Godzilla vs. Kong (Courtesy of Warner Bros.)
While nearly every movie has been delayed in wake of the pandemic, Warner Bros. has taken the unusual step of releasing “Godzilla vs. Kong” two months earlier than expected.
The legendary monsters will face off on March 26, instead of May 21, in theaters and on the streaming service HBO Max.
Legendary Entertainment, the production company behind “Godzilla vs. Kong,” recently engaged in a public spat with Warner Bros., threatening to take legal action over the studio’s decision to send all of its 2021 movies to HBO Max on the same day they debut in theaters. Legendary was frustrated, in part because Warner Bros. had previously blocked Netflix’s $250 million bid to buy the monster movie. However, the two companies have reportedly hashed out frustrations and settled on a release strategy that satisfied both parties.
“Godzilla vs. Kong” carries a price tag around $160 million, which means the sci-fi action adventure will struggle to turn a profit based on ticket sales alone. Asian countries may be a saving grace, since monster movies tend to be popular overseas. Moreover, HBO Max is only available in the U.S. so international audiences won’t have to debate whether to stream the film at home or watch on the big screen. But even so, Legendary has rights in China, Japan and other international territories so Warner Bros. may not even benefit from “Godzilla vs. Kong” reaching blockbuster status overseas.
Warner Bros. first tested its hybrid rollout plan last December “Wonder Woman 1984.” The superhero sequel has generated $132 million globally to date. That may be a strong tally by pandemic standards, but it’s a dismal result for a film that cost $200 million to produce and many, many millions to market worldwide.
Adam Wingard directed “Godzilla vs. Kong,” the fourth entry in Legendary’s monster universe following 2004’s “Godzilla,” 2017’s “Kong: Skull Island” and 2019’s “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” The upcoming crossover event — starring Alexander Skarsgard, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall and Brian Tyree Henry — pits the otherworldly giants against each other in an epic battle.
Variety's Rebecca Rubin contributed to this post.