Almost two years ago to the day, other journalists and myself were flown down to the Land Down Under – Australia – to visit the set of GODZILLA VS. KONG, and quite frankly, I can’t think of a better place to film a movie like this. Home to its own bevy of over-sized, seemingly-of-another-time creatures, the continent is basically as close to Skull Island as we’re ever going to get. So, filming a chunk of this epic clash between the biggest movie monsters of all time seems about perfect.
The road to releasing GvK has been a little bit rockier than surely anyone involved would’ve hoped. At the time of us getting to visit the set, the most recent entry in the Godzilla franchise – Godzilla: King of the Monsters – (a sequel to the 2014 English-language reboot) was still about two months away, which meant we couldn’t even have a clear picture of where the story was at for this massive mashup that takes place several years after, featuring iconic cinematic creatures. Since then, the release for the movie has shifted back numerous times, first from its March 2020 slot into that summer, and then thanks to the rise of COVID-19, further and further down the 2020 calendar.
Now in a move virtually no one thought would come even in the middle of the pandemic, we’re now about to see the movie, but for most people, it won’t be on a big screen as intended, but at home via the HBO Max streaming app. It may not be the ideal way to watch these titans clash, but no matter; I am here to make sure you have all the information you wish in order to prepare you for the epic conflict. Below are some observations and tidbits from my time on set and with the cast and crew, and should you wish to dive in, and thus risk not going in with a 100-percent-clean slate, now is the time.
1. This takes place about five years after the events of Godzilla: King of the Monsters – and decades after the events of Kong: Skull Island.
2. After the events of KOTM, the “genie is out of the bottle,” and people are fully aware of the presence of monsters on Earth, says producer Alex Garcia.
3. Kong has grown much bigger since we saw him in Skull Island. He also has some grey in his fur, looking aged and battle-worn over the years. He has some “tricks up his sleeve” that he will use against Godzilla during fights.
4. Conversely, Godzilla is “as powerful as we’ve ever seen” and will pose a serious threat.
5. The story will take us back to Skull Island at the beginning, which undergoes a massive event that sets the story in motion.
6. Since the events of KOTM, Godzilla has “maintained a balance” on Earth, as the dominant Titan.
7. Godzilla has been acting up recently, though, taking out buildings and cities…which is obviously a cause for concern.
8. Garcia also hints at a history of conflict between the two species in the past, alluding to a “deeper backstory” we will discover.
9. The two will square off several times over the course of the film, including as Godzilla attacks the transport of Kong (as seen in the trailer).
10. KOTM star Millie Bobby Brown returns as Madison Russell, and she has a love for Godzilla that motivates her journey.
11. It’s been five years since KOTM, and Brown says this movie is “definitely a coming-of-age story” for Madison.
12. Kyle Chandler is also back as her father, Mark Russell, who is now a director of the organization, Monarch.
13. While actors Toby Kebbell and Terry Notary provided motion capture for Kong in Skull Island, there wasn’t much motion capture work used on the ape this time around.
14. Per the two creatures’ fighting styles, Kong is much more versatile and can parkour across buildings, while Godzilla is a heavy hitter who can quickly demolish those buildings.
15. Garcia said that there are a lot of “ancient, primordial elements” to the movie.
16. The film will venture into the Hollow Earth – their version of where the monsters originate.
17. For director Adam Wingard, this marks his first PG-13 movie, having helmed R-rated genre films like You’re Next, The Guest and Death Note.
18. Wingard says tackling a movie like this hones-in on many of his sensibilities as a filmmaker, attributing his loving of blockbuster sci-fi films like Terminator 2 and Aliens when he was younger as what “gatewayed” him into the horror genre.
19. While this movie has an infinitely bigger budget than his previous projects, Wingard says handling the action in his earlier movies prepared him for the epic fight sequences between Godzilla and Kong.
20. Wingard says he didn’t want Godzilla and Kong to feel like “these big props that are kind of in the background.” He wanted them to have full personalities, saying they “have definitive things that they will and won’t do.”
21. Wingard said he wanted to make sure this felt like the “ultimate matchup” between these new versions of Godzilla and Kong, adhering to the design aspects of the creatures to give the audiences a connection to when they saw them in previous movies and where the two are in this one.
