News Column

'Godzilla' Stomps to a Monstrous Opening

May 19, 2014

Scott Bowles, USA TODAY

He turned 60 this year, but Godzilla tramples like a giant lizard half his age.

Godzilla stomped the box office and the record books this weekend, wreaking havoc to the tune of $93.2 million, according to studio estimates from Rentrak.

The debut was "expectation-busting," says Rentrak's Paul Dergarabedian. The opening smashed analysts' projections of $70 million and marked the largest opening of all time for a monster movie. The previous champ, 1997's The Lost World: Jurassic Park, bowed to $72 million, according to Box Office Mojo.

And Godzilla was halfway to the record by Friday night, earning $38.5 million, the year's biggest single day in ticket sales. The debut fell just short of the biggest single weekend of 2014. The title remains with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which opened to $95 million.

Like The Lego Movie, Godzilla hit the generational sweet spot: a brand beloved by adults yet modernized for kids.

The Bryan Cranston film earned recommendations from 72% of critics, according to survey site Rotten Tomatoes -- a strong score for a monster movie.

"Chalk this up to being one of the few blockbusters where reviews seemed to matter," says Reagen Sulewski, analyst for Box Office Prophets. "There's little doubt that the Godzilla name is not one associated with high-quality films, especially with the memory of Godzilla'98 still fresh in a lot of people's minds."

Sulewski credited Legendary Pictures and distributor Warner Bros. with elevating traditionally camp material.

"Taking the material seriously and producing a thoughtful monster movie that still had plenty of eye candy has proven to be a masterstroke," says Sulewski, hailing director Gareth Edwards for creating "something that's being mentioned in the same breath as Jaws, Aliensand Jurassic Park."

The only other major newcomer, baseball drama Million Dollar Arm, didn't have its best stuff. It took fourth with $10.5 million. The Seth Rogen comedy Neighbors was second with $26 million, followed by The Amazing Spider-Man 2 with $16.8 million. The revenge film The Other Woman was fifth with $6.3 million.

Final figures are expected today.

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Source: Copyright 2014 USA TODAY

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