LOS ANGELES (AP) - “Godzilla” has smashed its way to the top of the box office.
The 3-D monster movie from Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures had the second-largest debut of the year this weekend with $93.2 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.
“Godzilla” trails Disney-Marvel’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” which opened with $95 million in April, and sits just above “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” which debuted with $91.6 million this month.
Paying homage to the 60-year-old franchise in tone and spectacle, the latest iteration continues the legend of 1954 Japanese original - Ishiro Honda’s “Gojira.” Reviews of the film were positive - it earned a “fresh” rating from review aggregator RottenTomatoes.com, with 72 percent of film critics responding positively.
Legendary Pictures President Jon Jashni said the film did better than expected partly because it was “starting to get sampled even by those who didn’t think it would necessarily be for them. They didn’t have nostalgic feelings for it.” He said friends or family members likely recommended the movie to those viewers.
The film, directed by Gareth Edwards, also helped eliminate the bad memory of another of the franchise’s remakes, Roland Emmerich's “Godzilla,” released in 1998 and starring Matthew Broderick. Backed by Sony, the film opened with $44 million.
May is prime real estate for studios looking to launch or advance franchises. The top two opening weekends of all time in North America occurred in May - “The Avengers” opened with $207.4 million in 2012 and “Iron Man 3” debuted with $174.1 million in 2013.
It’s also the year’s biggest opening for Imax globally. It generated $103 million and 14.35 million admissions from 16,946 screens in 64 markets outside the U.S. and Canada.
“Godzilla” knocked last weekend’s No. 1 hit, Universal Pictures “Neighbors,” down to No. 2 in its second weekend.
The raunchy Seth Rogen and Zac Efron-led comedy earned $26 million, bringing its domestic total to $91.5 million.
Rounding out the top three was “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” with $17 million. So far it’s earned a total of $172 million domestically.
Also opening this weekend was Disney’s feel-good sports drama “Million Dollar Arm,” starring Jon Hamm, which landed at No. 4 with $11 million.