Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire

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Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAdam Wingard
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Terry Rossio
  • Adam Wingard
  • Simon Barrett
Based onGodzilla and Mothra
by Toho Co., Ltd.
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyBen Seresin
Edited byJosh Schaeffer
Music by
Production
company
Distributed by
Release dates
  • March 25, 2024 (2024-03-25) (TCL Chinese Theatre)
  • March 29, 2024 (2024-03-29) (United States)
Running time
115 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$135–150 million[3][4]
Box office$436.5 million[5][6]

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire[a] is a 2024 American monster film directed by Adam Wingard, produced by Legendary Pictures and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. It is the sequel to Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) and the fifth film in the MonsterVerse franchise, also serving as the 38th film of the Godzilla franchise and 13th in the King Kong franchise. The film stars Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Dan Stevens, Kaylee Hottle, Alex Ferns, and Fala Chen. Hall, Henry, and Hottle reprise their roles from the previous film. In the film, Kong encounters more of his species in the Hollow Earth and must unite again with Godzilla to stop their tyrannical leader and a powerful, frost-breathing Titan from destroying the surface.

Following the box office and streaming success of Godzilla vs. Kong during the COVID-19 pandemic, Legendary announced a sequel in March 2022 and that filming would commence later that year. In May 2022, it was announced that Wingard would return to direct and Stevens had been cast as a lead. Filming began in July 2022 in the Gold Coast, Australia, and finished in November 2022.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire premiered at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on March 25, 2024, and was released in the United States on March 29. The film received mixed reviews from critics, with many comparing it unfavorably to Godzilla Minus One (2023), and has grossed $436 million worldwide on a $135−150 million budget, making it the fifth-highest-grossing film of 2024.

Plot

Three years after defeating Mechagodzilla,[b] Kong has established his new territory in the Hollow Earth and searches for more of his kind. On Earth's surface, Godzilla continues to maintain order between humanity and giant monsters, known as "Titans" — killing Scylla in Rome and resting in the Colosseum afterwards.

A Monarch observation outpost stationed in the Hollow Earth picks up an unidentified signal. On the surface, the signal causes Jia, the last known survivor of the Iwi tribe from Skull Island, to experience hallucinations and visions, causing her adoptive mother, Dr. Ilene Andrews, to worry. Also sensing the signal, Godzilla leaves Rome and attacks a nuclear plant in France to absorb the radiation. Godzilla then heads to the Titan Tiamat's lair in the Arctic. Monarch believes Godzilla is strengthening himself for an oncoming threat.

When a sinkhole opens near his home, Kong discovers an uncharted region where a tribe of his species has survived, including a juvenile named Suko. After an initial confrontation, Kong forces Suko to lead him to the tribe's lair, and the two slowly bond on their journey. The tribe's tyrannical leader, the Skar King, battles Kong with the aid of an ancient ice-powered Titan, Shimo, whom the Skar King controls with pain using a crystal. Shimo's ice breath damages Kong's right arm, causing frostbite, but with Suko's help Kong manages to escape, though he loses his axe in the process.

Andrews and Jia, alongside Titan veterinarian Trapper and conspiracy podcaster Bernie Hayes, travel to the Hollow Earth to locate the source of the signal. They find the Monarch outpost destroyed. As the group ventures forward, they discover a temple that leads them to a subterranean section that houses a surviving Iwi tribe, who communicate telepathically with each other. Inspecting some ruins, they surmise that the signal was a telepathic distress call sent by the Iwi.

While observing Jia socializing with the Iwi, Andrews voices her fears to Trapper that Jia may choose to stay with her people and that Andrews would have to accept it. Inside a temple, Andrews uncovers hieroglyphics displaying the past and future: the Skar King once attempted to conquer the surface world and waged war against Godzilla's species, but Godzilla defeated him and trapped him and his tribe deep within the Hollow Earth. The prophecy also indicates that Jia would be the key to reawakening Mothra. Sensing Jia, Kong locates the temple and is fitted by Trapper with a prototype exoskeletal arm brace to strengthen and heal his frostbitten limb. Unbeknownst to them, one of the Skar King's loyalists has followed them and informs the Skar King, who assembles his invasion force for Earth. Jia successfully awakens the reborn Mothra.

