Godzilla 2014

Warner Bros.-Legendary Pictures tentpole driven by premium formats

Leaving a giant-sized footprint at the global box office this weekend, Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures’ “Godzilla” estimated $93.2 million domestically through Sunday, marking the largest-ever May opening for Warner.

The Warner-Legendary Japanese remake also 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).

Historically, the run-up to Memorial Day weekend has been more modest given that it falls between the first weekend in May — a huge moviegoing frame — and the long holiday fray, during which a good number of schools have just commenced for the summer break.

“Anytime I beat tracking by $20 million, I’m happy,” said Warner domestic distribution prexy Dan Fellman. “That’s like a whole other movie.”

“Godzilla” benefited from massive fanboy support in the Imax and premium large-formats. The former company alone contributed 15% of the gross at $14.1 million from just 352 screens, averaging $40,057 per-screen and marking the exhib’s largest Stateside opening this year.

“When you look at what Imax did, it was clear that if you wanted to see a big monster movie, you saw it on a big screen in Imax,” Fellman added.

Other premium large-format screens contributed $8.4 million (or 9%) of the film’s opening gross, of which Cinemark (including its XD brand) led the charge with $2.2 million.

Not only does “Godzilla’s” overperformance skew the Memorial Day lead-in slump, it also blows away the “Godzilla” B.O. curse set nearly 16 years ago with Sony’s same-titled monster remake. Warner and Legendary’s version, meanwhile, which cost $160 million to produce, entered its theatrical blowout with positive critical reviews and strong audience interest. Pic scored a solid (though not glowing) ‘B+’ CinemaScore.

“Godzilla” led the domestic B.O. to a 17% increase over the same frame last year, when Paramount’s “Star Trek Into Darkness” scored a boffo $70 million opening.

Holdovers including Universal’s “Neighbors” and Sony’s “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” which estimated $26 million and $16.8 million, respectively, also helped move the needle this weekend. “Neighbors” reached $91.5 million through Sunday; “Spider-Man” surpassed $172 million Stateside.

Also, Disney’s inspirational sports drama “Million Dollar Arm,” starring Jon Hamm, fell in line with expectations, grossing a projected $11 million in three days. The film cost just $25 million to produce and should leg out nicely given its strong ‘A-‘ rating with domestic auds.

Warner’s Fellman said “Godzilla” over-indexed with Hispanics and urban audiences. He credits Legendary topper Thomas Tull and his team for spearheading the project.

“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.”

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