'Godzilla' tramples rivals with monster $93 million debut

Sun May 18, 2014 7:29pm EDT
 
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By Lisa Richwine and Chris Michaud

LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK (Reuters) - "Godzilla," a remake of the classic Japanese monster movie, crushed its box office competitors over the weekend, devouring $93.2 million at U.S. and Canadian theaters for the year's second-biggest debut and spawning plans for a sequel.

The smashing performance makes the film a hit for Legendary Pictures, the independent studio headed by Thomas Tull that financed 75 percent of the $160 million production, and its partner Warner Bros., which said the new take on "Godzilla" was on its way to becoming a franchise.

The giant lizard trounced second-place finisher, Seth Rogen comedy "Neighbors," which led sales a week ago and earned $26 million from Friday through Sunday, ahead of superhero sequel "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" with $16.8 million, according to estimates from tracking firm Rentrak.

"Godzilla" added $103 million in international markets where it opened on Wednesday for a global total of $195 million, said Warner Bros., a unit of Time Warner Inc.

The movie is the latest Hollywood remake of the 1954 Japanese film about a mutant monster created when U.S. nuclear weapons testing goes awry. The new film stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson as a naval officer who battles the rampaging beast from Hawaii to San Francisco.

"Godzilla" roared past industry forecasts which called for an opening of about $70 million. Its $93.2 million nipped at April's $95 million debut for "Captain America: The Winter Soldier".

Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution for Warner Bros., said the film played well in all markets, which boded well for more Godzilla films down the line.

"We have a franchise in the making, and we're looking at sequels as we speak," Fellman said.   Continued...

 
Cast members Bryan Cranston (L), Elizabeth Olsen (C) and Aaron Taylor-Johnson pose at the premiere of "Godzilla" at the Dolby theatre in Hollywood, California May 8, 2014.  REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni