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“Godzilla vs. Kong” proved that buzzy new movies can sell tickets, even if they’re already available to watch at home.

After months of new releases bringing in lackluster box office ticket sales, “Godzilla vs. Kong” racked up $48.5 million in its first five days in theaters. It was the best showing, by a landslide, for a movie since the pandemic struck.

At the same time, “Godzilla vs. Kong” was offered on HBO Max, the streaming service owned by WarnerMedia, for no extra charge to subscribers. A monthly subscription to HBO Max costs $15, which is roughly the same price as a single movie ticket in major cities.

It’s the kind of hybrid release that would have seemed impossible to pull off prior to the pandemic. Today, it’s the clearest indication yet that COVID-19 has forever changed how movies will be distributed. And the results have left Hollywood questioning what the film’s success means for the future of moviegoing.

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