Reports of movie theaters’ demise may be slightly exaggerated. For one weekend, at least, a film sold something resembling the number of tickets that we used to expected from blockbusters prior to the days of the coronavirus and Covid-19.

The film was Godzilla vs. KongDespite the fact that movie is currently streaming on HBO Max, it still wound up with the best opening weekend ticket sales of any film since the beginning of the pandemic. The film grossed $32.2 million over the weekend, and $48.5 million when factoring in Wednesday and Thursday ticket sales as well. Both of those numbers beat experts’ predictions by a wide margin.

Here is the full weekend box office top five, via The Numbers:

  1. Godzilla vs. Kong - $32.2 million
  2. The Unholy - $3.2 million
  3. Nobody - $3.0 million
  4. Raya and the Last Dragon - $2.0 million
  5. Tom and Jerry - $1.4 million

As those sales indicate, movie theaters are still far from back to normal. Typically, you’d expect to see more than one film bringing in audiences, but last weekend it was Godzilla vs. Kong and almost nothing else. (The other four movies in the top five combined to gross less than a third of what Godzilla vs. Kong did on its own.) Still, if there’s good news to be gleaned here it’s this: Even when a movie is widely available at home, people will show up — even when a pandemic is still raging in many areas — if it’s something they think really deserves to be see on a big screen. Obviously, Godzilla vs. Kong fit the bill.

It’s early to predict what that means for the future of the movie theater industry in general, but it does seem like when all is said and done, theaters may become the place for big movies and big movies only, because that’s the stuff audiences are willing to pay $15 for. More intelligent, subtle, nuanced fare, which was already an endangered species in multiplexes, may only exist in the world of streaming moving forward.

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