Development of Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)
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Gareth Edwards stated that he wanted Godzilla to work as a standalone film with a definitive ending, and opposed suggestions that the ending should leave the film open for a sequel. While Edwards wasn't against the possibility of future sequels, his main concern was delivering a satisfying experience with the current film; "I want a story that begins and ends, and you leave on a high. That's all we cared about when we were making this; just this film. If this film is good, the others can come, but let’s just pay attention to this and not get sidetracked by other things."
On May 18th, 2014, after Godzilla's successful opening weekend, a sequel was officially given the green light from Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures. Edwards was confirmed to be directing the sequel but it was unknown if any of the previous cast would be returning. In a previous interview with Gareth Edwards, he said that if the film were to have a sequel that he would like to do a Destroy All Monsters-like film.
A piece of "Classified Monarch Footage," a teaser for Godzilla 2, was shown at Comic-Con 2014. According to eye-witnesses, it looked like it was put together in the 1960's, with audio of John F. Kennedy talking about threats and dangers. Text comes on the screen saying that there was one more secret: "There were others." A pterodactyl-like shadow and "CODENAME: RODAN." An extreme close-up of a giant moth creature and "CODENAME: MOTHRA." Then a silhouette and quick cuts around a dragon-like shape figure and "CODENAME: GHIDORAH." Finally, "THREAT ASSESSMENT: CONFLICT INEVITABLE," followed by "LET THEM FIGHT."
On Thursday, August 14, 2014, a release date of June 8, 2018 was set for Godzilla 2. The four-year gap between Godzilla and Godzilla 2 was due in part to Gareth Edwards directing the film Star Wars: Rogue One and as a result being unavailable to begin work on Godzilla 2 until 2016.
On December 8, 2014, Toho announced production of a new Japanese Godzilla film for 2016. Despite being released between Legendary's Godzilla films, the new Toho film, Shin Godzilla, will be a standalone film not connected to Legendary's series, and will have no effect on the production of Godzilla 2.
On July 9, 2015, Legendary Pictures' spokesperson at Comic-Con, Barnaby Legg, told Dread Central that Legendary was aware of fans' complaints about Godzilla's lack of screentime in the 2014 film, and that the sequel would give fans "exactly what you're hoping for."
In an interview with Collider conducted in early August 2015, writer Max Borenstein revealed that he is currently writing the script for the film, and promised that the sequel would do "bigger and even better things" than the first film. Borenstein also expressed his excitement for the film, and enthusiasm for working with Gareth Edwards once again.
On October 14, 2015, Legendary Pictures officially announced production of a remake of King Kong vs. Godzilla titled Godzilla vs. Kong set for release in 2020. The film will follow both Godzilla 2 and Legendary's Kong: Skull Island.
On May 10, 2016, an article revealed that the release dates of both Godzilla 2 and Godzilla vs. Kong had been changed to March 22, 2019 and May 29, 2020 respectively. Only three days later, it was reported that Gareth Edwards had left the film in order to pursue other projects.
On October 20, 2016, Variety reported that Michael Dougherty and Zach Shields, who had recently co-wrote Legendary's Christmas horror-comedy Krampus, would be stepping in as the new writers for Godzilla 2. In addition, sources indicated that Legendary was planning to set up a writer's room to further expand the Godzilla-Kong cinematic universe leading up to Godzilla vs. Kong in 2020.
On December 14, 2016, in a press release announcing the hiring of new production executives, Legendary revealed the official titles for both Godzilla 2 and the Pacific Rim sequel. Godzilla 2's official title is Godzilla: King of the Monsters, while the Pacific Rim sequel's official title is Pacific Rim Uprising.
On January 23rd, 2017, Variety reported that writer Michael Dougherty would also direct the film. Four days later, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown would star in the film. Variety reported on February 21st that Kyle Chandler had officially joined the cast and would be playing the father of Millie Bobby Brown's character. In the same article, Variety mentioned that of the previous film's stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, and Ken Watanabe, only Watanabe was expected to reprise his role. On February 27, Variety reported that Vera Farmiga would also be starring in the film, and would be playing the mother of Millie Bobby Brown's character. On March 27, Variety reported that Straight Outta Compton star O'Shea Jackson Jr. was in negotiations to join the film's cast.
Issue #1036 of Production Weekly, published on March 30, 2017, revealed that the film's working title would be Fathom.
On April 18, Deadline reported that Aisha Hinds had joined the film's cast. The article also stated that both O'Shea Jackson Jr. and Ken Watanabe were part of the cast as well. On May 1, Deadline reported that Hamilton star Anthony Ramos had joined the film's cast, and would be playing a character named Cpl. Mendoza. On May 18, Deadline reported that Charles Dance had joined the film's cast, and that Sally Hawkins would also be returning to reprise her role as Vivienne Graham from Godzilla.
