Godzilla: King of the Monsters was originally scheduled to arrive in 2018, but ended up being delayed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Sixty years after Godzilla made their big screen debut in Ishirō Honda's 1954 classic, the big fella was rebooted for American audiences by Legendary and then lesser-known director Gareth Edwards. Whereas Roland Emmerich's 1998 Godzilla remake (unsuccessfully) tried to refashion the sci-fi franchise as a cartoonish blockbuster, Edwards' reboot took a decidedly more grounded and dramatic approach. In the end, it was a hit and grossed over half a billion dollars at the global box office, in addition to respectable reviews.
In doing so, Edwards launched a shared universe of giant monster movies that's since come to be known as simply the MonsterVerse. The franchise continued in 2017 with Kong: Skull Island - a King Kong origin story set in the immediate aftermath of the Vietnam War - and was originally slated to pick up in 2018 with King of the Monsters, followed by Godzilla vs. Kong in 2020. And while the latter's on schedule to arrive next year (with You're Next filmmaker Adam Wingard calling the shots), the Godzilla sequel has since been delayed until this week. The reason? A little property called Star Wars.
Here's what happened: Edwards was initially attached to direct King of the Monsters after he completed his work on Lucasfilm's prequel-spinoff, Rogue One. The Godzilla sequel was even scheduled to arrive four years after the MonsterVerse's reboot, in order to give Edwards the time he needed to finish his Star Wars movie. Then, in May 2016, Warner Bros. revealed that King of the Monsters (which didn't have a title at that time) had been pushed back to 2019. Edwards departed the project three days later, reportedly because he wanted to take a break from tentpoles and focus on smaller films after making Godzilla and Rogue One back to back. He was subsequently replaced on the sequel by writer-director Michael Dougherty (Krampus) around the beginning of 2017.
King of the Monsters will ultimately hit theaters five years after the Godzilla reboot, which isn't exactly ideal for a sequel meant to expand a shared universe. Kong: Skull Island's post-credits scene even included a direct tease for King of the Monsters, so it's clear the film was designed to hype the next MonsterVerse entry's arrival a year after, before it was pushed back. The Godzilla sequel is now expected to open lower at the U.S. box office than its predecessor and Skull Island, with current estimates predicting a $54 million three day take. Of course, the delay isn't the only factor to consider here. King of the Monster is also facing much stronger competition than the previous MonsterVerse films did, including Disney's live-action Aladdin (in its second week of release) and the critically-acclaimed Elton John biopic, Rocketman.
Somewhat ironically, King of the Monsters was finished in November 2018 and has been waiting for its May 2019 release date ever since. However, even with the delay following Edwards' decision to step down (which was probably influenced by Rogue One's reshoots) and lowered box office projections, the Godzilla sequel's in decent shape right now. Early reactions have praised the film's giant monster battles, so its opening weekend take could rise thanks to the positive buzz. WB and Legendary are no doubt happy about the news, seeing as Godzilla vs. Kong is already in post-production and gearing up to begin its marketing blitz at San Diego Comic-Con this summer (much like King of the Monsters did at SDCC 2018). Still, it's interesting to consider what might've been, had Rogue One not thrown a wrench in the studio's original plan for the MonsterVerse.
- Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) release date: May 31, 2019
- Godzilla vs. Kong (2020) release date: Mar 13, 2020