'Kong' Crowned Box-Office King: 'Skull Island' Tops 'Logan' With $61M

By Pamela McClintock, The Hollywood Reporter

Warner Bros. and Legendary’s Kong: Skull Islandroared louder than expected in its North American box office debut, scaling $61 million from 3,846 theaters to beat Wolverine threequel Logan.

Kong hopes to restore the world’s most famous ape to glory and build a new film franchise, with a Kong v. Godzilla already in the works. The one major caveat: The movie, costing at least $185 million to make before a major marketing spend, will likely need to earn $500 million globally to land in the black.

Heading into the weekend, Kong was expected to earn $45 million-$50 million. Crossing the $60 million threshold is no doubt a big relief for Warners and Legendary. Kong is the second title in their monster universe after Godzilla, which debuted to $93 million in May 2014. That film ultimately earned $529 million worldwide against a production budget of $160 million.

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Kong, boasting a 78 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, is the first Hollywood studio movie featuring the iconic ape since Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong, which opened to $50 million. (Jackson’s film was infamous for costing north of $200 million.) Skull Island garnered strong reviews for a 78 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes; audiences were less keen, awarding it a B+ CinemaScore.

This time out, the story is set entirely on the island where the animal resides alongside a bevy of other oversized creatures. Skull Island, directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts in his first studio assignment, is set in 1973 at the end of the Vietnam War, when a government agent assembles a team to investigate the mysterious, fog-shrouded locale. The ensemble cast includes Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson and John Goodman.

Kong faces the challenge of being sandwiched between Logan — which debuted to a rousing $88.3 million last weekend, far ahead of expectations — and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. In particular, the Kong team didn’t expect Logan to have such sharp claws (both tentpoles are competing for males).

Falling to No. 2, Logan grossed an estimated $37.9 million for a decline of 57 percent, a good showing for a fanboy-driven title. The R-rated movie has earned nearly $154 million domestically. The final title in the Wolverine series cost around $100 million to produce.

Jordan Peele’s maverick horror film Get Out continued to scare up strong business for Universal and Blumhouse, placing No. 3 with an impressive $21 million in its third weekend and jumping the $100 million mark domestically. Get Out cost under $5 million to make.

Lionsgate’s faith-based title The Shack, starring Octavia Spencer and Sam Worthington, and Warners’ The Lego Batman Movie rounded out the top five.

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Among new offerings at the specialty box office, IFC’s Personal Shopper, directed by French filmmaker Olivier Assayas and starring Kristen Stewart, debuted to $92,516 from four theaters in New York and Los Angeles for a screen average of $23,129.

Filmmaker Ritesh Batra’s The Sense of an Ending, starring Charlotte Rampling and Jim Broadbent, also debuted in four cinemas in N.Y. and L.A., earning $42,000 for a theater average of $10,500 for CBS Films.

The latest documentary to take on the Church of Scientology didn’t fare so well. My Scientology Movie, from BBC journalist Louis Theroux, took in $10,568 from the ArcLight Hollywood — which isn’t far from the church’s Hollywood outpost and celebrity center — for a disappointing average of $5,284.