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'Godzilla vs Kong' Passes 'Tenet' to Become U.S. Box Office's Top Pandemic Film

Legendary blockbuster reached $60 million in domestic grosses on Friday

In a sign of the slowly increasing strength of the domestic box office, Warner Bros./Legendary's "Godzilla vs. Kong" has reached $60 million in domestic grosses after 10 days in theaters, passing the U.S. theatrical run of "Tenet" to become the highest grossing domestic film since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the film is facing a significant dropoff from its strong five-day opening -- the $3.88 million grossed yesterday is a 67% drop from last Friday -- its ability to sell out theaters stuck at a 25% audience capacity limit due to COVID safety restrictions has renewed efforts by the movie theater industry to increase the number of theaters reopened and to lobby state health officials to increase the capacity limit to 50% or higher, as has already been the case in Los Angeles, San Francisco and all theaters in Texas.

As of last weekend, approximately 3,000 theaters in the U.S. have reopened. It is unclear how many of the roughly 2,000 theaters that have not reopened will be able to do so as a significant number are expected to have been forced out of business for good by the pandemic. COVID-19 variants have also halted the reopening process in Canada and are also providing similar problems in American hotspots like Michigan and the New York City/tri-state area.

Given the steep drop this weekend, it is looking like an uphill battle for "Godzilla vs Kong" to become the first film to gross over $100 million in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic. But it is on pace to become the first Hollywood film to cross $400 million globally since "Bad Boys for Life" over a year ago. When it hits that milestone in the coming week, it will have passed the $365 million earned by "Tenet" last fall, when theaters in Europe and Asia were starting to reopen while their American counterparts struggled to do the same. Currently, "Godzilla vs. Kong" is enjoying robust turnout from Asian markets like China that have returned to full strength but has not been able to release in most areas of Europe, where COVID-19 variants are causing widespread outbreaks.

To date, only two films have grossed over $500 million at the global box office, both coming from an explosive Lunar New Year holiday period in China. "Detective Chinatown 3" was first with a $686 million global gross, but was quickly surpassed by the time travel film "Hi, Mom," which grossed $821 million almost entirely from Chinese moviegoers.