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Godzilla vs. Kong Projected As One of China's Biggest 2021 Box Office Hits


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Godzilla vs. Kong has scored a huge opening at the Chinese box office. Slated for a March 31 release in North America, the latest entry in Legendary's MonsterVerse franchise will debut simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max. Godzilla vs. Kong is directed by action-horror auteur Adam Wingard (You're Next) and stars Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, and Brian Tyree Henry among a host of other prominent and emerging talents.

The Chinese box office is one of the world's largest, and an American film's success or lack thereof in that market plays an increasingly important role in its financial viability. With most US theaters still struggling and mainland China's theaters largely open, the necessity of a strong debut to Chinese audiences has perhaps never been higher. Some recent pandemic-era Hollywood releases like Wonder Woman 1984 have struggled at the Chinese box office, but the early numbers for Godzilla vs. Kong look encouraging.

Variety reports that Godzilla vs. Kong's gross revenues in China as of 6 pm local time on Friday have reached $15.3 million. The showdown between the nuclear lizard and the giant ape accounted for a massive 88.5% of the day's aggregate box office and is on pace to achieve a $166 million haul in China. If it attains that lofty number, Godzilla vs. Kong would become (by a wide margin) the top-grossing Hollywood film in China since the start of the pandemic last March.

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While the recent Chinese re-release of Avatar helped the film reclaim its title as the highest-grossing motion picture of all time, Godzilla vs. Kong's stellar opening at the Chinese box office would mark a new high for original American titles. Tenet ($70.2 million) and Soul ($58 million) have both enjoyed profitable runs in the Asian country, but if Godzilla vs. Kong is able to reach that $166 million estimate, it would become China's fourth highest-grossing film of 2021 so far. Notably, the three films that rank above it are all Chinese titles, with Hi, Mom, the highest-grossing film ever by a solo female director, in the lead.

What such an achievement in the Chinese box office will mean for Godzilla vs. Kong's domestic profits is still uncertain. The sci-fi heavyweight bout was produced by Legendary Pictures, which was purchased by China's Wanda Group for $3.5 billion back in 2016. Officially the Dalian Wanda Group, the multinational conglomerate owns the largest film distributor in China, suggesting a strong ability to put Godzilla vs. Kong in a position to succeed in the Chinese market.

That ability may not carry over as well stateside, where Godzilla vs. Kong's 2019 predecessor Godzilla: King of the Monsters only grossed $110.5 million compared to $135.4 million in China. Throw in the complicated situation with American theaters amid vaccine distribution and mixed early feedback for the monster slugfest, and the film's domestic outlook becomes even murkier. Finances aside, fans of city-destroying monsters everywhere will just have to wait and see if Godzilla vs. Kong can take the MonsterVerse to new heights when it rampages into theaters and HBO Max next week.

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