Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire opens to $80 million.

Los Angeles — Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire defied predictions with a $80 million opening on 3,861 North American theaters, according to Sunday studio estimates.

Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures' monster merger starring Rebecca Hall and Brian Tyree Henry had the second-highest opening in a strong year, trailing only “Dune: Part 2”'s $81.5 million. Opening weekend projections for “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire,” which teams the monsters instead of fighting, were closer to $50 million.

“It’s a cinematic event, and we’re seeing these iconic characters do things we’ve never seen them do before,” said Legendary chairman of worldwide production Mary Parent. “There are big swaths of the film that don't have any dialogue, where we put you with the characters, it's mythic.”

Last week's No. 1, "Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire," was second with $15.7 million for $73.4 million in two weeks. Dune: Part Two remained strong in its fifth week, finishing third with $11.1 million and $252.4 million domestically.

The last Warner Bros. and Legendary film, 2021's "Godzilla vs. Kong," had a $48.5 million opening weekend, but for a film slowed by the coronavirus pandemic and released simultaneously on HBO Max, it was a promising sign for the pairing. Parent: “It was a really big number all things considered.

MonsterVerse's second-biggest opening was the new flick. “Godzilla” earned $93.2 million in 2014. The creature that began and spent most of its screen existence in Japan had its biggest hit in nearly 70 years. Profits exceeded $200 million in North America and $500 million worldwide.

“Godzilla x Kong” follows the Oscar-winning and critically acclaimed “Godzilla Minus One” by four months. Audiences were willing to pay more for IMAX and other formats, so there was no Godzilla oversupply. “These are literally two of the biggest movie stars in the world, and you have to see them on the biggest screen with the biggest sound,” said Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

Godzilla x Kong,” “Dune Part Two,” and “Ghostbusters” have put the year 6 percent behind 2023, while it was 20 percent behind on the eve of “Dune.” “The industry was feeling pretty glum right before ‘Dune Part 2’ opened, but they’ve made up a lot of ground,” Dergarabedian added.

The summer is loaded of potential smashes, including Ryan Gosling's “The Fall Guy” and the next chapters of “Planet of the Apes,” “Mad Max,” “Inside Out,” and “Deadpool.” That gives the theatrical movie sector hope, but it's unlikely to surpass 2023, when “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” crossed $1 billion globally. 

Dergarabedian stated “‘Barbenheimer’” is a once-in-a-lifetime event. Comscore estimates U.S. and Canadian theater ticket sales for Friday through Sunday. Final domestic figures are due Monday.

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