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Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019 film)

Godzilla: King of the Monsters is an upcoming American monster film directed and co-written by Michael Dougherty. It is a sequel to Godzilla (2014) and will be the 35th film in the Godzilla franchise, the third film in Legendary's MonsterVerse, and the third Godzilla film to be completely produced by a Hollywood studio.[Note 1] The film stars Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, Aisha Hinds, O'Shea Jackson Jr., David Strathairn, Ken Watanabe, and Zhang Ziyi. It is one of Yoshimitsu Banno's last films as executive producer, as he died on May 7, 2017.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Godzilla – King of the Monsters (2019) poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMichael Dougherty
Produced by
Screenplay by
  • Michael Dougherty
  • Zach Shields
Story by
Based onGodzilla, King Ghidorah, Mothra, Rodan
by Toho
Starring
Music byBear McCreary
CinematographyLawrence Sher
Edited by
Production
company
Distributed by
Release date
  • May 31, 2019 (2019-05-31) (United States)
Running time
132 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$200 million[2]

The sequel was green-lit during the opening weekend of Godzilla, with original director Gareth Edwards expected to return. After Edwards left the project in May 2016, Dougherty, who had been hired in October 2016 to re-write the script with Zach Shields, was announced as the director in January 2017. Principal photography began in June 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia and wrapped in September 2017. Godzilla: King of the Monsters is scheduled to be released on May 31, 2019, in 2D, 3D, Dolby Cinema and IMAX. A sequel, Godzilla vs. Kong, is scheduled to be released on March 13, 2020.

Contents

PremiseEdit

The heroic efforts of the crypto-zoological agency Monarch as its members face off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah. When these ancient super-species—thought to be mere myths—rise again, they all vie for supremacy, leaving humanity's very existence hanging in the balance.

— Legendary and Warner Bros.[4]

CastEdit

  • Kyle Chandler as Dr. Mark Russell:
    Emma's ex-husband, Madison's father, and an animal behavior specialist. After suffering a loss, Mark has an unfavorable opinion of the Titans, Godzilla in particular. Despite this, he joins a rescue mission along with Dr. Serizawa and Dr. Graham to save Emma and Madison from nefarious forces.[5][6] Chandler spoke of the film's themes being about "healing the planet".[7]
  • Vera Farmiga as Dr. Emma Russell:
    Mark's ex-wife, Madison's mother, a paleobiologist working for Monarch, and inventor of the "Orca", a machine that enables communication with the Titans but can also "potentially control them using their bioacoustics on a sonar level."[8] Unlike Mark, Emma believes that humans and Titans can co-exist peacefully.[9] She and Madison are kidnapped by a mysterious organization interested in her technology, with their own plans for the creatures.[5] Farmiga has described her character as being a "DJ for the monsters", stating, "She has figured out a way to communicate with the creatures..." She also described the film being about "saving the environment."[8] Farmiga noted that while the previous film focused on a father/son relationship, King of the Monsters focuses on a mother/daughter relationship. Due to this, Farmiga believes the film may pass the Bechdel test.[10]
  • Millie Bobby Brown as Madison Russell:
    Emma and Mark's 14-year-old daughter. She is kidnapped along with her mother and has a connection to Mothra.[5][11]
  • Bradley Whitford as Dr. Stanton:[12]
    A scientist working for Monarch. Dougherty verified that Dr. Stanton is loosely modeled after Rick Sanchez from Rick and Morty. Dougherty had the character "drink alot" to keep the character in line with the spirit of Rick Sanchez.[7]
  • Sally Hawkins as Dr. Vivienne Graham:
    A scientist working for Monarch as Serizawa's right-hand.
  • Charles Dance as Jonah Alan:
    A former British Army colonel and MI-6 agent turned fanatic anarchist, and leader of a terrorist paramilitary group looking to traffic Titan DNA and "level the global playing field". In 2005, he was jailed in a Pakistani prison after attempting to breach the walls of an underground MUTO dig site with a band of accomplice mercenaries.[13] After previously stalking Emma and attempting to raid some of her labs around the world, he takes her and Madison hostage to gain control of Emma's Orca device.[7][14] Dougherty described Jonah as a mysterious character with conflicting ideas about the Titans' role in the world, believing that mankind has damaged the planet and bringing back the Titans will potentially set things right.[15]
  • Thomas Middleditch as Sam Coleman:
    The communications liaison between Monarch and the U.S. government.[16]
  • Aisha Hinds as Foster
  • O'Shea Jackson Jr. as Barnes:
    A chief warrant officer who is the leader of the G-Team, the special military forces group run by Monarch specializing in battles involving Titans.
  • David Strathairn as Admiral William Stenz:
    An Admiral in the Seventh Fleet of the United States Navy. He is the commander of the United States Navy task force and was previously in charge of tracking down the MUTOs.
  • Ken Watanabe as Dr. Ishiro Serizawa:
    A scientist working for Monarch.
  • Zhang Ziyi as Dr. Chen:
    A scientist working for Monarch like her mother and grandmother before her. She is a mythology decoder, specializing in deciphering the mythological backgrounds of the Titans.[17]

