The King of the Monsters is not dead. Long live Godzilla. Audiences around the world have spoken. Their is that they like the new Godzilla movie, co-produced by Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures. The new cinematic reboot of the kaiju movie icon was a huge success this weekend, grossing an estimated $93 million domestically and $103 million overseas. In total, Godzilla has already made close to $200 million worldwide in after its first weekend of release. So, it comes as no surprise that a sequel to Godzilla is already in the works.
On May 1, at a Q&A session after a special screening of the film in Hollywood, Godzilla producer Thomas Tull was asked about a sequel, and he was hesitant to give any details until after the movie opened. Tull appeared cautiously optimistic and hopeful, not wanting to jinx the franchise. At times, audiences can be fickle. While many would likely agree this new Godzilla is a much better movie than the much-maligned Hollywood movie directed by Roland Emmerich and starring Matthew Broderick in 1998, sometimes it is difficult to predict what audiences will like. Last year, Legendary’s big ticket summer tent pole, Pacific Rim, featuring giant Godzilla-like kaiju monsters and giant mecha robots, was a significant underperformer at the box office. The movie managed to gross $411 million worldwide. However, $309 million of that came from overseas audiences. Pacific Rim only managed about $101 million domestically. Furthermore, that is off of a production budget of approximately $190 million–and likely, a hefty sum more for the prints and advertising budget.
However, Godzilla has opened strongly and will not struggle like Pacific Rim, and now Legendary has confirmed that a sequel to their reboot of the cinematic icon created by TOHO is already in the works. The 1998 Godzilla movie only managed to gross $136.3 million domestically and $379 million worldwide. The new Godzilla reboot will certainly eclipse those numbers.
Godzilla was only the sophomore directing effort for helmer Gareth Edwards. His first movie was the 2010 independent film Monsters, made on a shoestring budget of about $500,000. The new Godzilla movie came in on a reported budget of about $160,000 million, so Legendary clearly took a calculated risk betting on Edwards. However, they probably saved money in not going for a bigger name, more expensive director.
There are no details on the direction Legendary Pictures might take with the sequel. Godzilla was licensed from TOHO by Legendary. Jon Jashni developed the story with Mary Parent and Brian Rogers. Max Borenstein scripted the film from a story by David Callaham, and he also wrote a prequel graphic novel story. In addition, Deadline reports that Legendary’s Alex Garcia was significantly involved in the film’s development with Gareth Edwards and Max Borenstein.
One potential hurdle is an ongoing legal issue over credit and payments for the picture with Godzilla and producers Roy Lee, Dan Lin and Doug Davison. The trio of producers reportedly brought the property to Legendary prior to a falling out with the company. The producers and Legendary are currently in litigation over this issue.
Regarding a potential direction of the sequel, the new Godzilla movie did have a visual reference and Easter egg to Mothra, another popular TOHO kaiju movie icon. Mothra, though, would likely have to be another character that Legendary would have to license from TOHO. The antagonist creatures Godzilla faces in the movie, dubbed Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms (MUTO), were original creations; and thus, they did not require another separate license from TOHO. Regardless, a sequel for this new, modern vision of Godzilla is definitely underway. Now the hardcore kaiju movie fans and Legendary can breath a sigh of relief that the movie is a success (garnering a certified fresh rating of 72% at Rotten Tomatoes), and this Godzilla will continue to stomp toward his next challenge.
By Jeffrey Harris