Monday Morning Quarterback, Part II
By BOP Staff
May 21, 2014
Edwin Davies: How did Warner Bros. manage such an amazing opening for Godzilla? How well do you think the film will do from here, considering how solid the reviews have been in comparison to the divided word-of-mouth?
Bruce Hall: The trailers were intriguing and atmospheric. They cast respected actors. They teased the monster - hey, they got the roar right! They released a trickle and then a stream of images as the release date grew closer. Now, it's clear they got the monster right. He's fighting what, they said? It flies? Now I've GOT to see this!
As much as people chuckle at the classic Godzilla films, with their rubber suited monsters and cardboard sets, I think most of us have secretly harbored a desire to see it done really well. And it was clear early on that at least the look and the tone of the movie were going to be worth checking out. I feel Warner Brothers did a very good job of building up interest across a broad base and that if you're going to "Americanize" a Godzilla movie, even before it was released it looked like they'd taken a solid crack at it. More people were impressed than even I would have thought, and I was as giddy as a child going in. I've now lived long enough to see both Star Trek AND Godzilla crack the mainstream.
What a time we live in.
Matthew Huntley: Because I reacted so strongly to Godzilla, I find it hard to believe the general audience reaction could be this polarized. Then again, it takes all kinds, and the movie may not be everyone's cup of tea. Despite the coming of X-Men next weekend, I think Warner Bros. can still get a solid second weekend for their summer tent pole and continue to attract good crowds. It helps that next week is Memorial Day, and even though we'll likely see huge drop-offs for the film after that, I'm hoping $250 million is still in the cards domestically, which would be enough to cover its production budget and much of its P&A, because I'd definitely welcome a sequel (so long as it was handled with as much care and detail as this one).
Felix Quinonez: I think a lot can be attributed to the great marketing effort put forth by the studio. The trailers were great in building excitement without revealing too much but more important, it made it clear that they were treating Godzilla with respect. Even after all these years the character is a cultural icon and I believe that if done right, people will line up to see a Godzilla movie and the opening gross seems to support that. It kind of reminds me of 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The apes also had a somewhat cheesy past and a much loathed recent big screen outing but the studio was able to win back audiences by doing a great marketing job and putting out a quality film.
I think that it will hold well but not great. It has big competition next weekend but because it's Memorial Day weekend, there will be a lot of money to go around at the box office.
Edwin Davies: I think it's interesting to compare the performance of Godzilla to Warner Bros. and Legendary's previous attempt at making a monster movie, Pacific Rim. It's not an apples-to-apples comparison - Pacific Rim, by introducing mecha on top of kaiju, probably featured a geek hurdle too many for most audiences - but I think you can see in their respective approaches why one made almost as much in three days as the other did in its entire domestic run. Pacific Rim put its monsters up front in its ads and tried to wow through spectacle, whereas Godzilla's marketing was very withholding. It focused primarily on the destruction wrought by Godzilla and the other monsters as well as the looks of terror and awe on the faces of the people caught up in the damage. It's a very Spielbergian tactic, and I think that mixing a sense of terror and wonder with the idea of Godzilla as a disaster movie really brought people in who might have been skeptical if the ads had been just monsters hitting each other.
At the same time, I think that approach might hurt the film going forward since most of the negative reactions I've seen have been from people complaining that the film is not exactly what was promised in the trailer. It's that age-old conundrum that audiences constantly complain that all blockbusters look and feel the same and aren't surprising, yet as soon as a film comes along that doesn't quite match what they wanted they complain about how different it is. With an opening like this, I can't see the film losing momentum completely, even up against heavy hitters like the X-Men, but I wouldn't be surprised if only just makes it into the low $200 million range domestically. That's still a great success, especially since it'll probably earn twice that overseas, but it might still suffer from the danger of subverting audience expectations.
Max Braden: The excellent trailer(s) for Godzilla is evidence for what good editing can do when you have enough material. The mixed buzz I'm hearing though makes me less confident in the legs of the movie. It wouldn't surprise me if Godzilla struggles to pass $250 million. That's partly due to the buzz, but also due to immediate competition offered from X-Men this coming weekend, and then Transformers four weeks later.
Jay Barney: I think I am shifting my thoughts to the upper end of the possible final numbers, but that tilt is partly because of the massive opening haul during the first weekend. I don't believe competition next weekend is really going to hurt. It is the Memorial Day frame and all movies receive a bit of a bounce. I think it is entirely possible that Godzilla is north of $175 million by the end of the holiday break. It already has $93 million in the bank. If it averages $4 million a day during the week, it'll be at $110 million. Is it possible it earns $65 million over Memorial Day? That might be ambitious, but let's remember Memorial Day is one of the biggest movie weekends of the year.
The international numbers will be amplified as well. With the foreign numbers doing better than the domestic numbers....this is going to be huge.