Godzilla Vs Kong: miracle Hollywood needed

The response to Godzilla Vs Kong has been largely positive, but considering the way Covid-19 is tearing through the world, I doubt the film will break any records.

That aside, the reviews have been so positive so far that I expect the movie to exceed performance expectations on HBO Max. CNN is already calling it the biggest hit of the pandemic. The $20m it was projected to make in the USA over the Easter weekend would have attracted scoffs in an ideal year. But the world is still reeling from the effects of coronavirus.

Hollywood is hungry for blockbuster hits. Even when vaccines started rolling out, studio executives were hesitant to celebrate the development because pundits in the industry had spent months proclaiming the death of cinema.

Several surveys also suggested that moviegoers were hesitant to leave their homes to watch movies. They had spent too much time feeding their thirst for entertainment with the content provided by streaming services to return to the cinema; not with the exorbitant costs associated with watching movies on the big screens.

But with Godzilla Vs Kong, fans are rushing to the cinema to watch it in far greater numbers than expected. I keep using the word ‘film’ because I know it rubs film snobs the wrong way. Though, suffice it to say, I do not agree with Martin Scorsese’s suggestion that blockbusters such as Godzilla VS Kong are not real cinema.

But without these action-heavy CGI-infused projects, people would just stay home. Though, for the longest time, I was convinced that this particular sub-genre of movies was dead.

Kaiju movies excited the public when they first debuted. I thought that the novelty of the concept, the idea of giant monsters rampaging in cities, would sustain this new corner of the movie industry for years.

But I was wrong. Kaiju films tend to underperform. Godzilla 2014 made $529 million on a budget of $160 million, which is decent.

Godzilla: King of Monster was not as lucky, making $386 million on a budget of $200 million. Blockbusters of this scale spend well over $100m on marketing. So, the budget is closer to $400 million. Also, the studio only gets a fraction of the money made from ticket sales. The rest goes to the cinemas.

Kong: Skull Island did better, making $566m on a budget of $185 million. Pacific Rim, which kickstarted this whole sub-genre in 2013 made just $411m on a budget of $200 million. The sequel, Pacific Rim: Uprising, was a box office failure, raking in a paltry $290m on a budget of $176m.

It doesn’t make financial sense to pour money into Kaiju films. Rampage 2018 featured Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson, a trusted box office attraction, and yet it barely made its money back.

If Godzilla Vs Kong had not exceeded every expectation, 2021 would have marked the death of the Kaiju sub-genre. I was skeptical of the movie before I saw it but it was everything I could have hoped for.


© 2016 Observer Media Ltd