Lizard launch lifts $8.4 mil

'Godzilla's' 29-hour cume is $12.5 mil

“Godzilla” attacked North American theaters Wednesday to the tune of $8.4 million in 3,310 situations, according to distribu-tor Sony Pictures Releasing. The studio said the pic grossed $4.1 million in about 2,900 sites during advanced screenings Tuesday beginning at 7 p.m.

That brought the big lizard’s cume to $12.5 million in 29 hours, according to SPR president Jeff Blake, who noted that “Godzilla” accounted for a commanding 65% of all ticket sales Wednesday.

“We should have close to $20 million going into the holiday weekend,” said Blake. “Once people are off school and work, it’s really going to be fun. We’re positioned to have one of the biggest openings ever.”

Vying for ‘Impossible’ record

“Godzilla’s” Tuesday gross tops the $3.4 million earned by Paramount’s 1996 “Mission: Impossible,” during its Tuesday preview. The Tom Cruise-starrer took in $8.4 million on Wednesday, its first full day, bringing the two-day tally to $11.8 million.

While “Godzilla’s” opening is nothing to sneeze at, the film needs to significantly outperform “Mission: Impossible” in order to become the kind of event pic Sony is hoping for.

“Mission” finished the holiday frame with a cume of $74.9 million and went on to gross $181 million domestically, just 2.4 times its opening week gross. “Godzilla’s” take could be even more front-loaded given its huge marketing push and the 7,363 auditoriums playing the film.

Reaching for $200 million

Given the hype surrounding the “Godzilla” release and production and domestic marketing costs approaching $200 million, anything less than a $200 million North American cume is likely to be perceived as a disappointment.

Director Roland Emmerich’s last outing, 20th Century Fox’s 1996 release “Independence Day,” zapped a stunning $11.1 million during its Tuesday night advanced screenings, which started at 6 p.m. The following day it grossed a phenomenal $17.3 million.

ID4 went on to gross $306 million domestically — though the film had the advantage of opening in July, when virtually all students are out of school.

Theatrical receipts during last year’s four-day Memorial Day frame totaled $148.4 million. Blake noted that if the market repeats that level of business and “Godzilla” maintains its 65% market share, the pic could wind up with $96.5 million for the four-day frame alone.

But two other wide releases enter the marketplace today, 20th Century Fox’s “Bulworth” and Universal’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” and they will have at least some impact on “Godzilla’s” B.O.