Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (commonly referred to as Warner Bros. Pictures, Warner Bros. or simply WB) is an American entertainment company and film studio, and a division of media conglomerate Time Warner Inc. Warner Bros. currently holds the rights to the original 1933 King Kong, and is the distributor of Legendary Pictures' MonsterVerse franchise of Godzilla and King Kong films.
Giant monster films
Warner Bros. was responsible for producing The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms in 1953, a successful giant monster film which predated Toho's Godzilla by a year. Following the abandonment of the proposed Americanization of Toho's Godzilla Raids Again titled The Volcano Monsters, producer Paul Schreibman acquired the American distribution rights to the film. Screibman produced an edited version of the film titled Gigantis, the Fire Monster and sold it to Warner Bros., who released the film theatrically in May 1959.
Following a heated legal battle between RKO Pictures, Paramount Pictures and Universal Pictures over the rights to the character of King Kong, a federal judge found that the character was owned by the estate of Merian C. Cooper, director of the original film, while RKO owned the original film and its sequel. Eventually, RKO's library of films, including King Kong and Son of Kong, was acquired by Turner Broadcasting System (TBS), who assumed complete ownership of the first two Kong films. In 1996, TBS was acquired by Warner Bros., who took over ownership of the films. To this day, Warner Bros. has distributed and licensed King Kong and Son of Kong around the world.
In 2009, American producer Brian Rogers approached Legendary Pictures to seek financing for Yoshimitsu Banno's project Godzilla 3D to the MAX. Legendary became interested in producing a feature-length American Godzilla film instead, and entered negotiations with Toho. The same year, Warner Bros. Entertainment Japan distributed Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy. In 2010, it was announced that Toho had made an agreement with both Legendary and Warner Bros., who was the studio's current distribution partner, to produce at least one American-made Godzilla film. The resulting film, Godzilla, was released to theaters in 2014 by Warner Bros. in every country around the world except for Japan, where it was released by Toho. Shortly after the release of Godzilla, Legendary and Warner Bros.' distribution deal expired, with Legendary forming a new partnership with Universal. As a result, Universal began distributing all of Legendary's productions, including the sequel to it and Warner Bros. 2013 kaiju film Pacific Rim.
Due to Legendary's deal with Toho including Warner Bros., the sequels to 2014's Godzilla would continue to be distributed by Warner Bros. despite the studio's current partner being Universal. Legendary Pictures began production of a new King Kong film, Kong: Skull Island, with Universal in 2014, but was actually interested in tying the film in with Godzilla in order to lead up to a remake of King Kong vs. Godzilla. Legendary decided to include references to Godzilla in the Kong: Skull Island script, including the presence of the organization Monarch. Warner Bros. and Universal were both uncomfortable with references to a WB film being included in a Universal film, so Legendary moved the production to Warner Bros., placing all of the studio's Godzilla and Kong films under a single distributor. Shortly afterward, Legendary and Warner Bros. announced the film Godzilla vs. Kong, which will follow both Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla: King of the Monsters and is slated for a March 31, 2021 release.
Warner Bros. produced the 2018 film adaptation of Ernest Cline's novel Ready Player One, which featured appearances from both King Kong and Mechagodzilla. Warner Bros. also served as the distributor for New Line Cinemas' 2018 Rampage film, based on the Midway video game series of the same name.
- A sign with the Warner Bros. logo can be seen on top of a building in the film Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, during the scene where King Ghidorah is revived by Mothra's energy.
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