Next year, the biggest showdown in the history of cinema will go down, literally, when King Kong goes head-to-head against Godzilla in Legendary's upcoming Godzilla Vs Kong. The film will serve as a culmination for the studio's MonsterVerse franchise that started in 2014 with Godzilla. Yet, despite being the most highly-anticipated film in the series, Legendary has allotted the least budget for the project out of all the MonsterVerse flicks so far.
According to a report by The New York Times, Godzilla vs. Kong cost about $155 million to make. In contrast, the budget for Godzilla: King of the Monsters was between $170-$200 million, while the budget for 2014's Godzilla was $160 million, and Kong: Skull Island was $185 million.
The relatively low budget for Godzilla vs. Kong seems strange at first. After all, the film promises to deliver the most action-packed story in the MonsterVerse yet. Not only will King Kong fight Godzilla and the rest of his Kaiju brethren, but the two icons of monster cinema will also have to team up at some point to take on an even greater threat, rumored to be Mechagodzilla. You would think Legendary would go all out to ensure no resources are spared in making Godzilla vs. Kong the most epic version of a titanic grudge match that it can be.
Unfortunately, the truth is, the MonsterVerse has been far from the success that the studio had hoped it would be. While the movies in the series have performed decently, they have not brought in MCU numbers, so much so that after the disappointing box-office performance of Godzilla: King of the Monsters, there were rumors that the entire franchise might shut down.
While Legendary decided to move ahead with Godzilla vs. Kong, they are clearly trying to keep the budget in check to temper expectations from the box-office. In any case, a $155 million budget is nothing to sneeze at and more than enough to have the film feature state of the art VFX visuals.
Unfortunately, a lower budget is not the end of Legendary's woes. The studio was reportedly blindsided by their distribution partner WarnerMedia's decision to release Godzilla vs. Kong on HBO Max at the same time as in theaters, and are now planning on taking legal action against Warner to address the issue, according to Deadline's Mike Fleming Jr.
"Legendary Entertainment either has or will send legal letters to Warner Bros as soon as today, challenging the decision to put the Denis Villenueve-directed Dune into the HBO Max deal, and maybe Godzilla vs. Kong as well. On the latter, Legendary reportedly had Netflix ready to pull the film from Warner Bros for around $250 million, before WarnerMedia blocked it. Sources said Legendary had no advance notice before last week's announcement that both Dune and Godzilla Vs. Kong were part of the HBO Max plan."
Directed by Adam Wingard and written by Eric Pearson and Max Borenstein, Godzilla vs. Kong stars Alexander Skarsgard, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, and Brian Tyree Henry. The film arrives May 21, 2021, in theaters and on HBO Max. NYTimes was the first to report these findings.