Godzilla

Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures’ “Godzilla” could end up atop the monster movie heap, as it’s currently tracking to gross upwards of $70 million domestically through Sunday.

Budgeted at $160 million, “Godzilla,” directed by Gareth Edwards (“Monsters”), the latest reboot of the Japanese classic after Sony’s big-budget 1998 disappointment. That pic, which cost around $130 million to produce, launched around this time with $44 million and wound up grossing just shy of $380 million. The biggest creature feature weekend to date was 1997’s “The Lost World: Jurassic Park,” which opened to $72 million.

Warner launches its “Godzilla” day-and-date in 64 territories, including France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Russia, South Korea, Brazil, Mexico, Australia and the U.K.

“Godzilla,” which launches at nearly 4,000 domestic locations, including Imax and other premium large-format screens, has been siphoning Stateside audience attention for several weeks, with Warner putting major marketing muscle behind it. The studio was very strategic with how it revealed the monster in its marketing. Between “Godzilla” and “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” which Fox bows over Memorial Day weekend, few other titles are gathering buzz.

Disney hopes to counterprogram noisy summer fare with inspirational sports drama “Million Dollar Arm,” starring Jon Hamm. Tracking services anticipate the film will gross somewhere in the low-teens, which would be a fine start for the modestly-budgeted $25 million film.

Playability for “Million Dollar Arm” seems strong given its word-of-mouth and potential appeal to faith-based audiences, although it could do even better in ancillaries.

“Godzilla,” on the other hand, has scored a healthy 77% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is essential for the film to register with non-“Godzilla” enthusiasts. The pic has scored even higher with audiences who want to see the film, according to the site.

As the lead-up to Memorial Day weekend, “Godzilla” looks to overperform past comparisons, since this weekend typically has been dwarfed by studio tentpoles bowing on either side. Last year, Paramount managed to score a $70 million opening this weekend with “Star Trek Into Darkness,” though “Godzilla” lacks the same franchise reliability. Instead, it’ll need to rely on positive word-of-mouth to build anticipation.

Among the weekend’s holdovers, Universal’s R-rated hit comedy “Neighbors” is likely to land in the No. 2 spot with a lower-than-typical drop from its opening week. The film opened to a sizable $49 million last weekend and has cumed nearly $62 million domestically through Wednesday.

Also, Sony’s “The Amazing Spider-Man 2″ soared past $150 million Stateside, with more than $400 million internationally. That pic should gross somewhere in the mid-teens in its third frame.

In limited release, meanwhile, the Weinstein Co. launches the period drama “The Immigrant” a year after it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. The film, starring Joaquin Phoenix, Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Renner, bows at three domestic engagements.

 

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