“Kong: Skull Island” will try to prove it’s king of the box office jungle this weekend, but the giant ape faces fierce competition from Wolverine. Fresh off its blockbuster opening, Fox’s “Logan” shows no sign of slowing down. The superhero movie is on pace to pull in $45 million in its sophomore weekend. It has already racked up nearly $105 million domestically.
“Kong: Skull Island” should benefit from strong reviews. The film currently enjoys an impressive 80% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics hailing the picture’s creature effects and eye for spectacle. Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman wrote that the film was 10 times better than “Jurassic World” and hailed it as “…a rousing and smartly crafted primordial-beastie spectacular.”
Legendary Entertainment and Warner Bros. backed the project, which is intended to be the second installment in a planned monster series. The first film, 2014’s “Godzilla,” made $529.1 million globally on a $160 million budget. A sequel is planned for 2019, with another mashup movie, intended to pit King Kong against the giant lizard slated, to come out in 2020.
First, however, “Kong: Skull Island” needs to work. The film is eyeing a solid $45 million to $50 million domestic launch and will get an assist from foreign markets. It bows in 65 territories and should pull in another $65 million overseas. A China opening is scheduled for later this month. It needs to be a global blockbuster. All that ape rampage wasn’t cheap. “Kong: Skull Island” carries a hefty $185 million budget. It will need to do well north of $300 million to have a chance of making money.
Its release also comes as Legendary Entertainment is making big changes. Founder Thomas Tull was pushed out last month after a string of film bombs. The studio lost millions on the likes of “Seventh Son,” “Blackhat,” and last month’s “The Great Wall.” The company was purchased by China’s Dalian Wanda Group for a reported $3.5 billion in early 2016, and is now looking to prove to its new corporate parent that it can show more consistency in picking hits. Proving King Kong still sits on his throne will go a long way towards doing just that.