“Aladdin” exceeded box office expectations with a $116.8 million Memorial Day weekend, but its lasting power in theaters will be challenged as the next two weekends will be loaded with new releases that will cater to family and musical-loving audiences that served as the Disney remake’s core demographic.
But the film projected to take No. 1 this weekend has more stomping and smashing than singing. Warner Bros. and Legendary are back with the third installment of their MonsterVerse series, “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” which is projected for an opening this weekend in the $55-65 million range. Critics have been mixed on the film, giving it a 56% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
That’s notably lower than the $93.1 million start earned by last American “Godzilla” released in 2014, but the film at least has a chance to match the $61 million opening earned by “Kong: Skull Island” in March 2017. That film went on to gross $161 million domestic and $566 million worldwide, and a similar result for “King of the Monsters” would set up next year’s “Godzilla vs. Kong” to earn even greater numbers. If “Godzilla” manages to pass $600 million worldwide, it will become the first creature feature outside the “Jurassic Park” franchise to do so.
“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” sees the famed beast return to do battle against some of his most famous rivals, led by the three-headed dragon King Ghidorah. Through it all, humanity is stuck struggling to survive the onslaught, while the mysterious Monarch agency does its best to learn how to communicate with the creatures.
The film stars Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, Aisha Hinds, O’Shea Jackson Jr., David Strathairn, Ken Watanabe and Zhang Ziyi. Michael Dougherty directed from a script he co-wrote with Zach Shields.
Another film releasing this weekend that’s serving as a somewhat more direct competitor to “Aladdin” is Paramount’s “Rocketman,” a musical biopic based on the life of Elton John. The film has received positive reviews from its Cannes premiere with an 88 percent Rotten Tomatoes score and inevitable comparisons to last year’s smash hit, “Bohemian Rhapsody.” But it’s unlikely that “Rocketman” will match the Freddie Mercury biopic’s record success with a $25 million projected opening, with Paramount projecting an $18-20 million start.
Still, “Rocketman” has strong overseas potential as fans of Elton John and his music are likely to show up not just in the U.K. but in theaters worldwide. Paramount is banking on the film holding long legs as word of mouth of its upbeat and psychedelic musical numbers spreads. If it does that, a $400-500 million global theatrical run on par with “The Greatest Showman” may be possible, even with an R rating that was personally pursued by Elton John himself.
“Rocketman” stars Taron Egerton as the famed English pop star, with “Bohemian Rhapsody” co-director Dexter Fletcher helming the film. Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, and Bryce Dallas Howard also star, with Lee Hall writing the script.
Finally, Universal and Blumhouse will release “Ma,” the horror debut of Octavia Spencer. Starring the Oscar winner as a woman who charms her way into the lives of a group of high schoolers she becomes obsessed with, “Ma” is projected for a $20 million opening, with Universal projecting a start in the mid-teens against a $5 million production budget. Tate Taylor is directing from a script written by Scotty Landes.