News

Godzilla vs. Kong By the Numbers: Who's The True King – According to the Data?

Nerd out with a deep dive into their Tomatometer and Audience Score stats, box office receipts, destruction bills, and more... all in an effort to declare a definitive victor!

by | March 31, 2021 | Comments

Nearly 60 years ago in 1962, King Kong and Godzilla squared off in Japan, and King Kong shoved a giant tree into Godzilla’s mouth. The two would engage in a back-and-forth battle that featured atomic breath and lightning strikes, and King Kong would ultimately leave the grueling brawl victorious. The Ishirō Honda-directed film, King Kong vs. Godzilla, was the third Godzilla film produced by Toho Studios, and it was a wildly ambitious crossover event that was a smashing success in Japan, as it sold 11.2 million tickets during its initial theatrical run. In other words, audiences went bananas for it.

Decades later, both Godzilla and King Kong have appeared in dozens of movies and animated series that have seen them battling three-headed monsters, genetically-modified roses with sharp teeth, and New York concrete. The two haven’t shared a screen together since that colossal battle in 1962, which is why the upcoming Godzilla vs. Kong feels like such an epic event. To get to this brawl, Legendary Studios embarked on a kaiju-sized film series called the “MonsterVerse” that kicked off in 2014 with Godzilla (2014), then continued with Kong: Skull Island (2017) and, most recently, Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019). The three films have set the chess pieces, and now the two gigantic titans will tussle for the ultimate checkmate.

King Kong vs. Godzilla

(Photo by Everett Collection)

In honor of their rematch, we rewatched the King Kong vs. Godzilla Versus episode that was released in 2019 and analyzed their filmographies in an attempt to crown a statistical champion based on box office receipts, property destruction, amount of screen time, and Tomatometer and Audience scores. Two monsters (and their many variations) enter, and only one leaves (unless there’s a tie, in which case, come back for the rematch).

*Quick note – Not all of the King Kong and Godzilla films have Tomatometer scores or reliable box office data. That’s why the numbers fluctuate in each round. Also, we’re sticking to feature-length films, and leaving out the animated series that both have appeared in.


Round 1 – Tomatometer

Godzilla vs. Destoroyah

(Photo by TriStar courtesy Everett Collection)

It’s only fitting that we kick off the battle with an incredibly close match-up in which the Tomatometer averages are separated by a measly 3.8%. Both franchises started off really well as 1933’s King Kong (Certified Fresh at 98% on the Tomatometer) and 1954’s Godzilla (Certified Fresh at 93%) were both blockbusters that wowed people with their innovative photography and beautiful miniature sets. However, the quality of the films began to mirror one of Godzilla’s fights — He’s winning! He’s losing… He’s winning! He’s losing…

What sealed the deal for Godzilla’s victory is the 0% score for 1986’s King Kong Lives. The movie famously tells the story of what happens after Kong survives the fall from the Empire State Building. In short, he gets a heart transplant, eats some alligators, finds a soulmate, and fathers a child. The dreaded 0% Tomatometer score reeks about as much as Godzilla’s atomic breath, and it took 29 years before Peter Jackson’s Certified Fresh King Kong put the titan back on the big screen in 2005.

Godzilla: 1 – Kong: 0


Round 2 – Audience Score

  • Godzilla: 59.5% average (33 films)
  • King Kong – 46.8% average (8 films)
  • Highest rated: Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, 95%
  • Lowest rated: King Kong Lives, 17%
Godzilla vs. Destoroyah

(Photo by TriStar courtesy Everett Collection)

With an almost Fresh 59.5% Audience Score average, Godzilla wins another round. With a 2-0 lead, this competition is starting to feel like the first matchup between Godzilla and King Kong in King Kong vs. Godzilla, in which King Kong brought rocks to an atomic heat ray fight.

Godzilla’s deeper bench once again proved to be the game changer, as low-rated movies like Godzilla (1998), Godzilla: The Planet Eater (2019), and Godzilla’s Revenge (1971), were offset by beloved films like Shin Godzilla (2016), Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) and Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989). What’s slightly surprising is that Peter Jackson’s King Kong has a 50% Audience Score, and only Kong: Skull Island (2017) and King Kong (1933) have scores above 65%. There’s not much audience love for Kong, but based on the 72.6% Audience Score average for the MonsterVerse films in general and early critical buzz for Godzilla vs. Kong, it’s possible that both of the big fellas could add another solid Audience Score to their tallies.

