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Godzilla vs. Kong is already a box office sensation around the globe, but the movie just hit theaters in the United States, where the box office hasn’t quite returned to normal. However, that’s not stopping the epic monster battle from smashing records, even if they’re not the hardest records to break. Godzilla vs. Kong officially has the record for the biggest box office opening of the pandemic after opening in just over 2,400 theaters yesterday.

Deadline reports that Godzilla vs. Kong raked in an estimated $9.6 million on opening day. That’s not a huge number for this kind of blockbuster, but it’s easily enough to crush the opening of any other movie that hit theaters during the pandemic. It certainly overtakes Wonder Woman 1984, which earned $7.5 million on Christmas Day.

It remains to be seen if this kind of business will grow as we head into the weekend. Since the movie theater business isn’t anywhere near normal right now, we don’t know if attendance is front-loaded for opening day with a less enthusiastic turnout this weekend. Before these numbers, opening weekend across five days was expected to be somewhere between $20-$30 million. But this opening day number indicates that the weekend could be even bigger, especially since the movie will soon expand into 3,064 theaters.

The other wild card for predicting Godzilla vs. Kong‘s box office performance over the weekend is the fact that the movie has also debuted on HBO Max, and it will be hanging out there for the rest of April. That could keep viewers, even those who have been vaccinated, from going to the movie theater. After all, even though the vaccine is being spread far and wide, audiences are still hesitant to head back to the movie theater. Plus, sitting in a theater with a mask on isn’t quite as appealing as the comfort of your home.

But even if the domestic box office doesn’t end up being much bigger than projections, this still bodes well for the return of movie theaters as the COVID-19 vaccine continues to be distributed and we return to normal. People are clearly eager to get back into movie theaters, and the movies will be waiting for them when they’re ready.

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