Godzilla X Kong Just Set A MonsterVerse Record At The Box Office

"Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire" is off to a downright excellent start at the box office. The latest entry in Warner Bros. and Legendary's ongoing MonsterVerse franchise serves as a follow-up to 2021's "Godzilla vs. Kong," with the two titular Titans reluctantly teaming up to take down a bigger threat. It turns out that audiences are still very much on board with these movies, so much so that the latest installment pulled in a record-breaking $10 million during Thursday night preview screenings. This bodes very well for the movie's opening weekend prospects.

That $10 million figure represents a new record for the MonsterVerse, topping 2014's "Godzilla," which took in $9.3 million in preview grosses in its day en route to a whopping $93 million opening weekend. In comparison, 2017's "Kong: Skull Island" took in $3.7 million in previews before opening to $61 million, while 2019's "Godzilla: King of the Monsters" fell in the middle with $6.3 million in previews before posting a so-so $48 million opening. As for "Godzilla vs. Kong," that movie opened mid-week on a Wednesday when the pandemic was a much larger factor, with the film also releasing on HBO Max in North America the same day it hit theaters.

At the time, "Godzilla vs. Kong" opened to $48.5 million through its first five days of release, which helped save theaters when they needed it most. In any event, pre-release tracking suggested that director Adam Wingard's "The New Empire" was looking to pull in somewhere in the neighborhood of $50 million on its opening weekend. Given how much it made from preview screenings, that number now seems to be far more conservative. While it may not touch the $93 million gross of "Godzilla," it is almost certainly going to exceed prior expectations.

Godzilla continues to help the box office

This is all made even better because Wingard managed to be relatively thrifty with this one. "Godzilla x Kong" comes with a $135 million budget (before marketing), in defiance of modern blockbuster logic. That makes it the cheapest movie in the MonsterVerse to date and one of the cheaper tentpole Hollywood blockbusters in recent memory, with $200 million budgets having become an accepted norm. WB and Legendary stand to benefit greatly from not overspending here.

Wingard previously directed "Godzilla vs. Kong" and is the first filmmaker to return for multiple entries in the franchise. Gareth Edwards directed "Godzilla," Jordan Vogt-Roberts helmed "Skull Island," and Michael Dougherty tackled "King of the Monsters." Whether or not another installment happens beyond this remains to be seen, but it wouldn't be surprising to see Wingard back for a third go-around given how well things are going under his watch. Critics have been a bit more mixed on the movie (read /News's "Godzilla x Kong" review right here) but audiences are clearly digging what Wingard has to offer.

Looking at the slightly larger picture, this is the second time in recent months that Godzilla has come to the rescue at the box office. Last year's "Godzilla Minus One" became a very unexpected hit, taking in more than $100 million worldwide, with more than half of that money coming from U.S. ticket sales. Perhaps the buzz from that one carried over, with audiences looking to scratch that kaiju itch. Whatever the case, these monsters continue to crush it.

"Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire" is currently playing in theaters.