Additionally, CCH Pounder portrays a senator, Anthony Ramos portrays Corporal Martinez, Elizabeth Ludlow portrays Griffin, and Jonathan Howard portrays Asher, while Randy Havens appears in an undisclosed role. Through motion capture, T.J. Storm reprises his role as Godzilla,[18][19] while Jason Liles, Alan Maxson, and Richard Dorton portray the heads of King Ghidorah. Liles also portrays Rodan via mo-cap.[20]

ProductionEdit

Production credits[4][21]

  • Michael Dougherty – director, co-writer
  • Zach Shields – co-writer, executive producer
  • Barry H. Waldman – executive producer
  • Dan Lin – executive producer
  • Roy Lee – executive producer
  • Yoshimitsu Banno – executive producer (posthumous)
  • Kenji Okuhira – executive producer
  • Alexandra Mendes – co-producer
  • Jay Ashenfelter – co-producer
  • Scott Chambliss – production designer
  • Louise Mingenbach – costume designer
  • Guillaume Rocheron – VFX supervisor
  • Tom Woodruff Jr. – effects and creature designer

DevelopmentEdit

Gareth Edwards, the director of 2014's Godzilla, stated that he wanted Godzilla to work as a standalone film with a definitive ending, and he opposed suggestions that the ending should leave the film open for a sequel. He said that he had no problem coming back to do a sequel if the film did well, but 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 note. 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."[22]

After a successful opening of $103 million internationally, Legendary green-lit the Godzilla sequel[23] with plans to produce a trilogy and Edwards attached to direct.[24] At the San Diego Comic-Con in July 2014, Legendary confirmed that they had acquired the rights to Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah from Toho. A short teaser clip showing concept art of all three with the ending tagline "Let them fight" was shown. Other details of their appearances in either of the two sequels were not announced.[25] In August 2014, Legendary announced that the sequel would be released on June 8, 2018,[26] and that writer Max Borenstein would return to write the screenplay.[27]

In April 2015, Aaron Taylor-Johnson stated that he was unsure if he would reprise his role for the sequel and that his return depended on Edwards' decision.[28] In October 2015, Legendary announced plans to unite Godzilla and King Kong in a film titled Godzilla vs. Kong, set for a 2020 release date. Legendary plans to create a shared cinematic franchise "centered around Monarch" that "brings together Godzilla and ... King Kong in an ecosystem of other giant super-species, both classic and new." While Legendary will maintain its home at Universal Pictures, it will continue to collaborate with Warner Bros. for the franchise.[29]

In May 2016, Warner Bros. announced that Godzilla 2 would be pushed back from its original June 2018 release date to March 22, 2019.[30] That same month, Warner Bros. revealed that Edwards had left the sequel to work on smaller scale projects.[31] Edwards also felt that Legendary "needed to get on with things" instead of waiting for him to finish work on Rogue One but expressed his hope to work on Godzilla again one day.[32]

