“Let them fight!” When Ken Watanabe’s Dr. Ishiro Serizawa uttered that meme-worthy phrase in 2014’s Godzilla reboot, he was talking about the kaiju raging across the screens at the time. Six years later, on the cusp of the release of the culmination of Legendary’s movie monster franchise, and that utterance now has a different target: Streaming services.
According to a report from The Hollywood Reporter, the highly-anticipated Godzilla vs Kong – the blockbuster monster mash follow-up to last year’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters sequel that will pit the Big G against the grown-up version of King Kong from 2017’s Kong: Skull Island – will likely follow in the footsteps of recent blockbusters like Mulan and Wonder Woman and debut on a streaming platform. In the light of the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc on cinemas, film studios either need to delay their productions or find alternative release models. And with more people at home, streaming services are desperate for content. It’s the perfect setup.
As such, it’s being reported that Netflix seemingly offered Legendary more than $200 million to debut Godzilla vs Kong on the streaming giant’s platform. Apparently, this offer really got the attention of the suits at Legendary who sit with the daunting prospect of having to delay the film again (it was originally supposed to release this past weekend but got pushed to 2021), incurring costs the longer it is held back. But while the production studio financed 75% of Godzilla vs Kong it was Warner Bros. who picked up the rest of the tab. WB also has the distribution rights to the film and is seemingly not willing to just give all of that up.
WB has reportedly blocked Legendary from accepting Netflix’s offer while the studio prepares a counter-bid to instead move Godzilla vs Kong over to the WarnerMedia-owned HBO Max. However, when reached for official comment, a WB spokesperson simply responded that “We plan to release Godzilla vs. Kong theatrically next year as scheduled.” That doesn’t mean the HBO Max deal isn’t happening though. WarnerMedia has been on a big drive to increase the streaming service’s subscriber numbers and recently revealed that Wonder Woman 1984 would be getting a simultaneous release in theatres and HBO Max. The same could be happening here.
That may actually be the best approach for everybody, as it will then allow Godzilla vs Kong to still play theatrically in China where the franchise has drawn in massive numbers over the years (and where Netflix has no presence). A simultaneous release could also help to bolster flagging box office appeal. While Godzilla and Kong: Skull Island both earned over half a billion dollars globally, Godzilla: King of the Monsters fizzled a bit with a worldwide take of just $386 million. A streaming deal guarantees Legendary a portion of income straight off the bat.
With Godzilla vs Kong currently scheduled for release on 21 May 2021, I expect we’ll probably get some official statement in the next month or so. Directed by Adam Wingard (The Guest, You’re Next, Blair Witch) and written by Eric Pearson and Max Borenstein, Godzilla vs. Kong stars Alexander Skarsgard, Millie Bobby Brown, Jessica Henwick, Danai Gurira, Julian Dennison, Kyle Chandler, Rebecca Hall, Demian Bichir, and Brian Tyree Henry.
Last Updated: November 26, 2020