22. Wingard said, in regards to whether this is the culmination of something or the start of something new, that he would “love it to be the birth of something new,” but that it depends on how this one is received first.
23. When it comes to potentially more movies, Wingard says he already has ideas where future entries could go.
24. There are more hints about a certain “balance” between Titans and mankind that occurred eons ago.
25. Garcia hinted at an “emotional journey” for both Kong and Godzilla – particularly the latter as a misunderstood figure we’re constantly fighting against.
26. For Kong, the journey to the Hollow Earth provides a chance at finding more of his kind.
27. The monsters we see at the end of KOTM are still around – albeit not destroying everything in sight.
28. Out of the destruction at the end of KOTM, a company emerges, Apex, which aims to provide safety against the creatures that the world now knows about.
29. Demian Bichir plays Walter Simmons, the CEO of Apex, who Gracia said he claims made his fortune “rebuilding a world torn limb-by-limb by monsters.”
30. While famous Toho creatures we saw in KOTM are not present here, there will also be many new creatures in this film as characters venture to Hollow Earth.
31. Garcia hints at “fun” Easter eggs and references to past Kong and Godzilla movies sprinkled throughout.
32. Alexander Skarsgaard enters the series as Nathan Lind, who leads a mission into the Hollow Earth, one of which at the start of the movie goes horribly wrong.
33. Julian Dennison plays Josh Valentine, Madison’s friend who accompanies her on her journey.
34. Brown says Dennison’s Josh is “absolutely, utterly adorable,” and that, “everybody is going to fall in love with him.”
35. Garcia said Dennison and Brown have an “incredible dynamic” on the screen. He also describes Josh as the “voice of reason” alongside Madison.
36. Brian Tyree Henry plays Bernie Hayes, a former Apex employee who accompanies Madison and Josh as they infiltrate the company.
37. Henry said his character is an inventor and scientist, and when asked about a mysterious prop watch he came into the room wearing, he only said “Let’s hope we never have to figure out why I have these things on this watch.”
38. Henry says the role of Bernie will show the world a “completely different side” of him as an actor.
39. A key element of the movie will be the company Apex making use of what appeared to be a severed King Ghidorah skull – which was built for the movie and that we got to step inside.
40. The design inside of the skull was cloaked in a blue, neon light, laced with wires and modern technology, hinting at a blend of sci-fi and expected monster-movie elements.
41. Production designer Tom Hammock says the team built Hollow Earth by referencing both the look of Skull Island as well as real-life ancient cultures, such as the Assyrians.
42. Hammock says this is his seventh movie with Wingard, and he says in prep for the movie, the two of them watched every Godzilla movie and every Kong movie in a “crazy marathon,” picking out references to possibly include for eagle-eyed fans.
43. The climactic final battle between Godzilla and Kong will take place in Hong Kong.
44. Hammock said the design of Hong Kong was meant to make it look a bit more futuristic, with taller buildings in place so that Kong could have an environment to engage with, akin to a jungle.
45. Along with many of the films within the Godzilla and Kong franchises, the production team was inspired by movies like Pacific Rim, War of the Worlds (2005), The Poseidon Adventure, and Children of Men, in terms of trying to get a feel for technicality, scale, and crowds amidst the destruction.
46. Also among the new cast, Eiza Gonzalez plays Maya Simmons, who is very involved with the hunt for and transporting of Kong.
47. Rebecca Ferguson plays Ilene Andrews, a scientist who specializes in the history of Kong and the other Titans.
48. Japan’s Shun Oguri makes his English-language debut here as Ren Serizawa, the son of Ken Watanabe’s Ishiro Serizawa from the previous two Godzilla movies.
49. Zhang Ziyi, who played twin sisters Dr. Ilene Chen and Dr. Ling in KOTM, is back for this one.
50. Other roles in the star-studded ensemble will be filled by Jessica Henwick, Lance Reddick, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, and more.
For More details and interviews from our set visit, Click Below!
GODZILLA VS. KONG opens on March 31 in the US both in theaters and on HBO Max for 31 days following release.