On May 20, 2017, director Michael Dougherty confirmed via Twitter that creature effects artist Tom Woodruff Jr. would be designing the monsters for the film. On May 23, 2017, Dougherty confirmed via Twitter that practical monster effects would be used in the film. The next day, Dougherty announced on Twitter that Randy Havens had joined the film's cast. On May 31, Variety confirmed that Thomas Middleditch had joined the cast. On June 2, Variety reported that Bradley Whitford had joined the film's cast.
On June 8, 2017, The Tracking Board reported that Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi had joined the cast of Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and would be playing a prominent member of Monarch. On July 10, 2017, Deadline reported that The Walking Dead star Elizabeth Ludlow had joined the film's cast.
On June 21, a Monarch timeline video was uploaded to the Kong: Skull Island Twitter account. Another one was uploaded on June 25. Another one, revealing that Monarch set up a base around Isla de Mona in 1991, was uploaded on July 5.
On July 12, another timeline video was uploaded. Three of the entries on the timeline appear to hint at the discoveries of Rodan, Mothra and King Ghidorah, with a year and brief description given for each.
- 1991; ISLA DE MONA - A covert Monarch team establishes a quarantine zone around the island's dormant volcano, under the guise of 'environmental research'. Over the coming years, what began as a small scientific outpost will expand to become a full containment facility around the mouth of the volcano.
- 2009; TEMPLE OF THE MOTH - Mythographic studies of Chinese temples leads Monarch to the high-altitude jungles of the Yunnan province. Dr. Emma Russell and her team follow a mysterious bio-acoustic signature to a previously undiscovered megalithic temple, within which lies a gigantic cocoon. A quickening heartbeat is detected inside.
- 2016; MONSTER ZERO - When Monarch discover an extraordinary superspecies sealed beneath the Antarctic ice sheet, Dr. Vivienne Graham leads the effort to build a covert containment and research facility around the dormant creature. Her classified field notes contain a mysterious footnote: "The devil has three heads."
On April 26, 2018, TheWrap reported that Jason Liles, who had recently portrayed the giant gorilla George through motion capture in the film Rampage, would be acting as one of King Ghidorah's motion capture actors in the film. The same day, Empire explained that Liles would specifically be portraying King Ghidorah's middle head, with Alan Maxson and Richard Dorton playing the other two heads and additional motion capture actors performing as the monster's body. On May 23, 2018, the movie's release date was pushed back to May 31, 2019.
On July 7, Michael Dougherty confirmed that Godzilla: King of the Monsters would be featured in Warner Bros.' Hall H panel at San Diego Comic Con. Vera Farmiga offered some details about her character Dr. Emma Russell in a July 10 interview with Metro US: "I play a paleobiologist. She has figured out a way to communicate with the creatures and potentially control them using their bioacoustics on a sonar level. So she is like a DJ for the monsters.” Entertainment Weekly published a first-look article on the film on July 13, including two stills, one showing Dr. Emma Russell and her daughter Madison in an icy chamber and another depicting Godzilla firing his atomic breath into the sky, and some basic plot details from Dougherty. Dougherty revealed that the story would take place five years after Godzilla. Godzilla has not appeared since battling the MUTOs in San Francisco, but the prospect of his return and the potential emergence of other giant monsters has filled the world with terror. When Dr. Russell and her daughter Madison are kidnapped by a "mysterious organization" seeking to control the monsters, and her ex-husband Mark, along with Drs. Ishiro Serizawa and Vivienne Graham, try to rescue them. He also described the still of Godzilla firing his atomic breath into the sky as a "call to arms."
@MonarchSciences, a Twitter account Legendary previously used to promote Kong: Skull Island, deleted all of its Tweets and began posting again on July 18. The account soon added a link to a new site where visitors could view Monarch outposts around the globe, as well as information on Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah. The previously-dormant @GodzillaMovie Twitter Tweeted a short video of Madison Russell attempting to contact Monarch. Godzillamovie.com was also updated with a poster for the film.
On July 21, a presentation for the film was held in Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con. Director Michael Dougherty and cast members Millie Bobby Brown, Vera Farmiga, Thomas Middleditch, and O'Shea Jackson Jr. were present for a panel on the film. During the panel, Dougherty confirmed that composer Bear McCreary, whose past work includes 10 Cloverfield Lane and Colossal, would be scoring the film and would incorporate the main theme from the original Godzilla and the other monsters' classic motifs into his score. The film's first official trailer was also screened for the first time during the panel, and was subsequently uploaded to Warner Bros.' YouTube channel.
