‘Godzilla x Kong’ Won’t Be Challenged at Box Office By ‘First Omen’ or ‘Monkey Man’

Expect Warner Bros./Legendary’s “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” to continue its reign at the box office, as newcomers “The First Omen” and “Monkey Man” seek smaller theatrical gains in the shadow of the MonsterVerse.

Riding strong word-of-mouth and a higher than expected $80 million domestic launch, “The New Empire” is looking at a second weekend total of around $35 million, which would be a 55% drop. While not the excellent $46.2 million and 44% drop that fellow Legendary release “Dune: Part Two” earned in its second weekend last month, it would be a respectable showing for the fifth installment in the crossover-creature series.

Meanwhile, “The First Omen” and “Monkey Man” are going to be in a tight race for second place on the charts. Trackers are giving “The First Omen,” a Disney/2oth Century horror title, the edge with a $14-15 million opening weekend while “Monkey Man,” a thriller acquisition being distributed by Universal, is tracking for an opening of around $12 million.

“The First Omen” marks Disney’s debut on the 2024 slate after taking the first quarter off due in part to production delays from last year’s strikes. It is a prequel to the 1976 classic horror film “The Omen” and the sixth film in that series — the first since the 2006 remake directed by John Moore.

While Disney has been known over the past decade for focusing on massive tentpole films — to great success until a bumpy 2023 — 20th Century has become an avenue for the studio to distribute low and mid-budget horror for a modest theatrical profit. “The First Omen” carries a reported budget of around $30 million, a break-even bar that it should be able to clear even though it will have direct competition from Universal film “Abigail” on April 19.

“Monkey Man” holds a unique spot on Universal’s slate, as Dev Patel’s action film was supposed to be a streaming exclusive film for Netflix. Instead, Universal acquired the film for a reported $10 million via Jordan Peele’s production company Monkeypaw. The “Get Out” director was so impressed by the film he felt it deserved a theatrical release and used Monkeypaw’s distribution deal with Universal to make it happen.

As it is only on the books for the acquisition and distribution costs, the break-even point is very low for Universal and Monkeypaw on “Monkey Man,” and it enters theaters with overwhelming praise from its SXSW premiere, sporting a 95% Rotten Tomatoes score.

In some respects, “Monkey Man” is looking at an opening rather similar to the $14.4 million opening that the first “John Wick” — a film that, like “Monkey Man,” was produced by Thunder Road Films — earned back in 2014. Earning a cult following amid a modest $86 million global box office cume, “John Wick” ballooned into one of Lionsgate’s biggest franchises, with its fourth installment grossing $440 million worldwide last year.

“Monkey Man” is a long way from replicating that level of success, but like “Wick,” it is building that strong early buzz and could develop a loyal fanbase of its own. If it does, it is a credit to director and star Patel, but also to Peele and to the stable of filmmakers that Universal has assembled.

While franchises form the foundation of the studio’s box office fortunes, the likes of Peele, Christopher Nolan, David Leitch, Elizabeth Banks, and the duo of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert are among those whom have set up camp at Universal. That Peele has built up enough influence to convince the studio to take a bet on “Monkey Man” shows how filmmaker voices are having an impact at Universal as they choose what non-IP projects to take a risk on.

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