The MonsterVerse, sometimes called the Legendary era or Legendary series by fans, is a series of giant monster films featuring Godzilla and King Kong produced by Legendary Pictures and distributed by Warner Bros. The MonsterVerse began in 2014 with Godzilla, and was followed by Kong: Skull Island in 2017. Two more films, Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Godzilla vs. Kong, are planned for release in 2019 and 2021, respectively.
Legendary Entertainment confirmed at the July 2014 San Diego Comic-Con International that it had acquired the rights to Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah from Toho and revealed concept footage with the closing title cards reading "Conflict: inevitable. Let them fight". In September 2015, Legendary announced that the film Kong: Skull Island would not be developed with Universal Studios. Instead, it would be developed with Warner Bros., which sparked media speculation that Godzilla and King Kong would appear in a film together.
In October 2015, Legendary announced plans to unite Godzilla and King Kong in a film titled Godzilla vs. Kong, set for a 2020 release date. Legendary plans to create a shared cinematic franchise "centered around Monarch" (the secret government agency which debuted in 2014's Godzilla) and that "brings together Godzilla and Legendary’s King Kong in an ecosystem of other giant super-species, both classic and new". While Legendary will maintain its home at Universal, it will continue to collaborate with Warner Bros. for the franchise. Later in October, it was announced that Kong: Skull Island will have references to Monarch.
In May 2016, Warner Bros. announced that Godzilla vs. Kong would be released on May 29, 2020, and that Godzilla: King of the Monsters would be pushed back from its original June 2018 release date to March 22, 2019. In October 2016, Legendary announced that Godzilla: King of the Monsters would be filmed at its parent company Wanda's Oriental Movie Metropolis facility in Qingdao, China, along with Pacific Rim: Uprising. That same month, it was revealed that Legendary was planning a "writers' room" to create their Godzilla–Kong cinematic universe, with Alex Garcia overseeing the project for Legendary.
In early January 2017, Thomas Tull, founder of Legendary, resigned from the company, but remains producer for the Godzilla–Kong series, which is officially titled "MonsterVerse". In March 2017, Legendary assembled a writers room to develop the story for Godzilla vs. Kong, with Terry Rossio (who co-wrote an early unproduced script for TriStar's Godzilla) leading a team consisting of Patrick McKay, J. D. Payne, Lindsey Beer, Cat Vasko, T.S. Nowlin, Jack Paglen, and J. Michael Straczynski. On his experience with the writers room, Rossio stated, "Godzilla versus Kong was my first experience running a writer's room, and it was fantastic. It was a blast reading samples, meeting different writers, and crafting a story in a group setting. It felt similar to animation, where the film is happening up on the walls, and the end result is better than any one person could accomplish on their own."
|Film||U.S. release date||Director(s)||Story by||Screenplay by||Producer(s)||Status|
|Gareth Edwards||David Callaham||Max Borenstein||Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, Mary Parent and Brian Rogers||Released|
|Kong: Skull Island||March 10, 2017||Jordan Vogt-Roberts||John Gatins||Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein and Derek Connolly||Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, Mary Parent and Alex Garcia|
|Godzilla: King of the Monsters||May 31, 2019||Michael Dougherty||Max Borenstein,||Mary Parent, Alex Garcia, Brian Rogers, and Thomas Tull||Released|
|Godzilla vs. Kong||March 31, 2021||Adam Wingard||Terry Rossio, Michael Dougherty, and Zach Shields
Eric Pearson and Max Borenstein
|Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, Mary Parent||Unreleased|
- Main article: Godzilla (2014 film)
The film retells Godzilla's origins in contemporary times and is set 15 years after a nuclear meltdown in Japan which subsequently awakens two giant parasitic creatures, known as "MUTOs", who ravage the countryside in order to reproduce but in doing so, awaken a much larger, more destructive, ancient alpha predator, known as "Godzilla", whose existence has been kept secret by the U.S. government since 1954. The film introduces Godzilla, the MUTOs, and the Monarch organization to the MonsterVerse.
In 2004, director Yoshimitsu Banno acquired permission from Toho to produce a short IMAX Godzilla film which was in development for several years until the project was eventually turned over to Legendary Pictures. In March 2010, Legendary announced to have acquired to rights to Godzilla for a feature film reboot. In January 2011, Gareth Edwards was announced as the director for the film. The film was co-produced with Warner Bros. Pictures with filming completed in 2013 in Canada and the United States for release in 2014. Godzilla was released on May 16, 2014 to positive reviews from critics and was a box office success, grossing $200 million domestically and $529 million worldwide against its $160 million budget.
