We’ve had our eye on Kong: Skull Island ever since it first hit theaters. Not only was this yet another take on the classic tale of Kong, but it was an entry in the newly-dubbed MonsterVerse, which had its humble beginnings in the 2014 Godzilla film. As such, not only did it have to do well enough to recoup its costs, cut it also had to do well enough to justify the upcoming Godzilla sequel and impending Godzilla vs. Kong flick.
Its opening weekend was a relatively modest $61 million (compared to Godzilla’s $93 million opener), and it became clear that the film would need to have strong legs in the coming weeks in order for its success to be determined. Here we are nearly a month following its release, and the answer still isn’t so clear.
First off, I think it’s worth saying that the studios are, from what we can tell, still going forward with this universe full steam ahead. Godzilla: King of Monsters is still slated for 2019, and Godzilla vs. Kong is still likely hitting theaters soon after in 2020. Having just crossed $500 million, I think it’s safe to say that Kong has crossed the line that make Legendary and Warner Bros hesitant about moving things forward. But let’s break down the numbers really quick.
According to Box Office Mojo, Kong: Skull Island cost a reported $180 million to make. General rule of thumb is that print and advertising costs match that number, or come close to it. With that in mind, let’s set a clearance number of $350 million in order to make a profit. Now, that’s $350 million going to the studio, not total. We have to remember that theater chains also take a cut of the gross, so we have to take that into account as well.
While this isn’t exact, I usually go by the rule of thumb that a studio sees roughly 66 percent of the gross. Again, that’s not exact, and each film is different. Every film has a different deal, and different studios can cut different deals for themselves. Generally, that cut the studio gets decreases with each week the film is in theaters, so it’s impossible for us to get an exact figure. But, assuming that general rule of 66 percent, that mean of their $500 million worldwide gross, the studio is only seeing $315 million, meaning that they’re still in the hole about $35 million.
They’ll still be making a bit more at the box office before its run is up, and once you take into the account what they’ll be making down the line in home sales, it’s highly likely they’ll finally make a profit, if they haven’t already. But is it enough?
In order to fully understand if this is good enough, I suppose we have to look at the overall goal Legendary and Warner Bros had with this film. First off, we have to acknowledge that, yes, their goal was to make money. Had this flick cracked $1 billion at the box office, they wouldn’t be complaining by any means. However, as with many franchises-in-the-making, one film isn’t necessarily their endgame.
Their endgame lies in Godzilla vs. Kong. Did Kong: Skull Island sufficiently gear up audiences for another Godzilla flick, and the eventual clash between it and Kong? Critics seem to have generally responded positively to the film, and despite the middling box office response, audiences also seem to be positive about their experience in the film. That people actually like the film is a big deal, and if the studios work hard, they can make sure the next films are equally as good, or better, so as to continue garnering good faith.
While it’s easy to poo-poo that philosophy, we have to remember that outside of the Iron Man films, none of the Phase 1 Marvel Studios pictures knocked it out of the park. Thor made just short of $450 million on a $150 million budget, and Captain America: The First Avenger made $370 million on its $140 million budget. While Marvel Studios didn’t make huge money off those flicks, they continued to build the good faith they’d started with Iron Man, and the real payoff for the studio came with The Avengers in 2012, a solid four years after the first film launched.
I suppose the answer here is twofold.
No, the film did not likely meet the expectations of the studios when it comes to the box office. That being said, the response audiences have had could very much work in their favor. So long as Godzilla: King of Monsters builds on this response and continues the narrative of fun movies, they may be able to get more butts in seats in their next outing. By the time their “Avengers” are clashing on the big screen, they’ll have built the foundation for them to make next-level money.
This wasn’t a home run for them, instead a stepping stone, and when all said and done, that may be a much better thing for them in the long run.
What do you think? Is $500 million at the worldwide box office enough to get excited about? Let us know your thoughts down below!
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