Kong movie stands tall in new tent-pole season

Kong: Skull Island fetched about $86 million in North America.
Kong: Skull Island fetched about $86 million in North America.PHOTO: WARNER BROS PICTURES

LOS ANGELES • As Hollywood has focused on making lumbering, all- audience movies stuffed with visual effects - Kong: Skull Island, which arrived last Friday, being a prime example - movie studios have run into a problem: where to put them all.

Summer and the winter holidays used to be ideal because of school holidays. Then big-budget season expanded into May and April. And now, after edging into March in recent years, studios are treating the month as if it was July, releasing one major-franchise "tent-pole" on top of the next.

Is there enough room? Or will cannibalisation set in? Kong: Skull Island (Warner Bros), arriving one week after hit superhero movie Logan (20th Century Fox) and a week before the juggernaut expected to be Beauty And The Beast (Disney) - which will immediately precede Power Rangers (Lionsgate) - seemed to answer yes to both questions.

Kong: Skull Island took in about US$61 million (S$86 million) in North America - a strong result, but not a spectacular one - with holdover competition from Logan likely having an effect.

Logan, starring Hugh Jackman as the X-Men mutant, Wolverine, was second for the weekend, collecting about US$37.9 million, for a two- week domestic total of US$152.7 million, according to comScore, which compiles box-office data.

Kong: Skull Island, starring Brie Larson and Tom Hiddleston beside various computer-generated creatures, benefited from strong reviews and word-of-mouth.

Mr Jeff Goldstein, Warner's president of domestic distribution, also credited the studio's promotional machinery.

"Our marketing was brilliant," he said. "It made it look like popcorn - fun and exciting."

As for the busy March corridor? "I really loved the date," Mr Goldstein said. "This is the beginning of a six-week rolling spring break."

Kong: Skull Island, produced by Legendary Entertainment, a division of Chinese conglomerate Wanda, cost an estimated US$185 million to make and at least US$100 million more to market worldwide.

The movie, directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, has collected US$81.6 million more overseas.

While its profitability is still a question given its enormous cost, it ended Legendary's string of critical and box-office clunkers in North America, including Warcraft and The Great Wall.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2017, with the headline 'Kong movie stands tall in new tent-pole season'. Print Edition | Subscribe