Godzilla vs. Kong success suggests audiences may be ready to return to theaters

While films like "Tenet" and "Wonder Woman" failed to draw audiences in a world caught in the throes of the pandemic, Godzilla and Kong have found overwhelming success. Photo Courtesy WarnerMedia

The movie theatre experience was thrown to the wayside early in the COVID-19 pandemic. Packing a room with people, likely without masks to enjoy drinks and popcorn, just didn’t make sense. Films released during 2020 found very little success, and many studios pushed their films further and further, no one knowing when the public would feel comfortable attending movie theatres again. Even with vaccines being rapidly administered, in Alaska and throughout the United States, it still seemed unclear when the right time would be. The overwhelming success of “Godzilla vs. Kong” suggests it may be sooner than later. 

“Godzilla vs. Kong” released Wednesday, Mar. 31, taking advantage of the Easter weekend. In America, the giant monsters brought home nearly $50 million by the end of its opening weekend. These numbers don’t hold a candle to the totals films were pulling before the pandemic, like “Avengers: Endgame,” which had earned $357 million domestically by the end of its opening weekend. However, compared to other films released during the pandemic, it’s a shining beacon of hope.

Veteran director Christopher Nolan hoped to lead the charge back into movie theatres with his film “Tenet,” refusing to allow a streaming option when the film was released in theatres Aug. 12, 2020. Tenet opened to less than $10 million. “Wonder Woman 1984” was the next to take up the cause, and superheroes are a pretty safe bet. The DC superheroine only brought in $17 million when the film released on Christmas day. 

At $50 million, “Godzilla vs. Kong” made more domestically in its opening weekend than either “Tenet” or “Wonder Woman 1984” did in their entire runs. This is a great sign for movie theatres in America, indicating that an increasing number of people are ready to get back into theatre seats. It’s also worth noting that “Godzilla vs. Kong” accomplished this despite being available to stream at home with an HBO Max subscription. Audiences clearly want to see the big spectacle on the big screen.

April is a quiet month for movies, the only big-budget film being released is “Mortal Kombat.” President Biden has announced that every American will be eligible for a vaccine on Apr. 19, and it seems studios are willing to bet that audiences will be ready to come back to theaters in May, with films like “Cruella,” “A Quiet Place Part II” and “Peter Rabbit 2.” Starting in June, a big movie is releasing every weekend, a streak maintained into Feb. 2022.

There are four Marvel Studios films scheduled to be released in a span of only five months, July to November; “Black Widow,” “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” “The Eternals” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” Tentpole films “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Dune,” “No Time to Die,” “Halloween Kills,” Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” “Resident Evil,” “The Matrix” and plenty more are releasing only weeks apart from one another. The younger demographic is set to be well served too, with films like Disney’s “Encanto,” as well as new entries in “The Boss Baby,” “Hotel Transylvania,” “The Addams Family” and “Sing.”

In Anchorage, Century 16 is the only theatre currently open and showing movies. The three other theatres, Regal Cinemas’ Tikhatnu Stadium 16, Dimond Center 9 and Totem 8 are all closed, per Regal Cinemas policy, with no opening on the horizon. Around Anchorage, Coming Attractions’ theatres are open, the Valley Cinema in Wasilla and the Kenai Cinema in Kenai. 

Cinemasafe is a program created by a coalition of theatres to establish rules for safe moviegoing. All of the major theatres in Alaska are compliant with Cinemasafe standards. Photo Courtesy Cinemasafe

All three chains, Cinemark, Regal and Coming Attractions are members of Cinemasafe, an initiative that sets a standard for cleaning procedure, crowd control and other COVID mitigation measures, designed to help convince the public that movie theaters could be safe during the pandemic.