What do you do when a 350-feet tall monster emerges from the depths of the ocean and bellows in one of the most terrifying voices you have ever heard? You do nothing. You just stand and watch in awe, transfixed at the enormity of the sight in front of you. That is what has happened over the weekend with the release of Godzilla in North America and some more markets across the globe. The other movies just stood by and watched. Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla raked in an impressive figure of $93.2 million in North America alone over the first three days. That is just a little below the $95.0 million opening of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and just a little better than the $91.6 million opening of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Godzilla though has been made on a production budget of $160 million, which is a bit lower than Cap’s budget and much lower than Spidey’s. Unlike the other two films, Godzilla does not have a Hollywood franchise to benefit from, with the previous movie version on this “monster” having released sixteen years back. That makes this strong opening look even better. Even when it comes to the critics’ reviews, Godzilla lies somewhere in between the two with a Rottentomatoes score of 73% which is better than the 53% score of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 while poorer than the 89% of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
How does the film compare with the 1998 version? Well, Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla was considered a commercial success in those days despite the criticism from fans of the Japanese franchise and the critics. The 1998 Godzilla was made on a budget of $130 million, and while it did end up as the third-biggest film of that year in terms of worldwide gross ($379 million), it was not too well received in North America, opening with $44 million and eventually earning only $136 million in the domestic market. 2014’s Godzilla will easily eclipse these numbers; apart from the behemoth opening in the domestic market, it has also earned $103 million from the foreign markets, and with a release in China and Japan yet to come, this monster is expected to create a lot of havoc in a good way for production house Legendary Pictures and distributors Warner Bros.
Only one film tried to be brave enough to take on the King of the Monsters over the weekend, but the attempt got crushed for the baseball biopic Million Dollar Arm. While made on a modest production budget of $25 million, the film’s domestic opening weekend earnings of $10.5 million is still not good enough to bring any sort of cheer. In hindsight, it does seem a rather poor choice of dates by Disney, releasing the film in the summer period against one of the most heavily anticipated movies of the year. Last year’s successful baseball movie 42 had released in April while the much loved Moneyball had come out in August in 2011. None of them had such a monstrous film to beat too. Having said that, release dates is one point of contention, the quality of the film is the other. Both 42 and Moneyball are excellent biopics which have been lavished with praises. Million Dollar Arm meanwhile is a good-hearted attempt to tell the story of two Indians who become baseball pitchers in the MLB, though the movie does not carry with it the intensity of the more famous baseball movies. A 60% score on Rottentomatoes is an indication that things haven’t gone completely right for the movie. And it seems to be turning into a bad year so far for sports flicks, with Million Dollar Arm following the April disappointment Draft Day.
Beyond the new releases, Neighbors continue their wild party, monster or no monster. A 47% drop on its second weekend is not bad at all, and the movie has so far grossed $146 million worldwide, of which $92 million has come from North America in ten days. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 continues to thrill the global audience, and has earned $461 million in foreign markets already ($633 million worldwide), which means it is only a matter of time before it surpasses the $490 million foreign market earnings of its predecessor. And a final comment on Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which crossed $250 million in North America and $700 million mark worldwide, making it the first Hollywood movie of the year to do so. Nothing less that the Cap deserved!
And now, less than a week to go, before the mutants come over to battle the giant King of the Monsters. Let them fight!
Here are the top 5 weekend earners at the US box-office (estimates):
1. Godzilla ($93.2 million)
2. Neighbors ($26.0 million; second weekend)
3. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ($16.8 million; third weekend)
4. Million Dollar Arm ($10.5 million)
5. The Other Woman ($6.3 million; fourth weekend)