Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a 2019 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. The film stars Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Ken Watanabe, and Zhang Ziyi. It is one of Yoshimitsu Banno's last films as executive producer, as he died on May 7, 2017.
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 and ended in September 2017. Godzilla: King of the Monsters was released on May 31, 2019, in 2D, 3D, Dolby Cinema and IMAX. A sequel, Godzilla vs. Kong, is scheduled to follow up on May 22, 2020.
The new story follows 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.
- Kyle Chandler as Mark Russell:
- Emma's ex-husband. He joins a rescue mission along with Dr. Serizawa and Dr. Graham to save Emma and Madison.
- Vera Farmiga as Dr. Emma Russell:
- A paleobiologist working for Monarch who is kidnapped, along with her daughter Madison, by a "mysterious organization, with their own plans for the creatures." Farmiga has described her character as being a "DJ for the monsters", stating, "She has figured out a way to communicate with the creatures and potentially control them using their bioacoustics on a sonar level." She described the film being about "saving the environment."
- Millie Bobby Brown as Madison Russell:
- The 14-year-old daughter of Emma and Mark Russell. She is kidnapped along with her mother, and has a connection to Mothra.
- Ken Watanabe as Dr. Ishiro Serizawa:
- A scientist working for Monarch.
- Sally Hawkins as Dr. Vivienne Graham:
- A scientist working for Monarch as Serizawa's right-hand.
- The communications liaison between Monarch and the U.S. government.
- O'Shea Jackson Jr. as Barnes:
- A chief warrant officer who's a part of the special military forces group run by Monarch called the G-Team, and leads soldiers in battles involving Titans.
- Zhang Ziyi as Dr. Chen:
- A scientist working for Monarch like her mother and grandmother before her. She specializes in deciphering the mythological backgrounds of the Titans.
Additionally, David Strathairn reprises his role as Admiral William Stenz. Anthony Ramos portrays Corporal Martinez, and Jonathan Howard portrays Asher, while Aisha Hinds, Elizabeth Ludlow and Randy Havens appear in undisclosed roles. CCH Pounder plays a senator. Jason Liles, Alan Maxson and Richard Dorton portray the heads of King Ghidorah via performance capture. Liles also portrays Rodan via performance capture.
- 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
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."
After a successful opening of $103 million internationally, Legendary green-lit the Godzilla sequel with plans to produce a trilogy and Edwards attached to direct. 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.
In the fall of 2014, Legendary announced that the sequel would be released on June 8, 2018, and that writer Max Borenstein would return to write the screenplay. 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.
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.
In May 2016, Warner Bros. announced that Godzilla 2 would be pushed back from its original June 2018 release date to March 22, 2019. That same month, Warner Bros. revealed that Edwards had left the sequel to work on smaller scale projects. Edwards also felt that Legendary "needed to get on with things" instead of waiting for him to finish work on Rogue One.
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. A day later, it was reported that Dougherty was also in negotiations to direct Godzilla 2. 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.
In December 2016, Legendary revealed that the official title for Godzilla 2 would be Godzilla: King of the Monsters. In January 2017, Dougherty was officially confirmed as the director. 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 likehis kind."
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."
In September 2014, it was revealed that Max Borenstein would return to write the script. 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." 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, referencing the end of the first film, "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."
In late January 2017, Millie Bobby Brown was the first to be cast for the film, marking it her feature film debut. In February 2017, Kyle Chandler and Vera Farmiga 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. In April 2017, Aisha Hinds was confirmed to join the cast of the film.
In May 2017, Anthony Ramos, Randy Havens, Thomas Middleditch, and Charles Dance were added to the cast, and Sally Hawkins was confirmed to return. At the time, Ken Watanabe was named but not yet been confirmed to return but later, a press release confirmed Watanabe's return for the sequel. In June 2017, Bradley Whitford and Zhang Ziyi were added to the cast, with the latter playing a "major role" in the MonsterVerse.
In July 2017, Elizabeth Ludlow was added to the cast. 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. Liles also provided the performance capture for Rodan.
Principal photography began on June 19, 2017, in Atlanta, Georgia under the working title Fathom. Dougherty confirmed that the film would feature practical effects and creature designs by Tom Woodruff, Jr. A casting call confirmed that the film will feature Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah. Lawrence Sher has been confirmed as director of photography. Parts of the film were shot in the Historic Center of Mexico City between August 19–22, 2017. Dougherty announced the film had wrapped production on September 27, 2017.
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. In November 2018, Dougherty announced that post-production on the film had officially ended
On July 21, 2018, Dougherty revealed that Bear McCreary will compose the film's score, incorporating themes from Akira Ifukube's previous Godzilla scores. 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." The first trailer featured a rearrangement of Claude Debussy's Clair de Lune by Michael Afanasyev for Imagine Music. 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!"
In November 2018, a sample of McCreary's Godzilla theme was leaked online after it was used during a panel at Tokyo Comic Con.
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. During the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con, Legendary revealed an image of a stone sculpture featuring Mothra, two larvae, and an egg.
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. On July 18, 2018, a teaser clip was released featuring Millie Bobby Brown and the viral Monarch website went live with documents providing information on the monsters. On July 21, 2018, the first trailer was revealed at San Diego Comic-Con and later released online that same day. 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. That same month, Legendary Comics held a panel titled Godzilla: Secrets of the MonsterVerse at the L.A. Comic Con, which presented a sneak peek at Godzilla: Aftershock.
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 SH MonsterArts figures revealing the designs of the Titans. 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.
In early December 2018, teaser clips of Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah from a then-upcoming trailer were released online. On December 9, 2018, a new trailer premiered at Comic Con Experience. On December 10, 2018, the film's first teaser poster and CCXP trailer were released. On December 13, 2018, character posters for Rodan, Mothra, and Ghidorah were released.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is scheduled to be released on May 31, 2019, in 2D, 3D, Dolby Cinema and IMAX by Warner Bros. Pictures, except in Japan where it will be distributed by Toho. The film was originally scheduled to be released on June 8, 2018. However, in May 2016, it was pushed back to March 22, 2019 and then again to its current release date. The film will be released as Godzilla II: King of the Monsters in some markets.
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. 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."
Godzilla vs. Kong is scheduled to follow up on May 22, 2020, with Adam Wingard directing the film.