The MonsterVerse has brought in some disappointing numbers for Warner Bros., but that doesn't mean it's a failure - at least not yet. Though the MonsterVerse certainly isn't the MCU, it hasn't gone the way of Universal's Dark Universe either. As a shared cinematic universe populated by beloved movie monsters like Godzilla and King Kong, along with at least three classic Toho kaiju, the MonsterVerse has the potential to be a big success; it just isn't there yet.
It all began in 2014 with the release of Legendary's 2014 summer blockbuster, Godzilla. Directed by Gareth Edwards, Godzilla was Hollywood's second attempt to bring the Japanese pop culture icon to the big screen, and the first one to be well-received by both critics and fans. After the release of the first movie, it was announced that Legendary had acquired from Toho the rights to use three more of its properties: Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah. All three were inserted into the story of the 2019 sequel, Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
The MonsterVerse is more than just Hollywood's take on Toho's universe of giant monsters. The other central figure in the MonsterVerse is King Kong, who originally belonged to RKO. Initially, Legendary was developing a King Kong movie with Universal, but moved it to Warner Bros. in order for the character to exist in the same universe with Godzilla. In 2015, Godzilla vs. Kong was announced as only the second movie in history where the two monsters appear together. Two years later, the MonsterVerse was given its official name. Now, nearly a year ahead of the release of its last confirmed film, the MonsterVerse's future is in question.
The MonsterVerse's Future Is Concerning
The third installment in the MonsterVerse, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, was expected to be a big blockbuster hit for Warner Bros., but unfortunately it failed to live up to expectations. While fan reaction was mostly positive, Godzilla: King of the Monsters was divisive with critics, as it currently sits at 41% on Rotten Tomatoes. Its poor reviews are reflected by its box office performance. King of the Monsters only grossed $108.3 million domestically and $385.9 million globally. With an estimated budget of $200 million, these aren't encouraging figures.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters' box office struggles understandably led to concerns that it would affect the status of the fourth movie in the franchise, Godzilla vs. Kong. It was recently reported that Godzilla vs. Kong has been officially delayed. Warner Bros. pushed the movie back by eight months, moving its March 13, 2020 release to November 20, 2020. It's believed that the delay occurred as a result of Warner Bros. and Legendary's commitment to making sure Godzilla vs. Kong is a success. Also, there's the troubling fact that Godzilla vs. Kong is the last confirmed film on Legendary's slate for the MonsterVerse, which means that a new MonsterVerse installment hasn't been announced since 2015. All things considered, there's good reason to be concerned about the MonsterVerse's future.
Why The MonsterVerse Hasn't Failed (Yet)
Despite King of the Monsters' box office woes, Warner Bros. has expressed an unwavering confidence in the franchise, which could be credited to its earlier successes. Godzilla, which was well-liked by critics for how Gareth Edwards revolutionized the giant monster movie with a unique cinematic approach, managed to rake in $524.9 million - that was an impressive number for the franchise's first movie. The next movie, Kong: Skull Island, brought in a satisfying $566.6 million, so it is fair to say that the MonsterVerse got off to a good start.
But then the MonsterVerse stumbled with Godzilla: King of the Monsters, though it didn't fall. While it's true that the movie didn't do well, it wasn't a box office bomb either. Perhaps one of the MonsterVerse's saving graces is its home video sales. Movies in the MonsterVerse typically perform well on the DVD and Blu-ray sales charts. In fact, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, despite being the franchise's least successful movie, easily topped the charts for home video sales upon its release. Furthermore, the 2014 Godzilla was still ranked in the top 20 in the weeks leading up to King of the Monsters' Blu-ray and DVD release (via GORMARU). In short, while things may not be looking good for the MonsterVerse right now, it's not all bad.
Legendary's MonsterVerse Can Still Succeed
Godzilla: King of the Monsters' box office numbers hurt the MonsterVerse, but they didn't doom it by any means. There's still plenty of room for success in the days ahead, but the MonsterVerse's future may depend on Godzilla vs. Kong. The upcoming crossover movie is its biggest yet, and something that Legendary has been building up to for a while. Expectations are high for the new film, and with it being a movie that features the two most iconic monsters in cinema, it should be able to meet those expectations at the box office. If it doesn't, then it's hard to imagine Warner Bros. having any degree of confidence in Godzilla 3, Kong 2, or a spinoff about a different Titan.
The MonsterVerse can't survive if Godzilla vs. Kong is another Justice League, which was a highly-anticipated crossover movie that turned into a box office disaster. The DCEU was able to recover by branching off into different directions with Aquaman and Shazam!, but Warner Bros. doesn't have the same luxury with the MonsterVerse. DC had access to other big-name heroes who could turn a profit at the box office, but the MonsterVerse can only rely on Godzilla and Kong until it establishes itself as a trusted franchise.
Only if Godzilla vs. Kong is a huge hit can the MonsterVerse start looking to expand its world by using different Titans to lead its movies. If Godzilla vs. Kong can really get the MonsterVerse off the ground, there are multiple different directions it can go. At that point, Warner Bros. may be confident enough to make sequels to Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Kong: Skull Island, additional team-ups, and maybe even movies that focus on new monsters.
- Godzilla vs. Kong (2020) release date: Nov 20, 2020