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Box Office: ‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire’ Roars With $10 Million in Thursday Previews

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Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” is looking mighty as it heads into its opening weekend, earning an impressive $10 million in Thursday previews.

The muscular results come despite the fact that the film suffered meh reviews — critics faulted the latest clash of the primordial titans for hectic pacing and overstuffed plotting. Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman, for instance, dismissed the film as “overly busy boilerplate” (though he liked the finale). And yet audiences don’t seem to care about the middling notices. “Godzilla x Kong: New Empire” scored the best preview results of any entry in Legendary’s Monsterverse series, just ahead of 2014’s “Godzilla,” which earned $9.3 million while kicking off this whole scaly saga.

Warner Bros. and Legendary Entertainment co-produced “New Empire,” which cost $135 million. It was initially expected to open to a sizable $50 million to $55 million and could bring in between $80 million to $85 million at the international box office. If those projections hold, “New Empire” has a good chance of being a hit for the companies, all but ensuring we haven’t seen the last of Godzilla, Kong, Mothra and the rest of this merry band of frequently exploited IP. Last year saw the release of “Godzilla Minus One,” which was produced by Toho and was not part of the Monsterverse. It went on to gross more than $100 million on a $12 million budget and won an Oscar for its visual effects.

Adam Wingard, who oversaw 2021’s “Godzilla vs. Kong,” returned to direct “The New Empire.” His previous installment opened to a much-lower $31 million, but it also debuted simultaneously on HBO Max and during COVID. “Godzilla vs. Kong” was the biggest opening weekend of that unhappy era. “The New Empire” features Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry and Dan Stevens and finds Kong and Godzilla (last seeing duking it out) teaming up to prevent a powerful, climate-threatening force from destroying Earth.