Box Office: ‘Godzilla’ Stomping to $55 Million-Plus Debut as ‘Rocketman’ Battles ‘Ma’

Warner Bros. and Legendary’s “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” should rule box office charts when it debuts in 3,600 North American venues this weekend.

The monster movie, a sequel to 2014’s “Godzilla” and the 35th feature about the titular beast, is expected to earn $50 million to $55 million during its first three days in theaters. Should estimates hold, that would be enough to claim victory over fellow newcomers, Paramount’s “Rocketman” and Universal’s “Ma.”

Some industry watchers predict “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” the third installment in Legendary’s MonsterVerse, could reach $70 million in its debut. Even those box office heights would fall significantly short of its predecessor, which launched with $93 million and went on to collect $200 million at the domestic box office and $529 million globally. “King of the Monsters” is eyeing a start closer to “Kong: Skull Island,” the second entry in Legendary’s monster franchise. The King Kong reboot bowed with $61 million, ending its box office run with over $566 million worldwide.

Directed by Michael Dougherty, “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” follows the eponymous monster who faces off against his nemesis, King Ghidorah, and other ancient mythic creatures who are wreaking havoc on Earth. The film stars Kyle Chandler, Millie Bobby Brown and Bradley Whitford. The sequel has garnered mixed reviews, with Variety’s Owen Gleiberman calling it “a spectacular clash of the titans, but this one has a less commanding balance of schlock and awe.”

Popular on Variety

“Godzilla” won’t be the only seemingly otherworldly being entering multiplexes this weekend. “Rocketman,” a fantasy musical about the life of Elton John, is also hitting theaters. The jukebox biopic should amass around $20 million from 3,600 venues, with some box office analysts estimating a start north of $30 million. Since premiering at Cannes, “Rocketman” has generated solid reviews, notably for Taron Egerton’s portrayal of the songwriting legend.

While the film will inevitably draw comparisons to Fox’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the Oscar-winning Queen biopic that took in an electrifying $903 million in global ticket sales, the R-rated “Rocketman” tackles much darker themes that could make it less likely to play in more conservative movie markets such as China. Even so, John is an iconic figure around the world and Egerton’s take on his greatest hits could translate into a crowd pleaser. The studio anticipates that “A Star Is Born” and “The Greatest Showman,” two musical films with modest debuts that built an audience over time, will be more accurate comparisons.

“Rocketman” already blasted off overseas, launching in the United Kingdom last weekend with $8.6 million. It opens in 39 international territories, including France, Italy and Australia, this weekend. Dexter Fletcher, the filmmaker who took over “Bohemian Rhapsody” after Bryan Singer was fired, directed the movie, which captures how a small-town boy became one of the biggest names in showbiz. Jamie Bell plays Bernie Taupin, John’s longtime writing partner, while Richard Madden and Bryce Dallas Howard round out the cast.

This weekend’s final nationwide release is Universal and Blumhouse Productions’ “Ma,” a horror movie starring Octavia Spencer. The psychological thriller is expected to make between $18 million and $22 million from 2,700 screens. Spencer plays a lonely middle-aged woman who befriends some high schoolers after they ask her to buy alcohol for them. After Ma lets the teenagers party in her basement, things start to take an obsessive and creepy turn. Tate Taylor, the director behind “The Help” and “Girl on the Train,” helmed “Ma.”

Unless “Rocketman” or “Ma” become breakout hits, “Aladdin” should nab second place on box office charts. Disney’s remake of the Arabian musical about a charming street rat bowed with $91 million last weekend and picked up $116 through Memorial Day. If it sees a hold similar to other Disney reboots like “The Jungle Book,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Dumbo,” “Aladdin” could add another $36 to $45 million during its second weekend in theaters.

More Film


    Gaumont Scales Down U.S. Operations, Anticipates Big Losses (EXCLUSIVE)

    Gaumont, the once thriving French studio behind “The Intouchables” and “Narcos,” is set to rejig its film and TV strategy as it anticipates heavy losses in 2019. Variety can reveal that the company has all but shut down its TV distribution operations in the U.S., recently axing 12 employees, including Vanessa Shapiro, president of worldwide [...]

  • Ford v Ferrari BTS

    Cinema Audio Society Nominees Represent Wide Range of Genres

    There’s an exceptional level of craftsmanship among this year’s nominees for the Cinema Audio Society Awards, which recognizes outstanding accomplishments in sound mixing, a collaborative discipline that requires sound editors, re-recording mixers, Foley and ADR artistry to work together to create a harmonious finished product. The categories considered are: live action, animated and documentary features, [...]

  • My Name is Baghdad

    Reel Suspects Acquires Berlinale Generation Title 'My Name is Baghdad' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Reel Suspects has acquired international sales rights to Caru Alves de Souza’s coming-of-age tale “My Name is Baghdad,” which will world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in the Generation 14 section. The film was produced by Manjericão Filmes and Tangerina Entretenimento. It follows a 17-year-old female skater named Baghdad who lives in a working-class [...]

  • My Salinger Year

    Berlin Film Festival to Open With Sigourney Weaver, Margaret Qualley Starrer 'My Salinger Year'

    The 70th edition of the Berlinale will open with Philippe Falardeau’s anticipated “My Salinger Year,” headlined by a powerful female duo, Sigourney Weaver and Margaret Qualley. Set in New York’s literary world in the 90’s, the coming-of-age story is based on Joanna Rakoff’s international bestseller and follows Joanna (Qualley), who leaves graduate school to pursue [...]

  • Bad Hair

    'Bad Hair': Film Review

    The year is 1989 and New Jack Swing is about to push black culture from the margins to the mainstream. The question for the black employees of Culture, the music TV station at the center of writer-director Justin Simien’s delightfully macabre horror-dramedy “Bad Hair,” is what image do they — and their white executive Grant [...]

  • Bad Hair

    Justin Simien's 'Bad Hair' is a Tribute to Exploited Black Women Everywhere, Director Says

    Deeply personal but indulgently campy, Justin Simien’s Sundance opener “Bad Hair” is a genre-blending horror show that the director said serves as a tribute to the struggles of black women. The mind behind  “Dear White People” staged the world premiere for the project at Park City’s Ray Theater on Thursday night, before a cast that [...]

  • Taylor Swift: Miss Americana

    'Taylor Swift: Miss Americana': Film Review

    Fly-on-the-wall portraits of pop-music stars used to be dominated by, you know, pop music. The life and personality and woe-is-me-I’m-caught-in-the-media-fishbowl spectacle of the star herself was part of the equation, yet all that stuff had a way of dancing around the edges. Now, though, it’s front and center. In “Taylor Swift: Miss Americana,” we catch [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content