- “Godzilla vs. Kong” had the biggest domestic opening weekend for any film released during the pandemic, earning $48.5 million between Wednesday and Sunday.
- “Wonder Woman 1984” previously held the pandemic record, making $16.7 million domestically in its holiday season opening weekend.
- Box office analysts believe the strong performance of “Godzilla vs. Kong” is a sign that the moviegoing industry could have a strong comeback and continue to surge as more Americans receive COVID-19 vaccinations.
“Godzilla vs. Kong” Sets Pandemic Box Office Record
“Godzilla vs. Kong” made $48.5 million domestically in its opening weekend, shattering pandemic-era box office records and giving the film industry hope that theaters might finally have a chance at a comeback after a year of suffering.
The action-packed blockbuster brought in its impressive haul between Wednesday and Sunday. Before this, “Wonder Woman 1984” had the largest domestic opening weekend during the pandemic, raking in $16.7 million during its holiday season debut.
The film’s predecessor, “Godzilla: King of Monsters,” was largely considered a disappointment after it made just $47.7 million during its domestic opening weekend in 2019, when theaters were open at full capacity. Currently, just around 60% of North American theaters are open and most are limited to filling between 25-50% of their seats. For “Godzilla vs. Kong” to outpace “Godzilla: King of Monsters” with these restrictions is a big win after a year of lackluster box office performances.
Analysts Have Positive Outlook For Moviegoing’s Future
The success of the movie is a sign that theaters, which have struggled due to coronavirus closures and newfound streaming competition, may catch a break this summer. B. Riley Securities analyst Eric Wold wrote that this box office record “destroys lingering concerns around theatrical window importance and demonstrates a solid path to resurgence.”
In his report, which was obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Wold added that the haul is especially noteworthy because “Godzilla vs. Kong” is not exclusively in theaters and viewers could stream it at home on HBO Max at no additional charge. He said that its box office accomplishment serves as “a clear indication that consumers want to return to theaters even with the onslaught of streaming options reaching homes.”
Warner Bros. made the controversial decision in December to release all of their 2021 titles on HBO Max and in theaters simultaneously. The studio received backlash from the exhibition industry for the move, as theaters feared it would further the harm done by the pandemic. However, as COVID-19 cases were on a startling rise in the winter, executives justified it as a decision necessary for the times. Now that one of their tentpoles has had such a roaring opening just a few months later, Wold thinks this is “possibly an indication that Warner Bros. made the wrong decision” regarding their hybrid release strategy.
Wold is not the only one who views “Godzilla vs. Kong” as a promising sign. Imax distribution executive David King told The New York Times that “audiences are demonstrating that pent-up demand to experience blockbuster moviemaking on the grandest scale.”
The president of domestic distribution at Warner Bros., Jeff Goldstein, told the Wall Street Journal that there was an “interest to go out and enjoy some normalcy.” He also claimed that a significant portion of people who went to the theater this weekend had not gone in over a year.
“Moviegoers have been waiting for an event film like ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ to arrive on the big screen, and the numbers don’t lie,” Goldstein added in a statement to Variety. “It’s clear that wherever audiences are ready to safely return to the theater, they have, and we’re thrilled with the results.”
Globally, “Godzilla vs. Kong” has made another $236.9 million. Analysts will be looking to the results of next weekend to see if this early April boost could lead to longer-term box office stability.
See what others are saying: (The Hollywood Reporter) (New York Times) (Wall Street Journal)
Jodie Sweetin Releases Statement After Getting Pushed By Officers at Pro-Choice Protest: “This Will Not Deter Us”
“Love everyone out there in the streets fighting for what’s right,” she wrote on Instagram.
Actress Pushed at Protest
After viral footage showed Jodie Sweetin getting pushed to the ground by officers with the Los Angeles Police Department while attending a pro-choice protest, the “Full House” actress said demonstraters “will continue fighting” for their rights.
Sweetin was attending a protest off the 101 freeway on Saturday following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Photojournalist Mike Ade, who captured the video, said the actress was “trying to lead a group of peaceful protestors away from the freeway” when officers pushed her. Sweetin was standing on a curb when she was pushed and fell down on the cement road. Ade wrote that she was “fortunately…okay.”
Ade shared a handful of other videos depicting officers using similar tactics on other protesters. As these videos started circulating online, many became outraged by the LAPD’s response to the protests.
Sweetin Addresses Incident
Following the incident, Sweetin released a statement where she said the fight against the court’s decision is not over.
“I’m extremely proud of the hundreds of people who showed up yesterday to exercise their First Amendment rights and take immediate action to peacefully protest the giant injustices that have been delivered from our Supreme Court,” Sweetin said. “Our activism will continue until our voices are heard and action is taken. This will not deter us, we will continue fighting for our rights. We are not free until ALL of us are free.”
Sweetin also shared footage of the incident and other clips of officers clashing with protesters on her Instagram story. She cheered protesters in a comment on a video of the push shared by a social justice group called The Progressivists.
