1998s Godzilla movie wasn’t as big as Sony/TriStar wanted, but thanks to it tapping into the sizeable Jean Reno fanbase that endures to this day, it still managed to become the ninth biggest movie of 1998. Keeping in mind what singular element catapulted that film to such big numbers, it’s no surprise to see Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which couldn’t even spring for a Jean Reno cameo, to open to only $49 million, down a whopping 47% from the opening of the 2014 Godzilla movie and down 20% from the opening weekend of Kong: Skull Island. To put things into perspective, this opening is closer to the $16.2 million bow of Michale Dougherty’s last movie Krampus than it is to the $93.1 million debut of the 2014 Godzilla movie.
All Jean Reno silliness aside, it’s not surprising to see Godzilla: King of the Monsters come up short at the box office mostly because of its marketing, which tried to course correct from the lack of big monster spectacle in Godzilla (2014), but ended up providing a marketing campaign bereft of the human elements audiences need to ground these disaster movies. Even 2012 ended its theatrical trailer with John Cusack reassuring his kids they’d survive a big disaster while Godzilla (2014) got plenty of memorable trailers out of the sight of humans trying to survive big monster battles. By contrast, King of the Monsters focused its marketing entirely on big monsters like Rodan and Mothra that general moviegoers likely aren’t familiar with while rare marketing focused on humans lacked recognizable big-name actors like Bryan Cranston or Samuel L. Jackson that past MonsterVerse movies Godzilla (2014) or Kong: Skull Island had.
On a $170 million budget, Godzilla’s newest movie is gonna have to kick serious butt overseas to make profit as it’s unlikely to make much more than $125 million here, a sum behind the $136.3 million of the Roland Emmerich Godzilla movie from 21 years ago. Good luck to the people who have to market next years Kong vs. Godzilla in the wake of this box office disappointment. Is it too late to get Jean Reno on the horn for a cameo?
Aladdin had a much better than usual second-weekend hold for a Memorial Day release, a type of film that usually loses well over 60% in its second weekend of release. Falling only 53% this weekend, Aladdin grossed another $42.3 million and brought its domestic gross to $185 million in just ten days of domestic release. By tomorrow, Aladdin will surpass the $189.9 million domestic gross of Grease to become the second-biggest live-action musical ever at the domestic box office and looks set for at least a $265-275 million final domestic gross.
Next up, we have another new wide release in the form of Rocketman. I hope nobody minds if I put down into words how wonderful life is for Paramount Pictures executives after Rocketman bowed to $25 million, the fourth-biggest opening weekend ever for a Music Biopic and the eleventh-biggest opening weekend ever for a musical. It’s also only the fourth movie in history with an LGBTQA+ lead character to open to more than $20 million in the entire history of the domestic box office. To put that into tragic perspective, that’s also the same amount of movies starring minions that have opened above $20 million. With an A- CinemaScore and little competition in the weeks to come, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Rocketman generate strong legs in the weekends to come and cross $100 million domestically.
Chalk up another win for Blumhouse Productions as Ma grossed $18.2 million, nearly four times its budget. In the realm of Blumhouse opening weekends, that’s more on par with the solid bows of Sinister ($18 million) or Truth or Dare ($18.6 million) than a massive breakout hit like The Purge or the Insidious sequels, but it’s already plenty profitable and has given Octavia Spencer her fifth-biggest opening weekend ever. Universal’s got marketing Blumhouse releases basically down to a science so it’s no surprise this one ended up being a big hit, especially since there hasn’t been a major horror movie hit in a while.
Rounding out the top five was John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, which fell 55% to gross another $11.1 million for a fantastic domestic gross of $125.7 million. In sixth place was Avengers: Endgame, which fell 54% (a much larger than usual post-Memorial Day drop for a Marvel Studios title) for sixth-weekend gross of $7.8 million and a domestic gross of $815.5 million. Yet another holdover dropping over 50% this weekend was Pokemon: Detective Pikachu, which fell 50% for a fourth-weekend gross of $6.6 million and a domestic gross of $130.6 million. Sometime this week, Detective Pikachu will surpass the $131.1 million domestic gross of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider to become the biggest video game adaptation of all-time domestically.
Booksmart fell a sharp 52% this frame, grossing another $3.3 million for a domestic gross of just $14.3 million. Can this one manage to crack $20 million domestically? Let’s hope so. Having a far steeper second-weekend decline was BrightBurn, which dropped a harsh 70% to add $2.3 million to a domestic gross of only $14.2 million. Rounding out the top ten was The Hustle, which dropped 63% for a fourth-weekend gross of $1.3 million for a domestic gross of $33.1 million while A Dog’s Journey plummeted 75% for a third-weekend gross of just $1 million and a domestic gross of $18.7 million, just $500,000 ahead of the opening weekend of its predecessor. The Intruder fell 64% this weekend and added $810,000 to its domestic haul that’s now up to $34.2 million while Dumbo, still benefiting from being attached to Aladdin at many drive-in theaters, fell only 29% this frame, grossing another $769,000 for a domestic haul of $113.7 million.
The Biggest Little Farm expanded into 275 locations, but actually fell 19% from its haul last weekend. Taking in $421,000 for a per-theater average of only $1,531, this title is falling far faster than other recent documentaries distributed by NEON and has grossed $1.8 million to date. Meanwhile, it looks like The Souvenir is already tapping out at the domestic box office as it grossed just $138,950 from 74 locations for a per-theater average of just $1,878 and a 17-day domestic gross of only $465,766. Limited release box office woes also were felt by The White Crow, which fell 64% from last weekend to gross another $120,456 from 212 locations for a dismal per-theater average of $568 and a domestic gross of just $1.5 million.
Echo in the Canyon expanded into 14 locations this frame and grossed another $105,678 for a per-theater average of $7,548 and a domestic gross of $260,480. All is True grossed only $95,570 (a 29% drop from last weekend) from 81 locations for a per-theater average of $1,180 and a domestic gross to date of $469,770. Looks like this only be the fourth Kenneth Branagh directorial effort to gross under $1 million domestically. Mayday Life opened to $45,000 from 8 locations for a per-theater average of $5,625 while The Tomorrow Man grossed just $21,016 from 18 locations for a per-theater average of $1,168 and a domestic gross of $55,009.
Despite Godzilla: King of the Monsters underperforming, Aladdin’s strong holdover performance and successful bows for Rocketman and Ma allowed the top 12 movies this weekend to gross a total of $168.9 million, the third-biggest haul for the 22nd weekend of any given year. It’s also up a whopping 68% from this same weekend last year when Solo: A Star Wars Story topped the box office with a weak second-weekend performance. This strong weekend closed out May 2019 on a high note, as the month took in $1.077 billion, making it the second-biggest May in history. The domestic box office seems to have bounced back big time after its dismal January and February performances and it looks like the rest of Summer 2019 is likely to continue that winning streak, especially if any forthcoming blockbusters like Spider-Man: Far from Home or The Lion King have the good sense to make prominent use of Jean Reno.