For months now, the COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged the world at large, forcing many to question: what will things be like when it’s over? Will small businesses rebound? Will people continue to work remotely? Now, more than a year into the pandemic, we may be starting to form a picture of a post pandemic world. Now that Godzilla vs. Kong has become the highest grossing film to be released during the pandemic, many analysts are changing their view on what a post pandemic theatre market will look like.
When theatres were forced to close last year due to state guidelines, some feared that they may never open again, while others suggested that they wouldn’t be as popular as they once were. The signs were all there with theatre attendance slowly dwindling, prior to the pandemic, year after year, many in the general public were very vocal that they would rather watch new films on Netflix or Disney+ then go out to the nearest theatre.
Universal Studios, Disney and WarnerMedia worked on new ways to get new movies into the homes of viewers. Universal made some of their movies available day and date with VOD platforms. Disney created a premium tier for movies such as Mulan and Raya and the Last Dragon. WarnerMedia made the biggest overhaul by releasing all of their 2021 film slate in theatres and on HBO Max for no extra cost. Many were looking at this as the end of the theatre system altogether. The theatre system is going to change in a post pandemic world, most everything probably will, but there is now proof that it will not go away anytime soon.
Godzilla vs. Kong has made an estimated $69,500,000 domestically, at the time of this writing, and $288,300,000 internationally, making its total gross $357,800,000. Any other year, that wouldn’t be great for a film that cost almost $160 million to make, but it’ll be the first film to break even during the pandemic. Wonder Woman 1984, Tenet and The Croods: A New Age all ended their theatrical runs without breaking even (Which means making only twice its budget back). Those films did well during the pandemic, but they still ended their runs at a loss.
WarnerMedia’s success with Godzilla vs. Kong means that their model of day and date streaming on HBO Max is a success as it drives millions to their service to see new films, without significantly impacting their theatrical revenue. The film was streamed by 3.6 million households on its release weekend (a new record for HBO Max) and saw a pandemic record box office. Clearly audiences aren’t just ready to return to the theatre, but hungry for it. Now perhaps, it’ll take a while for films like the Oscar nominated The Father to do any significant numbers in theatres again, but Godzilla vs. Kong is proof positive that the theatre industry can, and will, bounce back after the pandemic is over. When given the chance, audiences would have rather seen it on the big screen than at home. Admittedly, HBO Max is not available in most international territories yet, so it’s hard to tell if that would have impacted the film’s international gross, but it’s unlikely since monster films do better overseas than in the U.S.
It’s hard to believe that right now Godzilla vs. Kong is on track to do better than the last film in Legendary’s MonsterVerse, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, on a normal year, let alone one where a significant number of theatres are closed and the ones that are open have reduced capacity. It cannot be overstated how Godzilla vs. Kong’s box office performance is a sign of a bright future for theatres.