In October 2016, it was revealed that Michael Dougherty and Zach Shields (both of whom worked on Krampus) would write the screenplay for Godzilla 2.[33] A day later, it was reported that Dougherty was also in negotiations to direct Godzilla 2.[34] That same month, Legendary announced that production would also take place at parent company Wanda's Qingdao Movie Metropolis facility in Qingdao, China, along with Pacific Rim: Uprising.[35]

In December 2016, Legendary revealed that the official title for Godzilla 2 would be Godzilla: King of the Monsters.[36] In January 2017, Dougherty was officially confirmed as the director.[37] Dougherty confirmed that he was offered to direct first before being offered to re-write the script.[38] When asked about his reaction after being offered to direct the film, Dougherty stated, "'Yes.' That was my reaction very, very quickly. I felt flattered, honored...and that continues to this day. It was a dream come true. And lots of pressure. Immense, immense pressure."[39] Dougherty described the film as:

"The world is reacting to Godzilla in the same way we would react to any other terrifying incident, in that we are overreacting, but there's paranoia and endless speculation about whether he is the only one out there or whether we're threatened by others like his kind."[5]

While Dougherty loved Gareth Edwards's slow-build, Dougherty revealed that his film will "definitely take the gloves off for this film. No holding back."[40] While comparing his film to Edwards' film, Dougherty stated, "I would call (my movie) the Aliens to Gareth’s Alien." Dougherty elaborated by noting the balance between serious and "fun, tongue-in-cheek moments" from Aliens and that King of the Monsters takes a similar approach.[41]

WritingEdit

In September 2014, it was revealed that Max Borenstein would return to write the script.[27] Borenstein later spoke about the sequel, stating, "The response to the first film was really exciting, but now that that world is established, we can do bigger and even better things."[42] While promoting Kong: Skull Island, Borenstein mentioned that one thing he aimed to do in the Godzilla sequel is make Godzilla more empathetic for the audience, stating:

"When [Godzilla] blows his blue flame down the throat of the other creature—a creature we never empathized with in any way—we're empathizing with Godzilla. That's the thing about the movie that I'm most proud of, and I think Gareth did an amazing job pulling that off. I think that's what sets up our Godzilla franchise in a way that the second Godzilla movie can pick up on to begin to make Godzilla a more relatable, emphatic figure. But it needed that groundwork because you don't immediately invest emotionally in something that looks like a giant dragon or lizard."[43]

For Dougherty's script, he and his team "started over from scratch". Dougherty began with a rough two page treatment that contained basic beats and rough sketches of the characters. Afterwards, a writer's room was assembled that was ran by Dougherty and co-writer/executive producer Zach Shields. They brought in other writers that contributed to building on the treatment. The script took a year to come together. Dougherty also changed, revised, and improved lines during filming and post-production.[38]

Dougherty felt the struggles of writing the script were balancing the monster spectacle "while still creating a story with human characters that we care about."[39] While the previous film focused on Ford with Monarch in the background, Dougherty wanted the film to be focused on Monarch, feeling there was an opportunity to craft the organization as a group of heroes. Due to this, the film became an ensemble piece.[41]

Creature designEdit

"So the concept we’re running with is that this world belonged to them. If anything, we’re the invasive species, and we’ve simply rediscovered something that’s always been there and that they are in some ways, the old gods. The first gods. And that’s something we’re also trying to bring to this film for a more mythological, almost biblical, backdrop to the creatures."

—Dougherty on his approach for the monsters.[44]

The film retcons the monsters' designation from "MUTOs" to "Titans".[45] For the monsters, Dougherty wanted their designs to emit a Godly presence and evoke a sense of worship, stating, "Primitive man saw these creatures, and you want to give them a presence that would make him drop to his knees and bow to this god…It can’t just look like big dinosaurs. Jurassic Park has that covered. These have to be distinct. They have to be their own thing. They’re Titans."[41]

The director instructed the designers to look at the original designs from every era and "distill those silhouettes and those key traits into something more modern." It was important for the director that the Titans were not just simply treated as monsters but "very large animals with a distinct thought process."[38]