Godzilla: 2 – Kong: 0


Round 3 – Box Office

  • King Kong: $180 million average (4 films)
  • Godzilla: $152 million average (4 films)
  • Highest grossing: King Kong (2005), $310 million
  • Lowest grossing: King Kong Lives, $11 million
King Kong (2005)

(Photo by (c)Universal courtesy Everett Collection)

We have ourselves a match! This round was difficult to tally because the majority of Godzilla and Kong films did not have reliable box office data. This meant we had to stick with domestic earnings for the eight films that received wide theatrical releases. It’s nice that the two were finally on a level playing field, and that allowed Kong to pull the victory.

The win in this round wasn’t a fluke, as the “Kong Big Three” — King Kong (1976), King Kong (2005), and Kong: Skull Island — pulled in over $710 million domestically (adjusted for inflation). The $710 million total easily bests the $590 million that Godzilla (1998), Godzilla (2014), and Godzilla: King of the Monsters grossed in the United States. The lone highlight for the Godzilla squad is that its lowest-grossing film, Godzilla 2000, earned a $17 million dollar box office which was more than the $11 million that King Kong Lives grossed.

Godzilla: 2 – Kong: 1


Round 4 – Screen Time

  • King Kong: 22.1% of runtime on average (8 films)
  • Godzilla: 14% of runtime on average(32 films)
  • Film with most screen time: King Kong Lives, 33.6%
  • Film with least screen time: Invasion of Astro-Monster, 6%
King Kong Lives

(Photo by ©DeLaurentiis Entertainment Group courtesy Everett Collection)

We broke this round up into percentages of screen time. If a monster is on-screen for 30 minutes of a 100-minute film, it means they’re on-screen for 30% of the film’s running time. If we simply added up screen time it wouldn’t be fair as Godzilla has been in many more movies. So, we found and utilized some very reliable sources and prior Rotten Tomatoes editorials to come up with our numbers (the latter also explains why more on-screen time is better in monster movies).

Godzilla and Kong’s first films gave us a clear clue as to who would be victorious in this round. In 1933, King Kong ran amok for 18 of the film’s 125 minutes. In comparison, Godzilla was only on-screen for eight minutes of his 98-minute debut in 1954. Then, in 1962 when they battled, King Kong appeared for 16 minutes while Godzilla only popped up for nine. Historically, Kong has always enjoyed more screen time, and the trend continues in the MonsterVerse, as Kong is on-screen for 14 minutes in Kong: Skull Island, while Godzilla can only be seen for 22 combined minutes in Godzilla (10) and Godzilla: King of the Monsters (12). Kong wins!

Godzilla: 2 – Kong: 2


Round 5 – Property Destruction

  • King Kong: Estimated $1.5 billion (adjusted for inflation) – The destruction of Atami Castle was very expensive. Also, trains aren’t cheap. Throw in damage (or destruction) to theaters, cars, helicopters, the city of Atami in general, tanks, streets and sidewalks, trolleys, and airplanes, and you have easily over $1 billion in damages.
  • Godzilla: We don’t even know where to begin – He has destroyed numerous cities, including Tokyo multiple times. The submarine he destroyed in Godzilla (1998) is worth $900 million alone.  Dwayne Johnson and his 13 trillion in damage would be jealous.
Godzilla (2014)

(Photo by ©Warner Bross. Pictures)

Between Tokyo, San Francisco, Hawaii, New York City, Fukuoka, Tokai, Osaka, Yokohama, Nagoya, Paris, Kyoto, Tateyama and about a dozen other cities, Godzilla has done his best to keep construction crews working around the world. His worldwide tussles and rampages have caused trillions of dollars in damage, as multiple cities, bridges, and skyscrapers have had to be rebuilt (multiple times). On top of destroying cities, Godzilla has also laid waste to expensive Antarctic laboratories, nuclear submarines, and iconic bridges that cost billions to build. Every time Godzilla takes a step, he leaves a massive footprint in the concrete, which is impressively costly in itself. The trillions of dollars in repairs are no exaggeration, as analysts suggest that just one attack on Tokyo would cost up to $815 billion in damages.

While vastly mismatched here, though, King Kong is no slouch, as he’s wrecked his fair share of buildings and helicopters. His battle with Mechani-Kong in King Kong Escapes wreaked havoc on Tokyo, as skyscrapers, houses, and other buildings were flattened. Also, his destruction of the Atami Castle in King Kong vs. Godzilla cost a lot of money, as Japanese castles can cost up to $766 million to build. Let’s not forget that he’s caused a ton of damage in New York City on multiple occasions, as he’s left skyscrapers in need of repair and cable cars flattened. So, while he hasn’t come anywhere near Godzilla in regards to destruction, he has nothing to feel bad about. He’s smashed a lot of things, too.

