‘Godzilla’ Sequel Disappoints, but Leaves a Bigger Footprint Overseas

LOS ANGELES — Even Godzilla needs a rest.

The hard-working lizard, trudging back to wide release in North American theaters for a fifth time in “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” managed to sell about $49 million in tickets over the weekend, enough for first place. But the Legendary Entertainment sequel will nonetheless go down as the first big-budget disappointment of Hollywood’s summer season.

“King of the Monsters” cost at least $170 million to make, not including $100 million (plus) in global marketing costs. Initial ticket sales in the United States and Canada fell behind those for its series predecessor by 47 percent, according to Comscore data. Critics were not kind. “Beyond the awesome destruction, it’s not easy to build the character, story, emotion — the glue that sustains a series — when it’s all about the monster,” said David A. Gross, who runs Franchise Entertainment Research, a movie consultancy.

But there is no rest for the weary in today’s franchise-fixated film business, in part because monsters still draw big crowds overseas, where Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah and pals collected about $130 million over the weekend. “Godzilla vs. Kong” has already been scheduled for release in March.

“Aladdin” (Disney) was a strong second in its second weekend. It took in about $42 million at theaters in North America, for a new total of $185 million ($446 worldwide).

The R-rated musical fantasy “Rocketman,” about Elton John’s breakthrough years, collected an estimated $25 million in third place for Paramount Pictures. The studio said that the zany bio-musical took in an additional $19 million in 40 overseas markets, lifting its international total to $31 million.

Imagery of gay sex and a credits sequence involving Mr. John’s husband and children were censored in Russia. In a statement on Twitter, the singer called the censorship a “sad reflection of the divided world we still live in and how it can still be so cruelly unaccepting of the love between two people.”

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