The arrival of Kong: Skull Island in U.S. theaters marked one of the first big-budget box office battles of 2017. The latest reboot of the iconic King Kong franchise has a lot riding on it, as it is expected to lead into a new monster movie franchise featuring Kong and Godzilla. However, Skull Island had James Mangold’s Logan standing in its way.
Kong: Skull Island, which pits stars Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, and Brie Larson against the titular ape and many other monsters, was reportedly made for $185 million. So even with a big opening weekend, the film would have a long way to go for Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. to deem the film a commercial success. But the latest box office figures are in, and Skull Island is off to a rousing start.
As reported by Variety, Kong: Skull Island reeled in a $61 million domestic total in its opening weekend. The number smashed estimates that it would earn in the range of $45-50 million. By comparison, 2014’s Godzilla grossed $93.2 million in its first weekend in the U.S. as the first film in Legendary’s planned “MonsterVerse.” Logan finished in second place over the weekend with $37.8 million.
Because of Kong: Skull Island’s substantial production budget and marketing costs, Variety estimates that the film would need to be a huge hit overseas and earn about $500 million worldwide to be considered a commercial success. The report also warns of the looming March 17 release of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, which is projected to earn as much as a whopping $120 million in its opening weekend.
Rounding out the top five at the box office are Universal’s Get Out with $21.1 million, Lionsgate’s The Shack with $10.1 million, and Warner Bros.’ The LEGO Batman Movie with $7.8 million. But this weekend was all about King Kong, as the giant ape once again proved that he still has plenty of drawing power as a cinematic monster. It surely didn’t hurt that Kong: Skull Island also garnered largely positive reviews, praising its action, visuals and war film aesthetic.
Of course, a big debut doesn’t necessarily mean a big overall performance. As mentioned in Variety’s report, Skull Island still needs to recoup about $500 million in costs. Either way, Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. made a massive bet on the “MonsterVerse,” and much of the franchise’s future hinges on Skull Island sustaining its success. The future of Kong: Skull Island at the box office will become clearer when the worldwide box office figures come out – but it certainly stands among the best Kong movies, and $61 million in the U.S. is a strong start.