Godzilla vs. Kong” muscled its way to a pandemic-era box office record, giving Hollywood studios and theater owners alike hope that people are ready to return to the movies after a year of watching Netflix at home.

The tentpole, from Warner Bros. and Legendary Entertainment, generated $32 million over the weekend and $48.5 million in its first five days of release. That exceeded the industry’s expectations and easily marked the biggest debut since coronavirus hit. Prior to this weekend, “Wonder Woman 1984” had the biggest three-day start with $16.7 million, followed by “Tom and Jerry” with $14 million.

“Godzilla vs. Kong” played in 3,064 North American cinemas, the widest theater count since the pandemic began. The turnout among ticket buyers was especially impressive because the film is also available to HBO Max subscribers for no extra fee. Without providing any specific statistics or metrics, the studio said “Godzilla vs. Kong” had a “larger viewing audience than any other film or show on HBO Max since launch.” In Canada, where 80% of the market is still closed, “Godzilla vs. Kong” was released simultaneously on premium video-on-demand and made $3 million through various digital platforms.

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