The Culture Movies First Look

King Kong scales weekend box office with 'Kong: Skull Island'

The new movie 'Kong: Skull Island,' the latest take on the famous 'King Kong' story, had a strong opening weekend, coming in first against competition such as the 'X-Men' film 'Logan' and the horror movie 'Get Out.'

'Kong: Skull Island' stars Tom Hiddleston (l.) and Brie Larson (r.).
Chuck Zlotnik/Warner Bros. Pictures/AP
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Superhero Wolverine was no match against the might of King Kong.

The new film “Kong: Skull Island” coming in No. 1 at the box office and grossing even more than industry watchers predicted, showing that the film’s new take on an old story was intriguing to audiences.

“Kong: Skull Island,” which has a large cast including Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston, Corey Hawkins, John Goodman, and Tian Jing, among others, is the latest remake of the classic 1933 “King Kong” story but brings the action to the time period during the Vietnam War. 

Previous Kong movies also include a 1976 version starring Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange, and director Peter Jackson’s 2005 film starring Naomi Watts and Adrien Brody. 

“Kong” grossed $61 million domestically this weekend. Meanwhile, “Logan,” the latest “X-Men” movie which had opened on March 3, came in second, grossing more than $37 million domestically this past weekend. 

The well-reviewed horror movie “Get Out,” which opened in February, placed third, taking in more than $21 million this weekend. Meanwhile, the religious film “The Shack,” which originally opened earlier in March, placed fourth, grossing more than $10 million, while “The Lego Batman Movie,” a holdover from February, took in more than $7 million this past weekend and placed fifth. 

“Kong: Skull Island” wasn’t quite as critically well-received as Mr. Jackson’s 2005 version. But some critics were impressed by the decision to set the “King Kong” story in 1973, resulting in a film that Monitor film critic Peter Rainer called “a kind of loony mashup of ‘King Kong,’ ‘Moby-Dick,’ and ‘Apocalypse Now.’” (Mr. Rainer found the decision to set the film then to be “inspired.”) Perhaps the new take on the story intrigued moviegoers too. 

Beyond the fresh historical setting, the movie still has the King Kong character, which Entertainment Weekly writer Joey Nolfi says could have been the draw for audiences. “The mightiest primate in cinema history ultimately flexed his staying power at the head of one of the oldest franchises (one that spans movies, theme park attractions, video games, and toys) in Hollywood history,” Mr. Nolfi wrote of the box office results. 

But did coming out in March – what was previously a sleepy month at the box office – actually hurt the movie's box office performance because of all the competition? “Kong: Skull Island” and “Logan” are both high-profile, effects-heavy blockbuster hopefuls, and now Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” which is expected to do extremely well financially, will arrive on March 17. 

“After edging into March in recent years, studios are treating the month as if it was July, releasing one major-franchise ‘tent-pole’ on top of the next,” New York Times writer Brooks Barnes wrote. Mr. Barnes notes that "Kong" opened "a week before the juggernaut expected to be 'Beauty and the Beast'" and finds the opening weekend results for "Kong" to be "a strong result but not a spectacular one, with holdover competition from 'Logan' likely having an impact."

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