China Box Office: ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ Makes Powerful Debut

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“Godzilla vs. Kong” made an appropriately monster start in mainland Chinese cinemas on Friday. It obliterated competing titles and stomped to the top of the local chart, putting it on course to be Hollywood’s strongest showing in the country for over a year.

Data from ticketing agency and data tracking system Maoyan showed that the film’s gross revenues (including ticketing fees) hit RMB100 million, or $15.3 million, on the stroke of 6pm local time. At that point “Godzilla vs Kong” accounted for 88.5% of the day’s aggregate box office. Maoyan shows the film enjoying 192,000 screenings on opening day, or some 54% of all available sessions.

The Adam Wingard-directed picture is produced by Legendary Entertainment, a company owned by China’s Wanda property to entertainment concern. The film is directly distributed by Legendary within China, and by Warner Bros. in the rest of the world.

Many international territories have begun to open the film this week, ahead of North America, where it releases on Wednesday March 31, 2021.

Based on a combination of ticket sales, advanced bookings and social media interest, Maoyan has forecast that “Godzilla vs. Kong” will achieve a lifetime total of RMB1.08 billion or $166 million in China. If that is achieved – and first day forecasts are subject to significant adjustment as additional real data is included – it would end up as the fourth highest grossing film of 2021 so far, behind three Chinese titles, “Hi Mom,” “Detective Chinatown 3” and “Little Red Flower.”

More significantly, that score would make “Godzilla vs. Kong” by far the top grossing Hollywood film in China since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mainland Chinese cinemas reopened in July last year, after nearly six months dark, and they have remained open, largely without interruption ever since. Seating capacity restrictions were loosened from 50% to 75% from late September and that remains the baseline for operation, although there have been some localized reductions as the virus has had minor flare-ups.

Chinese-language films have dominated the space. “Tenet” scored RMB456 million ($70.2 million). Disney/Pixar’s released at the tail end of 2020 and “Soul” grossed $58 million. “Croods 2” grossed RMB278 million (54.3 million) and “Mulan” RMB278 million ($42.8 million).

Re-release “Avatar” had grossed over $44 million by Sunday night, ten days into its re-release. On Friday, it too was crushed by “Godzilla vs. Kong.” Its market share was just 2.6%, despite having 8.7% of the day’s screening sessions.