Kong: Skull Island opens to $142.6 million worldwide

Warner Bros. and Legendary's Kong: Skull Island roared louder than expected in its North American box office debut, scaling $61 million from 3,846 theaters to beat Wolverine threequel Logan.

The film starring Britain's Tom Hiddleston, Oscar victor Brie Larson and the ubiquitous Samuel L. Jackson tells the story of a group of explorers on a mysterious island that happens to be Kong's domain. However, Skull Island had James Mangold's Logan standing in its way.

Despite glowing reception for Logan, X-Men star Hugh Jackman's third and final Wolverine spinoff fell roughly 57 percent from its opening number, dipping one slot to No. 2 with an estimated weekend gross of $37.9 million.

It was a battle of the beasts at the box office this weekend, and King Kong emerged as the definitive victor over Wolverine.

Kong hopes to restore the world's most famous ape to glory and build a new film franchise, with a Kong v. Godzilla already in the works. The first chapter, 2014's "Godzilla", opened to $93.2 million in the States before topping out at $529.1 million globally.

Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros.' head of domestic distribution, said the weekend "far exceeded everyone's expectations", and he predicts Monday actuals might come in higher than the estimated $61 million.

Because of its massive production and marketing costs, "Kong: Skull Island" will need to do roughly $500 million worldwide to be considered a success. The low-budget thriller about a black man whose visit to his white girlfriend's hometown takes a sinister turn picked up $21.1 million.

It has earned $111 million in three weeks of release - a fantastic return on its $4.5 million budget.

Rounding out the top five were the faith-based movie "The Shack", with $10.1 million, and "The Lego Batman Movie" with $7.8 million.

In just two weeks in theaters, "Logan" has brought in almost $153 million. Next weekend brings the release of "Beauty and the Beast", which should expand 2017's lead.

  • Todd Kelly