On August 23, Alex Maxson Tweeted an announcement from his agency Coolwaters Productions, clarifying the motion capture roles of its clients in the film. The announcement reiterated the fact that Maxson would be portraying King Ghidorah's right head, with Jason Liles playing the center head and Richard Dorton playing the left head. It also revealed that Liles would also be portraying Rodan in the film, while TJ Storm would be reprising his role as Godzilla from the previous film.
On September 6, a listing appeared on Amazon for an official graphic novel prequel to Godzilla: King of the Monsters to be released on April 16, 2019. It will be written by Arvid Nelson, who previously wrote all four issues of Skull Island: The Birth of Kong, and illustrated by Drew Johnson. On October 14, Monsterverse Mythology Manager George Tew announced via Twitter that he would be part of a Legendary Comics panel called "Godzilla: Secrets of the Monsterverse" held at Los Angeles Comic Con on October 26. This panel, also attended by SVP of Creative Strategy Barnaby Legg, SVP of Comics Robert Napton, and illustrator of the upcoming Godzilla: King of the Monsters tie-in graphic novel Drew Johnson, will explore the history of Monarch in both the films of the Monsterverse and its tie-in comics Godzilla: Awakening and Skull Island: The Birth of Kong. The panel will also discuss Legendary Comics' upcoming work with Godzilla in 2019, and reveal previously unseen information about Monarch. The first 500 fans in attendance will also receive an exclusive signed Godzilla poster.
On October 23, Dougherty confirmed via Twitter that King Ghidorah will have his iconic cackling roars, reiterating what he has said in previous interviews. On October 25, Legendary Comics revealed the official title of the film's graphic novel prequel, Godzilla: Aftershock, and released a teaser image and plot description for it. It revealed that the graphic novel will pick up after the events of Godzilla, and will introduce characters from the sequel such as Dr. Emma Russel. Godzilla: Aftershock will also feature Godzilla battling against a new original monster. During the "Godzilla: Secrets of the Monsterverse" panel held at Los Angeles Comic Con on October 27, new photographs related to the film and Godzilla: Aftershock were revealed, including a cave painting depicting a battle between Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah. In addition, a teaser trailer for Godzilla: Aftershock was screened, revealing the design of Godzilla's new opponent, which has been stated to be a relative of the MUTOs from the previous film.
@MonarchSciences began posting new images of potential Titan sightings on November 26. On December 1, a major presentation for the film was held at Tokyo Comic Con. Michael Dougherty commented on concept art and storyboards for the film before showing teaser footage for the second trailer. A portion of Bear McCreary's rendition of Godzilla's Theme played during the panel. Afterwards, a two-meter statue of Godzilla's updated design was revealed, as well as Tamashii Nations' S.H. MonsterArts figures for Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah, the first public look at their full designs.
The second trailer premiered on December 9 at Comic Con Experience in São Paulo, Brazil, and debuted online the following day.
In an interview published by Empire on March 20, Dougherty discussed Rodan's role in the movie, describing him as "a bit of a rogue" and explaining that it is not known where his loyalties lie. Dougherty further discussed Rodan's role in an interview with Toho Kingdom's Chris Mirjahangir published on March 21. When asked whether or not he and Godzilla would be allies, Dougherty replied that Rodan is the wildcard and that he thinks his loyalties can sometimes falter.
On March 21, multiple news outlets published articles detailing visits they had made to the film's set back in 2017, revealing several new details about the film such as the names of new Titans, character specifics, and more.
On April 12, Toho announced that the rock band [ALEXANDROS] would be performing the theme song "Pray" for the Japanese release of Godzilla: King of the Monsters. The band's lead vocalist and guitarist, Yohei Kawakami, describes himself as a big Godzilla fan and had previously written an "unofficial" theme song for Shin Godzilla titled "kaiju," which he submitted to Toho in 2016 to no avail. However, Toho contacted the band with an offer to perform the Japanese theme song for Godzilla: King of the Monsters in the winter of 2018. Kawakami describes the song as a "magnificent rock ballad" which was written after the band had viewed a preview of the film. Michael Dougherty approved of the song, saying it "complements the dramatic ending perfectly."
Warner Bros. premiered the third and final trailer on April 23. On May 7, Monarch Sciences updated with detailed information on the film's human characters. On May 9, the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, California set up a giant inflatable Godzilla head on its roof, with rubble surrounding him to suggest he was bursting out of the structure. A blue light radiated from Godzilla's mouth at night, mimicking the film's "call to arms" scene. An advance screening was held at the theater the following day.
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