Follow Us on Twitter

King Kong off to 'slow start' in US

King Kong

Story by Jack Foley

PETER Jackson’s King Kong may have raked in $50.1m (£28.3m) at the US box office on its opening weekend, going straight to No.1 in the process, but industry experts have described the figures as ‘a slow start’.

The epic enjoyed one of the biggest launches in US film history and was expected to open nearer the $90m mark (£50.8m) – but it took $9.8m (£5.5m) on its opening day last Wednesday (December 14, 2005), as compared with $18.2m taken by Jackson’s Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring in 2001.

However, the film’s distributor, Universal Pictures, said it was thrilled with the film’s global debut, where it has topped the international box office by taking $80.1m (£45.2) in five days over 55 non-US territories.

The remake opened at number one in 53 markets, thereby giving the studio its biggest international opening – and the film industry’s ninth biggest of all time.

King Kong roared to $11.9 (£6.7m) at the UK box office, $7.3m in France and $6.1m in Germany. Denmark, Israel, Argentina and Thailand were among the countries in which the movie marked the biggest opening weekends of all time.

In the US, the opening figures did boost box office fortunes for the second week in a row and put them an estimated 22% above last year’s figures.

The Chronicles of Narnia fell to second place in the chart, with just over $30 million in its second week. The figures provided plenty of cheer in an otherwise dismal year for box office returns in the US.

As for Kong’s ‘slow start’, US box office experts identified several factors that may have worked against the film, including children still being in school and the fact that it is not a sequel.

But Marc Shmuger, vice-chairman of Universal, maintained that the three-day haul for King Kong beat the comparable $44.2m figure for the 2001 Rings movie and was confident that word of mouth would help turn the epic into one of the biggest of all-time.

He went on to insist that positive reviews had helped build up weekend audience figures, particularly among women, who made up 47% of the audience by Saturday – and that they would continue to contribute to the film’s audience.

History also indicates that some of the most popular Hollywood films have had slow US openings. Titanic, for instance, opened in December 1997 with $28m – it is now the highest grossing film of all time.