Godzilla: 3 – Kong: 2


Round 6 – Most Impressive Victory

King Kong vs. Godzilla

(Photo by Everett Collection)

Despite the fact that Godzilla has battled dozens of monsters and won, King Kong gets the point here for actually defeating Godzilla in King Kong vs. Godzilla. What makes Kong’s win impressive is that he got the win away from home against a larger, stronger opponent. Not only that, he was drugged before the fight to make his transportation easier, which means he was probably drowsy and dehydrated after the long journey. Do yourself a favor and watch the original fight. It’s a legit bunkhouse brawl that features the two monsters rolling in the dirt and winging sloppy punches at each other — it’s beautiful.

It’s worth noting that Godzilla has the greatest bragging rights here because of what he did in Godzilla: Final Wars. The 2004 film features him defeating Gigan, Zilla, Kumonga, Kamacuras, Rodan, King Caesar, Anguirus, Ebirah, Hedorah, and Keizer Ghidorah. Godzilla ran through a who’s-who of monsters, and the movie ended with him pulverising Keizer Ghidorah with the deluxe version of his red spiral atomic breath.

Kong’s victories against Mechani-Kong, the skullcrawlers, dinosaurs, water creatures, and snakes are all super impressive, and he deserves to win this round for the upset he pulled on Godzilla. That said, Godzilla knows that what he accomplished in Final Wars is legendary, and we don’t think he’ll lose any sleep over this one.

Godzilla: 3 – Kong: 3


Tiebreaker Lightning Round

Best Fight: King Kong vs. the Tyrannosaurus Rex in King Kong (1933)

King Kong (1933)

(Photo by Everett Collection)

You might be thinking we’re joking, but the Kong vs. T-Rex brawl in King Kong is a legendary piece of work — and it features the first time Kong is seen fighting… anything. Also, props to Kong for landing a sweet single-leg takedown during the fight. It’s actually quite realistic, and still looks great today.

Godzilla: 3 – Kong: 4


Better Evolution: Godzilla

Godzilla (1985)

(Photo by ©New World courtesy Everett Collection)

Kong has always been something of a sympathetic, misunderstood character, but since his first appearance in 1954, Godzilla has gradually progressed from angry irradiated sea monster to Earth’s protector. Not bad, and his turnaround wins him the round easily.

Godzilla: 4 – Kong: 4


Best Villain: Godzilla – Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

(Photo by ©Warner Bros.)

We know that the humans in King Kong are horrible, and their greed leads to the death of Kong (many times in the various films). However, no human is as villainous as Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, who made his first appearance in the 1964 film Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster. Ghidorah is the ultimate villain because it would destroy the world and laugh about it while Godzilla lies defeated at its feet. It’s an easy win, and it seals the deal for Godzilla.

Godzilla: 5 – Kong: 4

Godzilla Wins!


There you have it! After a grueling battle, Godzilla emerges victorious and wins the decision. Will the new film mirror these results? Could it change the outcome? We’ll just have to wait and see.


Godzilla vs. Kong is in theaters and on HBO Max on March 31, 2021.