Godzilla kills Tiamat and absorbs cosmic radiation from her lair, evolving him and turning his dorsal plates magenta. Hoping to lure Godzilla to the Hollow Earth to assist him, Kong surfaces in Cairo and calls out to Godzilla. Despite Kong's attempts to communicate, an irate Godzilla attacks him, and a brief fight ensues until Mothra arrives with Jia and convinces Godzilla to help Kong. The trio then head down to Hollow Earth to face the Skar King along with Shimo and his army. The fight drags Godzilla, Kong, Shimo and the Skar King to Rio de Janeiro, where Shimo begins to induce another ice age at the Skar King's command. The factions are evenly matched until Suko arrives with Kong's axe and destroys the crystal controlling Shimo. Shimo and Kong then freeze and shatter the Skar King.

After undoing Shimo's ice age with his atomic breath, Godzilla returns to rest in the Colosseum. Jia reunites with Andrews and alleviates her fears by choosing to stay with her adopted mother. Mothra restores the protective barrier of the Iwi’s home and then departs. Kong returns with Shimo and Suko to Hollow Earth, where he becomes the ape tribe's new leader.

Cast

Production

Development

In March 2019, producer Alex Garcia stated that Legendary Pictures hoped to produce more MonsterVerse films if they became successful, stating, "It's one brick at a time, each piece has to be as good as it can be, so right now it's all focused on this [Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Godzilla vs. Kong]. But could there be? Yeah, that's the hope if the movies turn out really well."[9] In February 2021, Wingard commented on the future of the MonsterVerse, "I know where we could go potentially with future films." However, he noted that the MonsterVerse was created "to a certain degree" to lead towards Godzilla vs. Kong.[10] He added that the MonsterVerse is at a "crossroads", stating, "It's really at the point where audiences have to kind of step forward and vote for more of these things. If this movie is a success obviously they will continue forward."[11]

Godzilla vs. Kong was released on March 24, 2021, and became a box office and streaming hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.[12] The film grossed $470 million worldwide against a break-even point of $330 million,[12][13] and became the most pirated film of 2021.[14] On April 4, 2021, Legendary's CEO Josh Grode commented on potential sequels, "we have a number of ideas for more movies."[15] That same day, the hashtag #ContinueTheMonsterVerse began trending on Twitter, which was acknowledged by Legendary and garnered support from Jordan Vogt-Roberts, director of Kong: Skull Island (2017).[16][17] On April 27, 2021, The Hollywood Reporter stated that Legendary was "quietly taking steps to stretch the series into one or more installments" while negotiating with Wingard to potentially return to direct. Various ideas were considered, with Son of Kong being one potential title.[18] In August 2021, MonsterVerse writer Max Borenstein stated that "there will be some new, interesting installments coming" due to the success of Godzilla vs. Kong.[19]

On March 20, 2022, it was announced that a sequel to Godzilla vs. Kong was scheduled to commence filming later in the year in the Gold Coast, Queensland, and other locations in South East Queensland.[20] In May 2022, it was announced that Wingard would return to direct and that Dan Stevens had been cast as a lead. Wingard and Stevens had previously worked together on The Guest (2014).[21] In May 2022, Production Weekly reported that the film's working title was Origins.[22] On June 30, 2022, it was revealed that Mary Parent, Alex Garcia, Eric McLeod, Brian Rogers, Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni would return to produce.[23][24] On July 1, 2022, Toho confirmed that the film would feature Godzilla.[25]

