The Kraken sleepeth: the delay of ‘Godzilla vs Kong’

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Photo courtesy of: Toho/Universal Int/ Wikimedia Commons

A freeze frame from the 1962 'King Kong vs Godzilla.' With the release of 'Godzilla vs Kong' in November of 2020, the two most famous monsters of all time will share the screen for the first time in 58 years.

In 2014, humanity once again came face to face with the king of the monsters. Pitted against previously unknown threats that later would be classified as MUTOs, this 400-foot-tall protector who remained dormant for years became known to a whole new audience. Godzilla returned to the big screen (not big enough) for the first time in 10 years, and returned to American theaters for the first time in 16.

Godzilla remained unchallenged for three years, having restored nature’s balance in the fan-dubbed “Monsterverse.” In 2017, however, the world got a glimpse into 1973 and the resurgence of not only Monarch, the organization dedicated to studying the Titans, but another king. On the banks of Skull Island ruled Kong, the 100-foot ape who would grow into a powerful and fearsome contender in the monster fights.

May of 2019, Godzilla had to resurface to battle against his most formidable opponent yet, the three-headed alien entity Ghidorah. Fighting by his side was the giant butterfly Mothra, who sacrificed herself to save Godzilla, and against him as well was the eagle/pterosaur Rodan.

Godzilla was set to return in March of 2020 to settle an ancient rivalry. A huge increase in seismic activity was reported on a familiar island in the Pacific, and it has been rumored that Godzilla would travel there for energy. There, he would engage in his biggest fight yet, one against Kong. 

Godzilla vs Kong was set to be released on March 13, 2020, until news struck that Warner Bros. would be delaying the film for eight months. They gave no reasoning for this decision; all that is known for sure is that it is final.

This is not the first time that something like this has happened in the production of this film. Godzilla vs Kong was first set to release on May 29, 2020, then pushed up to May 22, then, to avoid the summer onslaught of releases, March 13.

It isn’t like there was not enough buzz about the film for it to be released in March, as the studio’s either brilliant or accidental marketing strategy was working fine. 

A huge increase in seismic activity was reported on a familiar island in the Pacific, and it has been rumored that Godzilla would travel there for energy. There, he would engage in his biggest fight yet, one against Kong.”

— Owen Cummings, '22

In terms of a trailer, there is no trailer. But that is the brilliant marketing of this movie. By not releasing a trailer six months or so in advance, breaking the conventional blockbuster method, there was enough attention gathered from people wondering why there was no promotional material if it comes out in March, alerting people of this imposing March release date. 

This method might have honestly been more effective than a trailer, which is what makes it more worrisome that a delay has been put in place. This gives the studio much more time between now and the release to come out with teasers and things. While that may seem like a good thing, another movie in the Monsterverse begs to differ.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters was released in May of 2019, with a trailer put out almost a year earlier. The two minute advertisement coveted millions of views from excited fans and newcomers to the series, with multiple other trailers and ads being put out between then and the movie’s opening.

Unfortunately, the success of this story was not as big as the monsters that led it. Godzilla: King of the Monsters made only $386 million at the box office, not good for a movie with a $170 million budget. One of the issues was peaking with the first trailer in terms of views and artistic showmanship. That wouldn’t be that big of a problem if it hadn’t been released ten months before the film’s release.

Hype went way down, which is why fans thought that the lack of trailer and looming release was a good strategy for Godzilla vs Kong. Not only would many people be notified there finally is a trailer, it would be close enough to the opening night to remain relevant and in people’s mind. But with such a long delay put into place, this gives the studio an opportunity to possibly mess up and do something along those lines again.

One reason for this delay could be that the studio is actually trying to avoid making the same mistake. They could be redoing parts of the movie itself to make it more pleasing to critics and audiences, or they felt that they needed more time to craft as good of a trailer as they could. 

On Dec. 9, at the Brazilian CCXP, the Monsterverse fandom received something they weren’t supposed to see that confirmed this. Someone in the audience during the Warner Bros. panel at the event leaked a two second clip of the film, and in these two seconds of footage was something bold and beautiful.

The monsters give off the energy of ancient, godlike beings, and the cinematography creates an atmosphere that is both dark and hopeful. ”

— Owen Cummings, '22

The cries of fans from the past few months now seemed to be answered and satisfied. Kong, having grown to the size of Godzilla, with longer hair and large canines, rears up for a punch aimed directly at Godzilla’s head. A massive ship supports the dark silhouettes of the Titans up against the sun setting on the ocean. 

Even this short clip, which has only been visible to the public in an extremely blurry iPhone video format, has shown that this movie will be something legendary. The monsters give off the energy of ancient, godlike beings, and the cinematography creates an atmosphere that is both dark and hopeful. 

It looks like it will be a fair fight. The feedback from viewers has been ecstatic. Warner Bros. has acquired a great marketing strategy after all, with no official trailer leaving ambiguity, but this small piece of film hyping people up for what is to come. Monarch’s files have been declassified, and now the world knows that the two kings will return bigger and stronger than ever.