For Godzilla, Dougherty wished to put back the "God in Godzilla".[7] He liked the design that Gareth Edwards and Matt Allsopp conceived but wanted to tweak it by adding the dorsal fins of the 1954 iteration, as well as making the claws and feet bigger to make Godzilla look like a more powerful predator. The director had the sound design team expand on Godzilla's roar by making it sound closer to the roars of the 1954 incarnation, stating, "I think they did a great job with Godzilla’s roar in the first movie. I pushed them a little bit further to bring it even closer to the (1954) original even more."[41]

For Rodan, elements of volcanic rock were added to the scales and skin color to make Rodan look capable of living inside of a volcano. Dougherty wanted Rodan's design to resemble something that "Mother Nature could have created".[39] The designers were instructed to not just look at Pteranodons but at various birds such as vultures, eagles, and hawks due to birds being similar to dinosaurs.[38] Dougherty described Rodan as a "a bit of a rogue... you never quite know where his loyalties lie". The director further described Rodan as a "massive A-bomb" that brings "speed and ferocity".[46] Tom Woodruff Jr. and Amalgamated Dynamics provided the design for Rodan.[38]

For Mothra, Dougherty wanted to create something that was "beautiful, and feminine, and elegant, and looked like a true goddess, but also dangerous if she had to be". He attempted to remain faithful to the color palette of the original 1961 incarnation and retaining the eye-spots on her wings. The eye-spots were designed to resemble Godzilla's eyes in order to create a connection between Mothra and Godzilla. Mothra was designed to resemble real moths and given longer legs in order to defend herself against other monsters, another attribute inspired by real moths.[39]

Dougherty researched various moth species and discovered some looked "scary" and "predatory". He wished to maintain a sense of realism for Mothra, stating, "So the approach for Mothra is to create an insectoid, huge creature that looks believable from every angle, and especially in motion."[41] The director found Mothra the most difficult Titan to design because he wished to avoid making Mothra look like a blown up moth. Legacy Effects provided the design for Mothra.[38]

For King Ghidorah, Dougherty wanted to create a "unique" design that still resembled Ghidorah and worked closely with Toho to make sure the new design respected past incarnations. Each head was given its own personality, with the center being the alpha and the others beings its lackeys. He studied various animals, specifically king cobras, in order to add a sense of realism to the design.[39] The designers were instructed to look at different scales from various reptiles to avoid having Ghidorah's scales looking similar to Godzilla or the original Ghidorah.[38]

The director told the design team to maintain an Eastern dragon influence for Ghidorah and to avoid any Western dragon influence, stating, "They’re not traditional western dragons. So those were marching orders from the beginning... We don’t want it to look like Game of Thrones’ dragons."[41] Legacy Effects also provided the design for Ghidorah. While iterating that the film is not a comedy, Dougherty likened Ghidorah to Rip Van Winkle, having a sense of curiosity and cruelty.[38] Producer Alex Garcia described Ghidorah as "not part of the natural order."[47]

Dougherty confirmed that the film would feature original, non-Toho monsters.[48] In March 2019, the names of the non-Toho Titans were revealed as Baphomet, Typhoon, Abaddon, Bunyip, and Methuselah.[7] For the roars, the director felt it was important to "getting the noises right" and gave the sound designers a "super cut" of the monster roars from the Shōwa Godzilla films and had them start from there. He confirmed that the monsters would have new roars that will resemble the original incarnations.[41] Dougherty used the Shōwa roars on a massive speaker system to use on-set for scenes where actors had to run from or react to the monsters.[44]

Pre-productionEdit

In late January 2017, Millie Bobby Brown was the first to be cast for the film, marking it her feature film debut.[49] In February 2017, Kyle Chandler[50] and Vera Farmiga[51] were cast as the parents to Brown's character. In March 2017, it was reported that O'Shea Jackson Jr. was in talks for a role in the film.[52] In April 2017, Aisha Hinds was confirmed to join the cast of the film.[53]

