This image released by Paramount Pictures shows Taron Egerton as Elton John in a scene from “Rocketman.” (David Appleby/ Paramount Pictures via AP)

A diminished ‘Godzilla’ still bests ‘Rocketman,’ ‘Ma’

Dexter Fletcher’s fantastical Elton John biopic ‘Rocketman,’didn’t launch with the same bravado as Freddie Mercury biopic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

The latest iteration of the Godzilla franchise took over the top spot from “Aladdin” and roared louder than Elton John at the weekend box office, but it still left a notably smaller footprint on North American theatres than its city-wrecking predecessors.

“Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” Warner Bros. and Legendary Entertainment’s sequel to 2014’s “Godzilla,” was brought down to size by poor reviews and middling interest from moviegoers, selling $49 million in tickets, according to studio estimates Sunday.

While still good enough for No. 1, that total was $10-15 million off industry expectations and close to half of the $93 million debut of the previous “Godzilla” movie.

Still, the weekend, led by one of the most classic movie monsters, brought Hollywood’s summer season into full swing. Last week’s top film, Disney’s live-action, blue-Will Smith “Aladdin” remake, slid to second with $42 million in its second weekend. And a rush of newcomers, including the Elton John biopic “Rocketman” and the Octavia Spencer-led horror film “Ma,” swelled theatres with a variety of options.

Dexter Fletcher’s fantastical Elton John biopic “Rocketman,” starring Taron Egerton, didn’t launch with the same bravado as last year’s Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody.” But it opened solidly in third with $25 million. The weekend’s most profitable release, by percentage, was likely the Blumhouse Production thriller “Ma,” which made $18.2 million against a $5 million budget.

Even with a toothless “Godzilla,” the weekend was up drastically — 62 per cent, according to Comscore — from the same weekend last year, when the swiftly forgotten “Solo” was in its second weekend.

Part of the appeal of giant monster films from a studio standpoint is their popularity in Asia. This “Godzilla” fared best in China, opening there with $70 million. It made $130 million internationally overall.

But in Godzilla, some see a flagging franchise of unrealized potential. In its three recent blockbuster iterations going back to Gareth Edwards’ 1998 Sony release, none have drawn much praise from fans or critics. This latest one, directed by Michael Dougherty, has a 40 per cent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Warner Bros. is developing a face-off movie between Godzilla and King Kong, who was last featured in “Kong: Skull Island.” That 2017 release opened with $61 million and went on to make $566 million worldwide. Jeff Goldstein, distribution chief for Warner Bros., believes the $200-million budgeted “King of the Monsters” can keep drawing moviegoers to the studio’s ongoing monster franchises.

“The avid fans of Godzilla came out Thursday and Friday,” said Goldstein. “The real key for us is how broadly can we expand over the next couple weeks? Can we hold on to an interest that’s wider than the regular Godzilla fans? I think we can.”

In Godzilla’s shadow, counterprogramming thrived. Coming off its acclaimed premiere at the Cannes Film Festival , “Rocketman,” which Elton John executive produced, opened well if not spectacularly for Paramount Pictures. The R-rated biopic cost about $40 million to make.

VIDEO: ‘Green Book’ wins best picture at Academy Awards

Aiming to capitalize on the British singer’s worldwide appeal, the stars of “Rocketman” have circled the globe ahead of release. It added $19.2 million internationally. In Russia, the film’s local distributor cut out scenes depicting homosexual activity and drug use. John and the filmmakers criticized the move as “a sad reflection of the divided world we still live in.”

Though “Rocketman” shares much with “Bohemian Rhapsody” — including Fletcher, who helmed the Mercury film after Bryan Singer departed production — its makers have sought to distance it from last year’s Oscar-winning $900-million sensation.

“That movie is a unicorn,” Egerton said in Cannes. “Our movie is a different animal.”

“Ma,” fashioned by Blumhouse as the production company’s contemporary answer to “Misery,” reteams Spencer with “The Help” director Tate Taylor. Spencer’s first solo lead performance drew an especially diverse audience, 57 per cent of which was female.

“The best news this weekend was for the industry itself,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore. “Even if the top movie didn’t earn $100 million, we had a big up weekend and we need more of those to get out of this deficit that we’ve been in since basically the beginning of the year.”

The news, though, wasn’t good for “Booksmart,” the acclaimed teen comedy starring Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever. Amid its disappointing wide-release opening last weekend, director Olivia Wilde appealed on social media for fans to support a movie “made by and about women.” On its second weekend, “Booksmart” couldn’t turn it around, earning $3.3 million on 2,518 screens.

Overseas, Cannes’ Palme d’Or winner “Parasite,” a social satire from Korean director Bong Joon-ho, opened with $24.6 million. That was driven largely by stellar sales in South Korea where Bong’s raucous thriller easily outpaced “Godzilla.”

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theatres, according to Comscore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included.

1. “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” $49 million ($130 million international).

2. “Aladdin,” $42.3 million ($78.3 million international).

3. “Rocketman,” $25 million ($19.2 million international).

4. “Ma,” $18.3 million ($2.8 million international).

5. “John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum,” $11.1 million ($12.7 million international).

6. “Avengers: Endgame,” $7.8 million ($8.6 million international).

7. “Pokemon Detective Pikachu,” $6.7 million ($14.6 million international).

8. “Booksmart,” $3.3 million.

9. “Brightburn,” $2.3 million.

10. “The Hustle,” $1.3 million.

___

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theatres (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to Comscore:

1. “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” $130 million.

2. “Aladdin,” $78.3 million.

3. “Parasite,” $24.6 million.

4. “Rocketman,” $19.2 million.

5. “Doraemon: Nobita’s Chronicle Of The Moon Exploration,” $18.4 million.

6. “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” $17.2 million.

7. “Pokemon Detective Pikachu,” $14.6 million.

8. “John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum” $12.7 million.

9. “Avengers: Endgame,” $8.6 million.

10. “Happy Little Submarine: Space Pals,” $3.4 million.

___

Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

Jake Coyle, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

test tube with the blood test is on the table next to the documents. Positive test for coronavirus covid-19. The concept of fighting a dangerous Chinese disease.
Interior Health records third COVID-19 death

A new community outbreak was reported at Okanagan Men’s Centre in Lake Country

The Spences Bridge Improvement District is looking for someone to fill the position of fire chief, and is also looking for people willing to stand as a candidate for the SBID board; elections will take place at the AGM on Nov. 28. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
Candidates for trustee, fire chief wanted in Spences Bridge

Elections will be held during Spences Bridge Improvement District AGM on Nov. 28

Looking west from the Mesa to the Ashcroft Reserve at the start of the Elephant Hill wildfire, July 7, 2017. Students at Desert Sands Community School are looking to interview locals about their direct experience with the 2017 wildfires. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
Students looking for people to share their 2017 wildfire stories

Desert Sands Community School students want to speak with residents about wildfire experiences

BC 2020 election graphic
Elections BC estimates 52% of BC voters cast a ballot this year

Results are down from 2017, and final counts will have to wait until mail-in ballots are tallied

An operator works to clear the culvert at Quartz Road in Cache Creek during flooding in April 2020. The Village of Cache Creek is looking for local contractors who want to go on a list for any work (emergency and non-emergency) that is needed. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
Village of Cache Creek calling all contractors willing to work

Plus a Halloween drive-in movie event, an AGM, Christmas market news, and more

Physical distancing signs are a common sight in B.C. stores and businesses. THE CANADIAN PRESS
272 more COVID-19 cases for B.C., outbreak at oil sands project

Three new health care outbreaks, three declared over

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

Most Read