to 2014’s Godzilla which delivered almost double the amount of the sequel during its first weekend with over $93 million.  As a set up for 2020’s Godzilla vs. Kong showdown, the underwhelming return must have some studio executives more than a little worried at this point.

While Warner Brothers is sure to crow about the first place victory, it will most likely prove to be short-lived, with a slew of films such as Dark Phoenix and Men in Black International targeting the same audience over the next two weeks.  Godzilla may even be lucky to finish just north of $100 million domestically, counting on international returns to account for any potential profit (it has made $130 million overseas so far) from the heavily marketed $170 million dollar film.

Reviews certainly played a part in the film’s lackluster box office results, as Godzilla: King of the Monsters only garnered a 39% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a fair B+ audience rating via Cinemascore.

While the “thunder-lizard” had a hard time meeting lofty expectations, Universal’s Ma delivered a solid opening on 1,300 less screens than Godzilla with a $18.3 million debut.  The low-budget (a reported $5 million in production costs) fright-fest anchored by Octavia Spencer performed better with critics (62% on Rotten Tomatoes) but wasn’t embraced by ticket buyers, with a mediocre B- Cinemascore.  Just like Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Ma will certainly drop quickly in the top ten, but then again, the profit margin is much easier to surpass in Ma’s case.

Speaking of dropping out of the sky, last weekend’s Brightburn fell like a super lead balloon, earning only $2.3 million in its second weekend (a 70.5% drop).  Brightburn should make a meager profit for Sony (it has made $24 million worldwide so far on a $6 million dollar budget), but the “superboy-gone-bad” tale is sure to exit theaters by next week.

Be sure to come back next week for more information about the wins and loses at the weekend box office.

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