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‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’ Is No. 1 at the Box Office, But the Lizard Fails to Impress

Impressive debuts for "Rocketman" and "Ma," with "Aladdin" showing a strong second weekend. "Booksmart," however, doesn't make honor roll.

Godzilla art

“Godzilla: King of the Monsters”

Warner Bros.

Although “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” made for a disappointing no. 1, this weekend was an excellent one for the box office. And for that, the credit goes to “Aladdin,” “Rocketman,” and “Ma.”

The combined heft of three credible openers led to about a 50% increase over June’s first weekend last year. That means 2019 has reduced its year-over-year debit to less than 8%, or about $400 million. That comes despite a major shortfall from “Godzilla,” and with better-than-expected showings for both “Rocketman” and “Ma” — a performance that suggests franchises don’t always rule the day.

The best hopes for 2019 still lie in titles like “Toy Story 4,” the newest “Spider-Man,”  and “The Lion King.” However, secondary weekends like these are essential to fulfill hopes for a rebound and for the sustained health of the industry.

Godzilla King of the Monsters Millie Bobby Brown Vera Farmiga

“Godzilla: King of the Monsters”

Warner Bros.

The latest Godzilla, entry, five years after the most recent reboot, sold half as many tickets as its predecessor in its opening domestic weekend. With their budgets roughly the same (a little shy of $200 million), that’s not good — even in the context that this was made for a foreign audience.

Gareth Edwards’ 2014 “Godzilla” saw the film’s two top territories — China, and of course the franchise’s original Japan — open later than most countries. This time, it opened in all major territories, for a $180 million worldwide debut. (International this weekend was heavily affected by major sports, mostly football championships.) That may not be enough to suggest a profit.

“Rocketman”

“Rocketman” was not expected to come close to the strong start seen by “Bohemian Rhapsody” last November. The guess was $20 million-$22 million, which would have not been bad in context (a thrifty $41 million cost, A- Cinemascore). A niche audience (older, female, gay among the most interested) could keep this in play ahead.

But what stands out is, unlike most films not aimed at a weekend family audience, it increased a little on Saturday from both  Friday and the Thursday-night preview grosses (the latter expected to draw the most eager fans). That uptick raised the weekend estimate by a few million and suggests early excellent word of mouth, as well as perhaps some of the communal experience that boosted “Rhapsody.”

Overseas, however, “Rocketman” does not look remotely like “Rhapsody.” Adding more territories after its initial U.K. start last week, it has amassed $31 million foreign so far. Its British drop was small, but it remains to be seen whether this clicks as much overseas as domestic, despite a Cannes premiere meant to generate international interest.

"Ma"

“Ma”

Universal

Also gratifying this weekend is “Ma,” although at this point another low-budget genre hit from Blumhouse is almost taken for granted. Showing its usual risk-taking in some creative elements, it reunited Tate Taylor with his Oscar-winning “The Help” actress Octavia Spencer (herself increasingly showing project smarts and diversity that keeps her fresh and vital). Though it generated mediocre reviews, this opening on a crowded weekend is more than credible.

Will Smith is the Genie and Mena Massoud is Aladdin in Disney’s live-action ALADDIN, directed by Guy Ritchie.

“Aladdin”

Daniel Smith

Even when Disney is only #1 for a week for a major release, they impress. After a holiday-boosted and better-than-expected opening, it fell 54%. With another potential franchise competitor on its heels, falling short of no. 1 by only $7 million stands as testament to the studio’s dominance.

Last week’s other two openers dropped too much to sustain much longer runs. The disappointment is the underperforming “Booksmart,”which based on post-opening day numbers last week looked positioned for a decent $4 million-$4.5 million second weekend. Instead, it managed only two thirds of that, or less. It also suffered from many potential fans going elsewhere (“Rocketman” for sure, with “Ma” also attracting younger females). It could still reach $20 million, but that will be more challenging. Still, it likely will end up with considerably more sales than a more limited release would have accomplished.

Sony’s attempt at a Superman-adjacent story with “Brightburn,” which opened better than “Booksmart” last weekend, collapsed with a 70% drop. Other holds reflected the combination of top competition plus post-holiday drops. Those that kept their drops to just over 50% were “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum,” “Avengers: Endgame,” and “Pokemon Inspector Pikachu.” However, “Endgame” increasingly looks like it will fall short of $850 million domestic, and not equal “Avatar” in undadjusted worldwide totals.

The Top Ten

1. Godzilla: King of the Monsters (Warner Bros.) NEW – Cinemascore: 49; Metacritic: B+; Est. budget: $180 million

$49,025,000 in 4,108 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $11,934; Cumulative: $49,025,000

2. Aladdin (Disney) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$42,335,000 (-54%) in 4,476 theaters (no change); PTA: $9,458; Cumulative: $185,032,000

3. Rocketman (Paramount) NEW – Cinemascore: 71; Metacritic: A-; Est. budget: $41 million

$25,000,000 in 3,610 theaters; PTA: $6,925; Cumulative: $25,000,000

4. Ma (Universal) NEW – Cinemascore: 53; Metacritic: B-; Est. budget: $5 million

$18,260,000 in 2,808 theaters; PTA: $6,503; Cumulative: $18,260,000

5. John Wick 3 (Lionsgate) Week 3; Last weekend #2

$11,100,000 (-55%) in 3,604 theaters (-246); PTA: $3,080; Cumulative: $125,753,000

6. Avengers: Endgame (Disney) Week 6; Last weekend #3

$7,813,000 (-55%) in 3,105 theaters (-705); PTA: $2,516; Cumulative: $815,502,000

7. Pokemon Inspector Pikachu (Warner Bros.) Week 4; Last weekend #4

$6,665,000 (-50%) in 3,147 theaters (-677); PTA: $2,118; Cumulative: $130,601,000

8. Booksmart (United Artists) Week 2; Last weekend #6

$3,329,000 (-52%) in 2,518 theaters (+13); PTA: $1,322; Cumulative: $14,367,000

9. Brightburn (Paramount) Week 2; Last weekend #5

$2,315,000 (-70%) in 2,607 theaters (no change); PTA: $888; Cumulative: $14,212,000

10. The Hustle (United Artists) Week 4; Last weekend #8
$1,300,000 (-64%) in 1,407 theaters (-970); PTA: $924; Cumulative: $33,195,000

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