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Sony’s reptile roars into openings record

'Godzilla' to chomp on 7,363 screens

Sony Pictures’ “Godzilla” will thunder into theaters Wednesday on a record 7,363 screens in 3,310 theaters, demolishing the record of 6,190 screens set last summer by Universal’s “The Lost World: Jurassic Park.”

Most theaters will offer advanced showings on Tuesday, beginning at 7 p.m., according to Sony distribution topper Jeff Blake.

Blake said exhibitor demand for the effects-driven sci-fi adventure had exploded since an April 30 screening for top domestic chains.

“While we had planned to be among the widest releases ever, never in my wildest dreams did I think we’d be at 7,363,” he said. “We’re not that good as sales people; I guess ‘Godzilla’ is.”

The announcement caps a week and a half of tense negotiations between Sony execs and theater-owners. The normal distributor-exhibitor haggling was heightened by Sony’s original demand for an unprecedented 80% share of the first week’s grosses.

National theater chains steadfastly rejected the terms, fearing that acceptance would raise the bar for future event releases. But a handful of regional chains agreed to the stiff rental fees in certain competitive situations.

In the end, Sony backed away from its insistence on 80% in most cases. But the studio still managed to strike extremely rich deals while booking a staggering number of engagements.

“At the end of the day, we met in the middle as always,” Blake said. “We probably got less than we dreamed of, and exhibitors paid a little more than they planned to. The good news is all parties involved are doing what’s right for the picture.”