Pre-production

Wingard recalled that preproduction on the film began in January 2022.[26] In August 2022, Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary announced a new synopsis and that Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry and Kaylee Hottle would reprise their roles from Godzilla vs Kong while Fala Chen, Alex Ferns and Rachel House would join the cast as well. It was also revealed that Wingard would collaborate once more with production designer Tom Hammock, editor Josh Schaeffer, composer Tom Holkenborg, and that Terry Rossio had returned to write the script with Jeremy Slater and Wingard's frequent collaborator Simon Barrett.[27][24] Ultimately, Rossio, Barrett, and Slater received "screenplay by" credit, while Rossio, Wingard, and Barrett received "story by" credit; Michael Dougherty and Zach Shields, both of whom co-wrote Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Godzilla vs. Kong, shared off-screen "additional literary material" credit with James Ashcroft, Eli Kent, and Nicole Perlman.[28][29]

Filming

Principal photography commenced in the Gold Coast, Queensland, on July 29, 2022.[30] At the start of production, Ben Seresin was confirmed to have returned as director of photography.[31] In November 2022, it was reported that filming had finished in Australia and that crew gear revealed the film's potential title, at the time, as Godzilla and Kong.[32]

Post-production

The film's visual effects were supervised by Alessandro Ongaro.[33] After watching the trailer for Godzilla Minus One (2023), Wingard and Ongaro decided to pay tribute to that film by recreating a shot of the ground bursting beneath Godzilla's footfall for the film's Rome sequence.[33] Wingard confirmed that Mothra's inclusion was always part of the plan. However, Legendary did not have the rights to Mothra by the time that post-production began and used a placeholder character named "Phosphera" until the rights were secured. Wingard also refuted rumors that Phosphera was replaced with Mothra due to poor testing, iterating that Mothra was included as far back as the first draft.[34]

Music

In August 2022, Tom Holkenborg was announced to return to compose the film's score, after previously doing so for Godzilla vs. Kong.[35] In December 2023, it was announced that Antonio Di Iorio would co-compose the score with Holkenborg.[36] A single was released on March 13, 2024 by WaterTower Music, titled “Main Title Theme.” The full soundtrack album was released on March 22, 2024.[37]

Release

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire held its red carpet premiere at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre on March 25, 2024.[38] Afterward, it was released internationally on March 27 and in the United States on March 29,[39] and is scheduled to be released in Japan by Toho on April 26.[40] It was previously slated to be released on March 15 and April 12.[23][41] Incidentally, Toho's Godzilla Minus One was withdrawn from U.S. theaters eight weeks before the release of Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire.[42]

Reception

Box office

As of April 14, 2024, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire has grossed $157.9 million in the United States and Canada and over $278.6 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $436.5 million.[5][6]

In the United States and Canada, Godzilla x Kong was initially projected to gross $50–55 million from 3,850 theaters in its opening weekend, as well as an additional $80–90 million from 63 international territories.[3] After making $37 million on its first day, including $10 million from Thursday previews, the best-ever total for a MonsterVerse film, estimates were raised to $75 million domestic weekend. It went on to debut to $80 million, topping the box office and becoming the second-best opening weekend of the series and fifth-best Easter weekend of all-time, behind Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Furious 7 (2015), The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023) and The Fate of the Furious (2017).[43] In its second weekend, the film made $31.2 million (a drop of 61%), remaining in first.[44]

Critical response

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire received mixed reviews from critics.[45] On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 54% of 224 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 5.6/10. The website's consensus reads: "Come to Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire for the sheer monster-mashing spectacle -- and stay for that too, because the movie doesn't have much else to offer."[46] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 47 out of 100, based on 51 critics, indicating "mixed or average" reviews.[47] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported 96% of audience members said the film "met or exceeded their expectations."[43]