Kong: Skull Island (2017)
- Main article: Kong: Skull Island
The film is set in 1973 and follows a team of scientists and Vietnam War soldiers who travel to an uncharted island in the Pacific and encounter terrifying creatures and the mighty Kong. The film introduces King Kong, Mother Longlegs, Sker Buffalos, Mire Squid, Leafwing, Psychovulture, Spore Mantis, Ramarak, and the Skull Crawlers to the MonsterVerse and a post-credits scene introduces Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah to the MonsterVerse.
In July 2014 at the San Diego Comic-Con, Legendary announced a King Kong origin story, initially titled Skull Island, with a release date of November 4, 2016, and Universal Pictures distributing. In September 2014, Jordan Vogt-Roberts was announced as the film's director. In September 2015, Legendary moved development of the film from Universal Pictures to Warner Bros. to create an expanded cinematic universe. Principal photography began on October 19, 2015, in Hawaii and various locations around Vietnam. Kong: Skull Island was released on March 10, 2017 to positive reviews from critics and was a box office success, grossing $167 million domestically and $565 million worldwide against its $185 million budget.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)
- Main article: Godzilla: King of the Monsters
As Monarch struggles to deal with humanity's survival, three new monsters named Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah rise to combat Godzilla for supremacy.
Prior to announcing a shared cinematic universe between Godzilla and King Kong, Legendary originally intended to produce a trilogy with Gareth Edwards attached to direct the sequels, however, Edwards left the sequel in May 2016 to work on smaller scale projects. In January 2017, Michael Dougherty was announced as the director and co-writer for the film. Principal photography began on June 19, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. The film is scheduled to be released on March 22, 2019 in 2D, 3D, and select IMAX worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, except in Japan where the film will be distributed by Toho.
Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)
- Main article: Godzilla vs. Kong
Legendary first announced the film in October 2015 when it also announced its plans for a shared cinematic franchise featuring Godzilla and King Kong. In May 2016, Warner Bros. announced that the film would be released on May 29, 2020. In March 2017, Legendary assembled a writers room to develop the story for Godzilla vs. Kong. In May 2017, Warner Bros. bumped the film's original release date to a week early, from May 29 to May 22, for a Memorial Day weekend release. That same month, Adam Wingard was announced as the director for Godzilla vs. Kong. However, the film would eventually be pushed do to the COVID-19 pandemic and would eventually be situated on March 31, 2021 after it was moved around the schedule several times.
In addition to the films, Legendary and Warner Bros. have licensed additional MonsterVerse-related media, including books and video games.
- Godzilla: Awakening - Graphic novel prequel to Godzilla (2014)
- Godzilla: The Official Novelization - Novelization of Godzilla (2014)
- Godzilla: The Art of Destruction - Art book for Godzilla (2014)
- Godzilla: With Light and Sound! - Sticker book for Godzilla (2014), includes a Godzilla toy
- Skull Island: The Birth of Kong - Graphic novel prequel to Kong: Skull Island
- Kong: Skull Island - The Official Movie Novelization - Novelization of Kong: Skull Island
- The Art of Kong: Skull Island - Art book for Kong: Skull Island
- Godzilla: Smash3
- Godzilla: Strike Zone
- Godzilla: Crisis Defense
- Godzilla (PlayStation 3 / PlayStation 4) - Includes the Legendary Godzilla as a playable character
- Godzilla: Kaiju Collection - Includes the Legendary Godzilla
- All of the films in Legendary's MonsterVerse are set to be distributed by Warner Bros. (except in Japan, where Toho will distribute the Godzilla films), despite Legendary's current distribution partner being Universal Pictures. This is because Toho's deal with Legendary to grant them the Godzilla license was made exclusively with it and Warner Bros.
- The MonsterVerse is the first series in which Godzilla does not deliberately cause destruction in the first film. While Godzilla was portrayed as the protagonistic monster in the first film of the Millennium series, Godzilla 2000: Millennium, he was still depicted causing destruction and attacking humans, while the Godzilla in Legendary Pictures' Godzilla is never seen intentionally causing destruction or threatening human characters, though he does cause minor destruction as a byproduct of his size.
- The MonsterVerse will feature the first meeting between Godzilla and King Kong since the Showa series.
- The MonsterVerse so far features seven actors who have also appeared in or will appear in films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Corey Hawkins, Brie Larson, and John C. Reilly.
- Despite being kaiju films also produced by Legendary Pictures, the 2013 film Pacific Rim and its upcoming sequel are not part of the MonsterVerse, as they are not part of the same continuity as Legendary's Godzilla and Kong films, and any future Pacific Rim films are set to be distributed by Universal instead of Warner Bros.
- So far, each film in the MonsterVerse has or will have a different director.