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Credit: Warner Bros./Legendary

Box office: Godzilla vs. Kong clashes to $70 million in kaiju-sized debut overseas

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Mar 28, 2021, 12:03 PM EDT

Ahead of its U.S. bow later this week, Warner Bros. and Legendary's Godzilla vs. Kong performed exceptionally well during its overseas debut in China this weekend.

The Adam Wingard-directed monster mash brought in $70.34 from the Chinese box office — "the biggest opening weekend for a non-local film," Variety writes. It's probably wishful thinking to hope that North American sales will match or exceed that figure once the movie opens Wednesday (March 31), especially since the feature is receiving a simultaneous release in theaters and on HBO Max. That said, domestic sales are thankfully on the rise thanks to the reopening of theater locations in New York and California. 

Looking at the full scope of global returns, Godzilla vs. Kong already has more than $121 million — a haul fit for a king...of the monsters. That's the best international opening of the COVID-19 era (the previous record holder was Tenet, which bowed to $53 million overseas last summer). IMAX screenings of the larger-than-life movie brought in $12.4 million from 891 screens across 40 different international markets ($9.4 million of that came from ticket sales in China). It was the biggest weekend opening for any IMAX release since December 2019. In North America, several IMAX showings have already sold out ahead of the Stateside launch.

Godzilla vs. Kong demands to be seen on the biggest screen possible and audiences worldwide are answering the call — continuing to drive market share gains for IMAX and proving there is real business to be done for Hollywood blockbusters,” IMAX CEO Rich Gelfond said in a statement. “We are particularly encouraged by the film’s strong debut in China, where audiences turned out in a big way for this Hollywood franchise.”

Serving as a sequel to both Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla: Kong of the Monsters, Godzilla vs. Kong pits two of cinema's most iconic kaiju against one another. After Godzilla starts hurting innocent people, Kong is whisked away from his cozy island home (a home full of giant, deadly beasties) to deal with the radioactive lizard. Early reactions to the MonsterVerse blockbuster have been pretty positive — at least when it comes to the fight sequences between the titular heavyweights.

“We have sort of two concurrent stories and we kind of broke them into ‘Team Godzilla,’ led by Millie Bobby Brown and Bryan Tyree Henry, and then you’ve got ‘Team Kong,’ which is sort of spearheaded by Alexander Skarsgård and Rebecca Hall,” Wingard (Death Noterecently told SYFY WIRE. “The characters’ personalities were always based around the perspective of the monsters, and that’s why they’re relevant to the story.”

In terms of this weekend's North American box office, Disney's Raya and the Last Dragon fell to second place with $3.5 million in its fourth frame (Universal's Nobody won the No. 1 spot with $6.7 million). Raya, which is currently available to stream on Disney+ for an added fee, has made $28 million domestically and $82 million globally. Earlier in the week, Disney announced identical hybrid rollouts for Black Widow (July 9) and Cruella (May 28).

Tom & Jerry (another Warner Bros. offering) took third with $2.5 million from 2,464 domestic sites. Leaving HBO Max today, the family-friendly film has made $37 million in North America and more than $77 million worldwide. Chaos Walking continued its sluggish run in fourth place with an additional $1.18 million. To date, Doug Liman's long-delayed sci-fi adventure has made $11.3 million domestically and just over $15 million globally.