There were rumours from the start that Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla could be the start of a new franchise, but naturally Warner Brothers were waiting to see how well the film performed at the box office before jumping into any more films.
Pacific Rim, directed by Guillermo del Toro, took a mighty impressive $411 million worldwide, but even though del Toro has stated he has both a sequel and prequel planned, Warners are yet to greenlight any future films. This means that the studio are not willing to release sequels to just any old film, and so they waited to see how well Godzilla did before getting behind any further films.
Well Godzilla performed much better than expected, and Warners and Legendary are reaping the rewards of a bold new Godzilla film, and an aggressive advertising campaign which bordered on ridiculous. Godzilla is set to end this weekend breaking records as being the biggest May opening weekend in Warner Bros history.
In the US the film should end on a staggering $93.2 million, the second biggest opening weekend of the year just behind Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier which took $95 million. Warners were expecting the film to be big, but not quite as big as this: “Anytime I beat tracking by $20 million, I’m happy,” said Warner domestic distribution prexy Dan Fellman. “That’s like a whole other movie.”
So Godzilla ruled the US box office, but what about everywhere else? Well, the film destroyed the competition, taking top spot almost everywhere!
The Warner-Legendary Japanese remake scored a whopping estimated $103 million from 64 international territories. The U.K. led the charge with $10.4 million, followed by Russia ($9.1 million) and Mexico ($8.9 million). Outside of the US, Godzilla has had the biggest opening of the year so far.
Godzilla took No. 1 spots in most markets, except for Austria, Norway, Venezuela and took most of the air out of all the markets. Specifically, the beast opened to $6.1M on 498 screens to earn the biggest opening of 2014 in Australia; in Russia, it held onto 80% of the Top 5 in market share, grossing $1.1M from 1,814 runs; in Mexico it bowed at No. 1 with $8.9M from 2,477 screens (68% marketshare for the Top Ten films).
In France, it knocked off a popular local title Qu’Est-ce Qu’On A Fait Au Bon Dieu which held the top spot for four weeks in a row. Germany took No. 1 with grosses from 3D comprising 94.5% of its $5.6M weekend box office. The heat continued
in Italy where it was on fire with $3.6M on 590 runs, pushing the controversial Grace of Monaco and Ghost Movie 2 aside. Of the Top Five films in this territory, Godzilla commanded 55% of the market share. Continuing throughout Europe, the monster also levelled about $1.6M from 427 screens in Spain.
One of the strongest markets outside of the U.S. and ever growing is Korea, where Godzilla hauled in $4.5M from 610 dates, and it outdid all local films, including Obsessed which opened this weekend. Brazil opened to a strong $4.1M on 730 screens to take 50% of the marketshare of the Top Five. Again, 3D was key here as 72% of the weekend’s gross came from large-format screens.
What is most fascinating here is that Edwards has only made one feature film before this, the superb but relatively small Monsters. That film achieved just $2.6 million at the box office, and was made mostly in Edwards’ bedroom on a budget of just $800,000. The British director has taken the leap from something so small to a $160 million picture, and delivered, and so far has seen his film achieve $200 million at the worldwide box office, a far cry from the $2.6 million Monsters took.
Fans will be happy to know that Edwards’ Godzilla will smash the box office haul of Roland Emmerich’s 1998 disaster, which took a total of $379 million. Edwards’ version has already taken half of that in just three days!
“Looks like we’re going to have a nice healthy run, and a great franchise,” Fellman said. “You’ve got to give Thomas Tull credit. He hired (director) Gareth Edwards, who only made one movie before which made just $2.6 million.” Fellman added of Edwards: “He’s a talent that we’ll see around for quite a while.”
Naturally the box office rewards has lead Warner Brothers to start talking sequels, and Deadline confirmed the news:
It was confirmed to Deadline this morning that a Godzilla sequel is underway.
Edwards has talked about what he would do with a sequel, saying he would use the same kind of restraint that he did for this one. He learned well from watching Spielberg films as the monster was only talked about for the first part of this film. And, of course, there were those reaction shots that added to the suspense. Edwards was given the chance by Legendary’s Thomas Tull who put faith in him to pull this off, having previously done Monsters which only grossed $2.6M in total. Tull has played coy in the media on the subject of a sequel, waiting for Godzilla‘s monster opening to confirm sequel plans. As Dan Fellman (WBros. head of domestic distribution) pointed out, they made more in one night (probably one late night run at 7 PM) than Edwards’ movie did in its entire run.
In other news, Godzilla has been rumoured to be upsetting Japanese fans (where it originates), with speculation saying the Japanese believe Edwards’ version is “too fat” etc. Turns out this is just hearsay, and Toho PR rep Yosuke Ogura stated “It’s just a small number of people saying that…The number of people here who are OK with the new ‘Godzilla’ is a lot larger.”
Toho is the Japanese distributor of the film, and owns the underlying Godzilla property.
He favorably compares the look of the title monster in the Gareth Edwards pic to that in the 1998 Roland Emmerich “Godzilla,” which he frankly labels a “disaster.”
“This new Godzilla is closer in spirit to the original,” he says. “If you just see the trailer, you might get the idea that he’s ‘fat’ or whatever, but once you see the whole film, as I have, I think your opinion will change.”
Japan will be the last major market to view the latest Hollywood iteration of the iconic franchise that Toho launched in 1954, with the first of 28 made-in-Japan Godzilla pics: The studio plans to release “Godzilla” on July 25, nearly six weeks after its U.S. bow, but not out of any uncertainty about its success.
“That’s just the best timing,” explains Ogura. “It’s when big movies are released here.”