“Love everyone out there in the streets fighting for what’s right,” she wrote.
According to a statement obtained by Deadline, the LAPD is looking into the matter.
“The LAPD is aware of a video clip of a woman being pushed to the ground by officers not allowing the group to enter on foot and overtake the 101 freeway,” the statement said. “The force used will be evaluated against the LAPD’s policy and procedure.”
See what others are saying: (Deadline) (Rolling Stone) (The Hollywood Reporter)
Dave Chappelle Decides Against Having Former High School’s Theater Named After Him
“The idea that my name will be turned into an instrument of someone else’s perceived oppression is untenable to me,” the comedian reportedly said.
Theater Named Announced
Comedian Dave Chappelle opted on Monday to not have the theater at his alma mater high school named after him, according to a report from The Washington Post.
The Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington D.C. previously planned to name its theater in honor of Chappelle, as he is a distinct alum and donor. While Chappelle formerly said such a gesture would be “the most significant honor of [his] life,” he announced during Monday’s naming ceremony that it would bear a different title.
The school’s theater will instead be called the Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression.
A naming ceremony was initially set to take place in November, but was postponed after the comedian began facing backlash for transphobic jokes in his Netflix special “The Closer.”
Among other things, he said he was “Team TERF,” which stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist. He also made a joke about Caitlyn Jenner and remarks comparing the genitalia of transgender women to Beyond and Impossible meat.
The jokes embroiled Chappelle in controversy, and reports claimed that some students at Duke Ellington took issue with the comments. When Chappelle ended up visiting the school amid the scandal, Politico reported that one student told the comedian, “I’m 16 and I think you’re childish, you handled it like a child.”
Chappelle Defends Controversial Special
According to The Post, Chappelle said the criticism against him “sincerely” hurt, but added that “the Ellington Family is my family.” He claimed he did not want the theater being named after him to distract students.
“The idea that my name will be turned into an instrument of someone else’s perceived oppression is untenable to me,” he said according to Josh Rogin, a columnist for the outlet.
Rogin also tweeted that Chappelle took time out of the ceremony to slam the criticisms levied against him, accusing upset students of promoting someone else’s agenda.
“These kids didn’t understand that they were instruments of oppression,” he reportedly said.
“You cannot report on an artist’s work and remove artistic nuance,” Chappelle continued while denouncing the press coverage of his Netflix special.
According to David Frum, a staff writer for The Atlantic who attended the ceremony, Chappelle suggested he was open to potentially adding his name to the theater at a later date when the community is ready.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Variety) (The Atlantic)
Chris Evans Says People Upset With Same-Gender “Lightyear” Kiss Are “Idiots”
The kiss was previously removed from the film until a surge of backlash from Pixar employees prompted Disney to reinstate it.
Chris Evans Supports “Lightyear” Scene
“Lightyear” star Chris Evans is standing against people who have criticized the same-gender kiss scene in the upcoming Pixar film.
“The real truth is those people are idiots,” the actor told Reuters this week when discussing negative reactions to the scene’s inclusion.
“The American story, the human story is one of constant social awakening and growth and that’s what makes us good,” he continued.
Countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, and more have banned the release of “Lightyear” over the kiss, which is between two women. Right-wing pundits in the U.S. have also slammed it, and user reviews for the picture on websites like IMDB have claimed that movie-going has “become an avenue for political propaganda.”
Evans argued those opinions are outdated.
“There’s always going to be people who are afraid and unaware and trying to hold on to what was before. But those people die off like dinosaurs,” he said. “I think the goal is to pay them no mind, march forward and embrace the growth that makes us human.”
“Lightyear” hits theaters on Friday starring Evans as the titular Buzz Lightyear. Evans, however, is not playing the action figure made famous in the “Toy Story” movies and is instead playing an animated human astronaut who inspired the toy.
Kiss Scene Almost Never Made it to Big Screen
According to outlets that have reviewed the film, the same-gender kiss is between Alisha Hawthorne, a character voiced by Uzo Aduba, and her wife.
Multiple reports have stated that Disney was always supportive of depicting a gay couple in the picture, but was more hesitant about showing an on-screen kiss between the two. The studio previously had the scene removed from the film until a swell of backlash prompted it to reinstate the kiss.
The decision came in March amid criticisms over Disney’s slow response to Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill. At the time, a group of Pixar employees wrote an open letter claiming that they have pushed for more inclusion in their films, but “nearly every moment of overtly gay affection is cut at Disney’s behest.”
Now that the scene made the final cut of “Lightyear,” it has been a large topic of conversation leading up to the film’s release. On Monday, Evans told Variety that the inclusion of the scene makes him “happy,” but he hopes one day, scenes like this will be considered standard.
“It’s tough to not be a little frustrated that it even has to be a topic of discussion,” he said. “That it is this kind of ‘news.’ The goal is that we can get to a point where it is the norm, and that this doesn’t have to be some uncharted waters, that eventually this is just the way it is.”