China Pushes ‘Kong: Skull Island’ Past $500 Million at Worldwide Box Office

“Kong” has proven to be a rare Western film with staying power in China, beating a market filled with local offerings

King Kong has proven to be a moneymaker for Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures once again, as “Kong: Skull Island” has passed the $500 million mark at the worldwide box office thanks to a strong yields in both the U.S. and China. The film now currently has $509 million, with almost 60 percent of that total coming from those two markets.

“Kong” surprised some in Hollywood a month ago when it blew away both tracker expectations and its main competitor, “Logan,” with a $61 million domestic opening. After four weekend frames, the film has now passed $150 million domestically.

Then “Kong” got another boost from its Chinese release, which saw the film get the second-biggest opening of 2017 in that market with $72 million. The film had the advantage of strong local support from the Dalian Wanda Group, which purchased Legendary last year, and internet company Tencent, which co-financed the film.

But what has really allowed “Kong” to soar to a half-billion is Legendary’s smart move to release the film in China on March 24, a week after the release of the attention-consuming “Beauty and the Beast” and a week prior to China’s Qingming festival, a popular weekend for going to the movies. While many western exports face a heavy drop-off after their opening weekend, “Kong” had the added appeal of being a monster movie, a genre that has done very well in China. “Pacific Rim” made $112 million in China four years ago, while Legendary’s last monster flick, 2014’s “Godzilla,” enjoyed a $32 million second frame after a $36 million opening.

But “Kong” has blown by the Chinese totals for both films, reaching $150 million on Thursday. It’s especially impressive when you consider the fact that despite suffering a heavy second weekend drop to $23.5 million, it still won the Qingming weekend over local titles like “Extraordinary Mission” and “The Devotion of Suspect X.”

The film has also performed well in other Asian markets, taking No. 1 in Japan with a $3.5 million opening and becoming the highest-grossing picture of all time in Vietnam, where much of the movie was filmed.

King Kong will return in 2020 with “Godzilla vs. Kong,” the crossover event that led to “Skull Island” being moved from Universal to Legendary so a showdown between Japan and America’s most famous giant beasts could duke it out. Prior to that, Legendary will set up the showdown with “Godzilla: King of Monsters,” which will star Millie Bobby Brown of “Stranger Things” fame.