'Godzilla X Kong' scores big on opening day

Some movie stars never lose their luster. A 90-year-old ape and a 69-year-old reptile will rule the local charts this weekend, as Warner Bros.' “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” hits the ground running. and Legendary Entertainment to $37 million at 3,861 venues during opening day and preview screenings. It's an impressive debut that puts this monster mash-up ahead of the pace forecast earlier this week, which had pegged an opening north of $50 million.

The New Empire cost a whopping $135 million to produce, but it's on track and it's going big. Reviews have been mediocre — well below the somewhat positively received “Godzilla vs. Kong” in 2021 and far less than the rave praise that Japanese production “Godzilla Minus One” earned just three months ago. However, the fans are not affected. The kaiju team seems to be playing well in front of audiences, having received an “A-” grade from research firm Cinema Score.

Adam Wingard returns to direct “The New Empire” after helming “Godzilla vs. Kong,” with returning cast members including Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry and Kylie Hottl along with newcomers On the series are Dan Stevens and Vala Chen. These diminutive human scientists and fanatics travel the world as the two monsters of the same name emerge from the Hollow Earth and form a reluctant partnership to confront some gigantic enemies that threaten humanity.

With the release of a new fifth part in the series, Sony's “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” has become a little more frozen. The supernatural action-comedy will drop to second place for its second film, with an expected total of $15.5 million. For the three-day window. That would be 65% less. It's coming off a strong $45 million opening and is definitely behind its predecessor, the 2021 revival series “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” which is down just 45%. Now, “Afterlife” has benefited from showing Thanksgiving footage in its second weekend — traditionally a much busier movie holiday than Easter. If “The Frozen Empire” can't regain its footing, it will end up falling behind its predecessor, which grossed $129 million domestically.

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The third place is expected to go to the movie “Kung Fu Panda 3” produced by Universal, in close competition with Warner Bros. “Dune: Part Two.” “Panda” is looking to take in another $10 million in its fourth weekend, bringing its domestic total to more than $150 million. After outperforming 2016's “Kung Fu Panda 3” in North America, DreamWorks Animation's fourth installment now appears well-positioned to surpass the $165 million domestic cume generated by “Kung Fu Panda 2” in 2010. The 2008 original remains unchallenged, with revenues of $215 million.

Meanwhile, “Dune: Part Two” lost large-scale theaters to fellow legend/Warner Bros. Produced by “Godzilla x Kong”. Denis Villeneuve's sci-fi sequel is still holding up, and turning a profit $3.6 million on Friday, down just 20% from $4.4 million a week ago. The feature remains the biggest hit of the year and will reach $250 million domestically this weekend.

Neon's horror film “Immaculate” is looking to crack the top five, with industry rivals predicting a three-day total of $3.1 million. And a 41% drop to shock Sydney Sweeney. It will soon surpass $10 million domestically – a strong result for the modestly budgeted production.

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