Several critics compared the film negatively to Toho's Godzilla Minus One (2023).[c] Owen Gleiberman of Variety found Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire mediocre, likening it more to a superhero film, but felt that it was misfortunate that the film was released too soon after Godzilla Minus One, comparing that film with "lyrical majesty" and Godzilla x Kong more like a "product", but admitted that the film delivers on the monster battles, praising the Rome scenes.[48] Pete Hammond from Deadline Hollywood likened the scenes with the Ape tribe to Planet of the Apes and noted that Godzilla, despite getting top billing and referenced repeatedly in the film, mostly plays a supporting role. He felt the human characters were the same "one dimensional caricatures" typically found in monster films, but admitted that they had a "nice rapport" regardless. Like Gleiberman, Hammond compared the film to Godzilla Minus One, calling it "far more impressive" than Godzilla x Kong and suggested that Legendary hire that film's team next.[49] James Berardinelli also expressed disatisfaction for the film and suggested that Godzilla Minus One writer-director Takashi Yamazaki make the next Monsterverse film.[50]

A review in The Guardian praised the choreography and structure but criticized some aspects of the actors' roles, stating, "Dan Stevens and a returning Brian Tyree Henry are both lumped with the comedy and both struggle to make any of it work, which for a portion of the middle stretch, devoid of crashing and smashing, starts to become a problem." and concluding, " If the next chapter ended up being Godzilla Minus People, that wouldn’t be a loss."[54] In a review for The New York Times, Alissa Wilkinson wrote: "Godzilla x Kong is evidence the original thread has been lost entirely — a shame, in an era haunted by monsters the movies can only hint at, from climate catastrophe, destructive weaponry and geopolitical strife to power-hungry, brutal authoritarianism. There's no reflection here at all, not even space to contemplate what might lie beyond the literal. Beyond the main cast, the humans in this movie exist only to get squashed like ants by falling debris and mangled buildings." and wondered, "When will Hollywood have the guts to make a fun blockbuster like this that dares to acknowledge the real menacing monsters?"[55]

Writing for IndieWire, David Ehrlich awarded the film a C-grade, calling it a "goofy-ass, clumsily assembled Saturday morning cartoon" that was curated to "overstimulate ten-year olds." He criticized the CGI for being dull and not taking full advantage of its potential, feeling that the filmmakers should have used Godzilla (2014) as a reference point to emphasize the gravitas of the monster scenes.[56] In a more positive review, Amon Warmann of Empire awarded the film three stars out of five, stating "at its best, it delivers a fun slice of monster mayhem, even if we have to wait too long for the titular duo to charge into battle together." However, Warmann noted that the film prioritizes Kong over Godzilla and the film's journey to the climax is a "mixed bag", feeling that the characters were "shallow but fun."[57]

The Los Angeles Times called the film "a roaring headache" but noted "two impressively goopy moments" in the beginning and the horror-like approach brought by the director "with a penchant for gleeful experimentation and over-the-top style", including "a heavy emphasis on crystals as both plot device and aesthetic, offering this film a retro feel".[58] Robbie Collin of the Telegraph awarded the movie two stars out of five, lamenting that “Godzilla and Kong stomp off on adventures that turn out to be thunderously boring.”[59]

Possible sequel

Director Adam Wingard has expressed interest in making a third film featuring both Godzilla and Kong, but noted that "it just depends on how Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire does and how things kind of shape out."[7] Wingard iterated that ideas have been discussed as to where to take the franchise onward and that he would take a "different approach" on the next film if he's invited back to direct; but stressed that his decision to return would depend on the box office performance of The New Empire.[60][61] He also suggested that the next film could potentially follow Godzilla and explore his perspective in the same way that The New Empire followed Kong.[62]

Commenting on the film's box office success, producer and Legendary's chairman of worldwide production Mary Parent said, "This is certainly an exciting result. We are in a good position to continue the journey, but let’s see how Godzilla x Kong unfolds."[63]

Notes

  1. ^ According to Wingard, the "x" in the film's title is silent.[7]
  2. ^ As depicted in Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)
  3. ^ Attributed to multiple references:[48][49][50][51][52][53]

References

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Bibliography

External links