AT&T (T) - Get Report shares bumped higher Monday after 'Godzilla vs. Kong', a WarnerMedia blockbuster, posted the strongest box-office debut since the pandemic with a weekend tally that was more than double Wall Street forecasts.
North American receipts for the film, the fourth in the MonsterVerse series from Legendary Entertainment, came in at $48.5 million for the five-day release that reached 3,000 U.S. and Canadian theatres, adding to the $71.6 million earned in international cinemas. The U.S. performance even outpaced the 2019 debut of "Godzilla: King of the Monsters", which earned $478 million over its first three days.
The overall total for the Adam Wingard-directed epic, which opened last week, is now over $280 million.
The breadth of the release, as well as its popularity with theatre-goers despite its simultaneous release on AT&T's HBO Max, looks to be a solid precursor for a summer film season that could revitalize both consumer and media businesses in the months ahead.
AMC Entertainment (AMC) - Get Report -- the biggest operator of both U.S. theatres and IMAX Corp (IMAX) - Get Report screens -- also got a boost from the headline-grabbing take, with B. Riley analyst Eric Wold lifting his price target on the stock to $6, to $13 a share, citing an improved "cash runway" and a stronger balance sheet.
"We believe consumers want to leave the house and return to the theater and these results are very telling especially considering that the movie was available for free to HBO Max subscribers at the same time as the theatrical release," Wold wrote. "And as the largest exhibitor in North America that also operates the highest number of premium IMAX screens, we view AMC as well positioned to benefit from the industry’s projected resurgence and return to pre-pandemic attendance levels by 2023."
AT&T shares were marked 0.7% higher in early trading Monday to change hands at $30.69 each. AMC Entertainment, meanwhile, jumped 6% to $9.90 each.
Last month, AMC said it would re-open all of its 25 theatres in Los Angeles county, along with locations in 56 different cities around the state and various major metropolitan areas around the country, "with the highest devotion to the health and safety of our guests and associates."
Data from the Centers for Disease Control Sunday indicated that more than 61 million Americans have been fully-vaccinated, with more than 160 million doses delivered amid the accelerating vaccine rollout.