In May 2017, Anthony Ramos,[54] Randy Havens,[55] Thomas Middleditch,[56] and Charles Dance were added to the cast, and Sally Hawkins was confirmed to return.[57] At the time, Ken Watanabe was named but not yet been confirmed to return[52] but later, a press release confirmed Watanabe's return for the sequel.[4] In June 2017, Bradley Whitford[58] and Zhang Ziyi were added to the cast, with the latter playing a "major role" in the MonsterVerse.[59]

In July 2017, Elizabeth Ludlow was added to the cast.[60] In April 2018, Jason Liles, Alan Maxson, and Richard Dorton were cast to provide the performance capture for the heads of King Ghidorah, with Dorton performing the left head, Liles performing the middle head, and Maxson performing the right head. Other actors will perform the body.[61][62] Liles also provided the performance capture for Rodan.[20]

FilmingEdit

Principal photography began on June 19, 2017, in Atlanta, Georgia under the working title Fathom.[63][64] Dougherty confirmed that the film would feature practical effects and creature designs by Tom Woodruff, Jr.[55] Lawrence Sher had been confirmed as director of photography.[4] Parts of the film were shot in the Historic Center of Mexico City between August 19–22, 2017.[65] Dougherty announced the film had wrapped production on September 27, 2017.[66]

Post-productionEdit

Visual effects for the film will be provided by Moving Picture Company, DNEG, Method Studios, Raynault VFX and Ollin VFX. Guillaume Rocheron will be the main visual effects supervisor.[67] In November 2018, Dougherty announced that post-production on the film had officially ended.[68]

MusicEdit

On July 21, 2018, Dougherty revealed that Bear McCreary will compose the film's score, incorporating themes from Akira Ifukube's previous Godzilla scores.[9] Regarding his involvement, McCreary stated, "I am thrilled to be the composer for Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and honored beyond words to have the opportunity to contribute to one of cinema's longest-running musical legacies."[69] The first trailer featured a rearrangement of Claude Debussy's Clair de Lune by Michael Afanasyev for Imagine Music.[70] McCreary further expanded on his plans and involvement, stating,

"I've known Michael Dougherty for a long time, as we both run in the same film-nerd circles. I have always appreciated his love of film music, chatting with him for hours on end over the years about the scores we both love. I was thrilled for him when he landed the gig to direct Godzilla, because I knew what it meant to him. When he later asked me to join the project, I was overwhelmed with excitement, and awe, grateful for the chance to join him in contributing to the legacy of our favorite monster. We knew from the beginning that we wanted to incorporate classic [Akira] Ifukube themes, and yet I think fans will be excited to hear how they have evolved. There are some fun surprises in store. Fitting the material and Michael's visionary film, this score is the most massive I have ever written, and I can't wait for fans to experience it!"[71]

In November 2018, a sample of McCreary's Godzilla theme was leaked online after it was used during a panel at Tokyo Comic Con.[72]

MarketingEdit

Estimate costs for the film's advertisement range from $100–150 million.[2] In June 2017, Legendary's official Twitter account for Kong: Skull Island began posting videos revealing a timeline and background information of Monarch's discoveries, which teased elements for Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Godzilla vs. Kong.[73] During the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con, Legendary revealed an image of a stone sculpture featuring Mothra, two larvae, and an egg.[74]

On July 12, 2018, two first-look images featuring Godzilla unleashing his atomic breath skyward, and Millie Bobby Brown and Vera Farmiga were released, along with a few plot details.[5] On July 18, 2018, a teaser clip was released featuring Millie Bobby Brown[75] and the viral Monarch website went live with documents providing information on the monsters.[76] On July 21, 2018, the first trailer was revealed at San Diego Comic-Con and later released online that same day.[77] In October 2018, Legendary Comics held a panel titled Godzilla: Secrets of the MonsterVerse at the L.A. Comic Con, which presented a sneak peek at the prequel comic Godzilla: Aftershock.[78]