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

Tag Cloud

IFC Epix BET Awards TV Sneak Peek CMT DGA blockbuster fresh golden globe awards DC Universe sports true crime BBC One Ovation psycho LGBTQ WGN Discovery Channel 99% Elton John Turner new star wars movies Marvel Television FOX TV One Exclusive Video Cannes spanish language X-Men trailers godzilla game of thrones Red Carpet Set visit 21st Century Fox CNN Winter TV south america Sony Pictures crime a nightmare on elm street History SDCC crime drama Marvel VICE Peacock what to watch SundanceTV Reality Competition latino FX on Hulu Black History Month TCA 2017 archives Syfy Disney rt archives satire monster movies Mary Tyler Moore comiccon reviews Biopics USA based on movie Turner Classic Movies Oscars spinoff Lionsgate OWN The Purge Pet Sematary Tomatazos TCA supernatural biography spanish women FX medical drama USA Network TBS Netflix Christmas movies game show foreign remakes blockbusters disaster kong HBO Go superhero asian-american Hulu sitcom dark Amazon romance 2015 screenings 24 frames Hallmark Christmas movies E3 halloween tv Watching Series BBC Disney Channel Netflix Action films scorecard Esquire Starz First Reviews spy thriller 93rd Oscars Lifetime Christmas movies name the review mutant zero dark thirty GIFs Logo richard e. Grant dc technology Universal worst Super Bowl canceled TV shows Polls and Games toy story Drama dramedy Tarantino VOD MTV Acorn TV BET Martial Arts LGBT Bravo Holiday chucky Countdown telelvision transformers Tumblr Pop animated Pixar rotten natural history Television Academy pirates of the caribbean ITV cars classics Spring TV worst movies Ghostbusters Anna Paquin nfl Reality tv talk E! Lifetime Teen Fantasy American Society of Cinematographers El Rey documentary The Walt Disney Company directors heist movie children's TV Mary poppins NYCC adaptation Rock Country jamie lee curtis Arrowverse golden globes DirecTV HBO Max Ellie Kemper MCU slashers Dark Horse Comics Lucasfilm james bond Opinion Fox News Spike 20th Century Fox adventure VH1 WarnerMedia die hard space BAFTA comedies anthology Shondaland kaiju Comedy Central green book Star Trek independent diversity Rocketman social media Disney Plus cancelled TV shows IFC Films Mudbound quibi spain canceled 71st Emmy Awards Awards Tour Funimation football Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Song of Ice and Fire video on demand Writers Guild of America cooking stand-up comedy 72 Emmy Awards best japanese BBC America Superheroes venice king kong boxing Apple TV+ finale 2016 2019 cancelled Pop TV rotten movies we love docudrama Brie Larson Quiz A24 Academy Awards TCA Winter 2020 New York Comic Con GLAAD cancelled television Character Guide Film Mary Poppins Returns franchise travel breaking bad 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards San Diego Comic-Con french crossover docuseries Music Food Network HBO Alien Rom-Com justice league A&E italian Tubi Western anime Toys toronto obituary festivals Animation The Witch casting Columbia Pictures ABC MSNBC 2021 war thriller werewolf Avengers The Arrangement hist award winner GoT stoner TCA Awards political drama renewed TV shows composers Video Games Year in Review documentaries Valentine's Day Trophy Talk video Cosplay Comics on TV ghosts Certified Fresh SXSW TNT dogs Extras YouTube Premium Christmas singing competition reboot hidden camera fast and furious parents prank free movies 45 Election YouTube festival Nominations stop motion Apple TV Plus dceu boxoffice Comic Book Grammys cults Hallmark jurassic park all-time binge Women's History Month Hear Us Out Film Festival miniseries cats PaleyFest TLC Pride Month Vudu joker CW Seed Kids & Family Musicals historical drama Apple Stephen King christmas movies strong female leads Nickelodeon aliens CBS All Access Disney streaming service Warner Bros. comic Disney+ Disney Plus rom-coms Comedy hollywood hispanic DC streaming service Emmy Nominations Chernobyl sag awards politics comic books Trailer psychological thriller Classic Film emmy awards batman Mystery robots 4/20 The Walking Dead Mindy Kaling Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt streaming Superheroe zombie Emmys TIFF movies DC Comics Paramount Plus Thanksgiving ESPN AMC vampires Britbox Spectrum Originals Horror Black Mirror halloween Amazon Studios 2018 science fiction facebook Nat Geo indiana jones Box Office Sundance Now RT History Heroines romantic comedy twilight Sci-Fi zombies doctor who Premiere Dates Podcast Fall TV scary movies sequels discovery talk show ABC Family Fox Searchlight Summer Broadway critics harry potter Shudder dragons Musical blaxploitation Walt Disney Pictures movie Calendar black period drama elevated horror Schedule book adaptation cartoon Showtime Captain marvel Crunchyroll Winners Rocky Infographic Baby Yoda cancelled TV series Creative Arts Emmys Crackle comics Masterpiece Cartoon Network crime thriller RT21 2020 NBC FXX police drama series Amazon Prime Video First Look Sundance APB PBS sequel indie Trivia 2017 deadpool ViacomCBS Awards 007 popular theme song laika TV renewals television Pirates mockumentary Star Wars Legendary See It Skip It versus Paramount Network razzies Marvel Studios teaser CBS Adult Swim cinemax Interview National Geographic Paramount nbcuniversal kids TCM spider-man YA Marathons ABC Signature superman news Holidays Binge Guide Television Critics Association nature OneApp revenge YouTube Red child's play Photos australia mission: impossible Amazon Prime Travel Channel unscripted Best and Worst criterion ID ratings cops TV Land PlayStation witnail Family screen actors guild TruTV universal monsters Endgame President Sundance TV book The Academy serial killer The CW concert Freeform