"Godzilla vs. Kong": Box office results and what they might tell us about this summer's movies

Promotional poster for the film. Uploaded for commentary and review.

If circumstances were just a little bit different, it would probably be odd for “Godzilla vs. Kong” to be anything other than an average action movie. It’s just two giant monsters brawling for two hours—how could anything about that be important? However, this summer movie season is a little different than usual. Last year’s summer movie season was practically non-existent, as the pandemic forced theaters to shut down and studios to postpone their upcoming releases. However, this year may turn out different. With vaccinations ramping up, things are looking much brighter for the industry. 

Amidst all of this, “Godzilla vs. Kong” smashes into theaters this week. Vaccination rates in this country are at an unexpected high, possibly encouraging many moviegoers to go to the theater. While this does not mean that the health risk of COVID-19 has gone away, many states are lowering restrictions. Whether or not this is good for public health, more and more theaters are beginning to reopen. Additionally, with sunny weather around the corner, people will undoubtedly  be crowding into cinemas once more.

“Godzilla vs. Kong” is expected to make more than 20 million dollars this upcoming weekend. While that number would be considered low under normal circumstances, it is a considerably large profit during the pandemic. 

So, King Kong and Godzilla seem to be making just as much of an economic impact in the real world as they probably will a destructive one on film. It is impossible to know whether this would’ve been the case a little over a year ago, but there are a few reasons behind this success. One, the movie was just made to be fun. Having spent over a year indoors, people are dying to go out and forget their troubles. Don’t expect many indie movies and arthouse films to be among the most profitable films of the year.

Second, it's part of a cinematic universe. Cinematic universes allow for people to get invested in these characters in previous movies. People will be more willing to shell out the cash to go to a movie if they are genuinely concerned about what happens before going in. While by no means as popular as Marvel’s, this cinematic universe has had enough successful installments to suggest that people want to see the story continued. This installment can be considered the culmination of the previous Warner Brothers’ monster movies. So, why wouldn’t a fan of “Kong: Skull Island” or “Godzilla” want to see it?

Last, and most importantly, it’s the kind of movie that’s made to be seen on a big screen. I don’t just want to watch Godzilla push a building onto King Kong, I want to experience it. Any movie about two giant monsters extensively fighting is probably best seen on a big screen—and moviegoers know that! Sure, they could watch it on HBO MAX, but that’s not what they want. 

We’ll see how the pandemic progresses in the coming months, but if we truly can trust the light we see at the end of the tunnel, then soon we can all go back to normal. The way things are looking right now, movie theaters seem to be heading for a comeback of sorts this year. Soon, we may all be able to safely see Godzilla breathe nuclear fire on the big screen. What could be better than that?


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