“Kong: Skull Island” roared to $3.7 million at Thursday previews.
Heading into the weekend, independent trackers estimated that “Kong” will make between $45-50 million in its opening weekend. They also expected a box office battle between the film and Fox’s “Logan,” which opened to $88.5 million last weekend. For “Logan” to hold on to the top spot, it will likely need to keep its second week drop-off below 45 percent.
“Kong: Skull Island” puts a new spin on the tale of how humans discovered the mysterious Skull Island and the ape who rules over it. The film takes place in 1973, where a secretive government organization called Monarch funds a military expedition to the island to discover its secrets. There, the team finds a WWII lieutenant (John C. Reilly), who has been living on the island with natives for 28 years and knows about the unending battle between Kong and the “skull crawlers,” a race of hostile giant reptiles who wiped out Kong’s species. As the expedition crew struggles to survive, some begin to realize that Kong is a monster worth protecting.
The blockbuster stars Reilly, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman and Brie Larson. Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, the film is produced by Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, Mary Parent and Alex Garcia.
“Kong: Skull Island,” produced for a hefty $185 million before marketing costs, has solid reviews so far. It is rated “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes with 79 percent.
“Kong: Skull Island” is Legendary and Warner Bros.’ second film after “Godzilla” in their monster franchise. “Godzilla” opened in previews to $9.3 million on a Thursday in 2014, and went on to earn $94 million in its opening weekend.
“Kong: Skull Island” is the first film to feature the famous ape since Peter Jackson’s “King Kong” in 2005. The other films announced in their partnership are “Godzilla 2” and “Godzilla vs. Kong.”
The monster film is the only wide release this weekend, but the specialty market will see two critically-praised newcomers get a limited release. First is “Raw,” the directorial debut of French filmmaker Julia Ducournau, while the other is “Sense of an Ending,” a film adaptation of James Barnes’ award-winning novel of the same name.