So Godzilla: King Of The Monsters arrived in cinemas exactly a week ago to great excitement for this Godzilla fan – followed by crushing disappointment. I wanted to love it, but as my review here states, I found it to be very poor indeed, from its perverse decision to use everything from debris to darkness to specific camera angles to prevent us from seeing its considerable kaiju action properly, to its often terribly written human dimension. However, how well has it done, box office-wise?
The answer is – not very well. Godzilla opened strongly but then quickly tailed off. Kong: Skull Island had a far lower opening but held its ground for longer and was actually more lucrative as it had a rather smaller budget. But Godzilla: King Of The Monsters is the least successful installment of the MonsterVerse so far, opening to a disappointing $49 million domestically – almost half of Godzilla [$93 million] and way behind Kong: Skull Island [$61 million]. And reports are coming in that the Asian box office isn’t too good either, though apparently it’s doing pretty well in Japan [well, that’s perhaps no surprise].
Why is this so? Well, one can put it partly down to this darn superhero craze which shows no sign of abating despite the odd commercial failure like Justice League. This means that other kinds of properties, especially of the sci-fi/action kind, often struggle, though I was most pleased that Alita: Battle Angel did far better than people said it would, and we may even be be getting a sequel, so there are exceptions! But I think you also have to factor in the ad campaign which, while it got us kaiju fans all worked up, didn’t do much to attract folk who weren’t lovers of giant monsters, and indeed women which many still seem to forget make up half of the demographic. Also, Godzilla remains quite niche – I was chatting to two young women at work yesterday and neither of them even knew what Godzilla was even though they knew the name – and is still sadly associated with camp by many, even though the Japanese films have largely left that behind, it only really being most of the ones from the ’60s and ’70s that revel in being goofy. I don’t think that the approach taken by Gareth Edwards with the 2014 film helped either. Non-fans who were just curious would have been frustrated by the reticence with which Godzilla was handled and the cutaways from much of the action – and therefore wouldn’t have bothered coming back for more.
So where does this leave the ‘Monsterverse’? Godzilla Vs Kong is now way into production so it will probably be released as intended, though if it also disappoints at the box office – something I can see being highly likely – then I see can see no more films being made. I have mixed feelings about this. As a fan, I like the idea that the character would have an American movie series as well as a Japanese one, and thereby be more known and popular, though if Godzilla Vs Kong turns out to be as poor as [in my opinion] Godzilla: King Of The Monsters was [though this really is a film that both critics and audiences seem roughly equally divided on], then I think I’d prefer just Toho to make Godzilla films in future.
Anyway, we shall see……