In November 2018, a panel for the film was held at the Tokyo Comic-Con where Dougherty revealed concept art, a teaser for an upcoming trailer, and the S.H.MonsterArts figures revealing the designs of the Titans.[79] That same month, Dougherty revealed a new image of Godzilla from the film with a caption from Verses 33 and 34 in Job Chapter 41 from the New International Bible.[80]

In early December 2018, teaser clips of Rodan,[81] Mothra,[82] and King Ghidorah[83] from a then-upcoming trailer were released online. On December 9, 2018, a new trailer premiered at Comic Con Experience.[84] On December 10, 2018, the film's first teaser poster[85] and CCXP trailer were released.[86] On December 13, 2018, character posters for Rodan, Mothra, and Ghidorah were released.[87] In January 2019, Dougherty released a new image of King Ghidorah via Twitter.[88] In February 2019, four new character poster of Godzilla, King Ghidorah, Mothra, and Rodan were released to celebrate the Chinese New Year.[89]

In March 2019, the film was featured on the cover of Total Film which revealed exclusive photos and information.[90] An extended preview was exclusively presented at WonderCon and CinemaCon.[91][92] Warner Bros. attached the extended preview to IMAX screenings of Shazam!.[93] In April 2019, the main theatrical poster was released online.[94] On April 21, 2019, the extended preview was released on HBO's streaming services.[95] On April 23, 2019, the final trailer was released online.[96]

MerchandiseEdit

In October 2018, Legendary announced plans for a prequel graphic novel titled Godzilla: Aftershock. It will be written by Arvid Nelson, illustrated by Drew Edward Johnson and scheduled to be released in spring 2019.[78] In November 2018, the S.H.MonsterArts figures were revealed at the Tokyo Comic-con[79] In February 2019, it was revealed that the film's novelization would be released on May 31, 2019 and the art book The Art of Godzilla: King of the Monsters would be released on June 4, 2019.[97] In February 2019, NECA, Jakks Pacific, and Bandai revealed their toy lines for the film's monsters.[98][99][100] That same month, the cover art for Godzilla: Aftershock was revealed.[101]

ReleaseEdit

Godzilla: King of the Monsters is scheduled to be released on May 31, 2019, in 2D, 3D, Dolby Cinema, RealD 3D and IMAX by Warner Bros. Pictures,[102] except in Japan where it will be distributed by Toho.[4] The film was originally scheduled to be released on June 8, 2018.[26] However, in May 2016, it was pushed back to March 22, 2019 and then again to its current release date.[103] The film will be released as Godzilla II: King of the Monsters in some markets.[104] The film will also be released in ScreenX formats in some markets.[105] In the United States, the film was given a PG-13 rating for "sequences of monster action, violence, and destruction, and for some language".[106]

SequelsEdit

In September 2015, Legendary moved Kong: Skull Island from Universal to Warner Bros., which sparked media speculation that Godzilla and King Kong will appear in a film together.[107][108] In October 2015, Legendary confirmed that they would unite Godzilla and King Kong in Godzilla vs. Kong, set for a May 29, 2020 release date. Legendary plans to create a shared cinematic franchise "centered around Monarch" that "brings together Godzilla and Legendary's King Kong in an ecosystem of other giant super-species, both classic and new."[29]

Godzilla vs. Kong is scheduled to follow up on March 13, 2020.[109]

ReferencesEdit

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  3. ^ Kalat 2010, p. 25.
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NotesEdit

  1. ^ The U.S. versions of Godzilla (Godzilla, King of the Monsters!), King Kong vs. Godzilla and The Return of Godzilla (Godzilla 1985) featured additional footage with Western actors shot by small Hollywood production companies that merged the American footage with the original Japanese footage in order to appeal to American audiences.[3] Invasion of Astro-Monster was the first Godzilla film to be co-produced between a Japanese studio (Toho) and an American studio (UPA). The first Godzilla film to be completely produced by a Hollywood studio was the 1998 film of the same name.

BibliographyEdit

  • Kalat, David (2010). A Critical History and Filmography of Toho's Godzilla Series (Second Edition). McFarland. ISBN 9780786447497.

External linksEdit