Principal photography began in November 2016 in Australia. The film was released in the United States on March 23, 2018, by Universal Pictures, in 2D, Real D 3D, IMAX 3D and IMAX, and has grossed $266 million worldwide, making it the ninth highest-grossing film of 2018. It received mixed reviews from critics; with some calling the film inferior to del Toro's first film and a "tedious watch", criticizing the script, humor and direction, and others praising it as "fun, goofy entertainment", while praising the visual effects and performances of Boyega and Spaeny.
Ten years after the Battle of the Breach, former Jaeger pilot Jake Pentecost – son of Kaiju War hero Stacker Pentecost – makes a living by stealing and selling Jaeger parts on the black market in the Los Angeles area. After he tracks part of a disabled Jaeger's power core to the secret workshop of fifteen years old Jaeger enthusiast Amara Namani, both are arrested by the Pan-Pacific Defense Corps after an altercation with Jaeger "November Ajax." Jake's adoptive sister and PPDC General Secretary Mako Mori gives Jake a choice between prison and returning to the PPDC as an instructor with Amara as his recruit.
Upon arriving at a Shatterdome in China, Jake starts training Jaeger program cadets with his estranged former co-pilot Nate Lambert. Nate and Mako reveal to him that the Jaeger program is threatened by Shao Corporation's drone program, which offers to mass produce Kaiju-Jaeger hybrid drones developed by Liwen Shao and Dr. Newton Geiszler. Mako is due to deliver a final assessment to determine the authorization of the drones at a PPDC council meeting in Sydney, but is killed by rogue Jaeger Obsidian Fury before she can report. Her death prompts the PPDC council to authorize the drone program and order their immediate deployment. Moments before her death, Mako transmitted the location of a defunct Jaeger production facility in Siberia.
When the drones reach their respective locations, they are taken over by cloned Kaiju brains and simultaneously attack Shatterdomes worldwide, inflicting heavy casualties on the PPDC forces and incapacitating almost all Jaegers. Hermann Gottlieb seeks out Geiszler for help, only to discover that Geiszler is the mastermind behind the attack. Geiszler’s mind has been taken over by the Precursors, the alien race who created the Kaiju, due to his regularly drifting with Kaiju brains. Seeking to destroy the world for the Precursors, Geiszler, now the Precursor Emissary, commands the drone-Kaiju hybrids to open new breaches all over the world.
The cadets are mobilized while Gottlieb and Shao repair the PPDC's four remaining Jaegers; Gottlieb invents Kaiju-blood-powered rockets, which launch the team to Tokyo. Although the Jaegers initially repel the Kaiju, the Precursor Emissary merges them into one gigantic beast that quickly overpowers the team, killing Suresh, wounding Nate, and leaving Gipsy Avenger the only operational Jaeger. Jake and Amara pilot it against the "Mega Kaiju," with Shao remote piloting Amara's small, single-pilot Jaeger Scrapper aiding them by locating and welding a rocket to "Gipsy's" right hand and sending the larger Jaeger into the Mega Kaiju which kills the creature. Jake and Amara survives by transferring into "Scrapper" prior to the collision. Nate takes the Precursor Emissary into custody.
The captive Precursor Emissary threatens that his masters will attack the world over and over again. Jake replies that next time, humanity will be the ones attacking the Precursors.
John Boyega as Jake Pentecost
Scott Eastwood as Nate Lambert
Cailee Spaeny as Amara Namani
Madeleine McGraw as Young Amara Namani
Rinko Kikuchi as Mako Mori
Charlie Day as Dr. Newton Geiszler
Burn Gorman as Dr. Hermann Gottlieb
Jing Tian as Liwen Shao
Adria Arjona as Jules Reyes
Zhang Jin as Marshal Quan
Karan Brar as Suresh Khuran
Ivanna Sakhno as Viktoriya "Vik" Malikova
Mackenyu as Ryoichi
Shyrley Rodriguez as Renata
Levi Meaden as Ilya
Rahart Adams as Tahima Shaheen
Zhu Zhu as Juen
Nick E. Tarabay as Sonny
In 2012, prior to the first film's release, del Toro noted that he had ideas for a sequel, noting in 2014 that he had been working on a script with Zak Penn for several months. In June 2014, del Toro stated that he would direct the sequel, and that it would be released by Universal Pictures, Legendary's new financing and distribution partner, on April 7, 2017. In July 2015, it was reported that filming was expected to begin in November, though production was halted following conflicts between Universal and Legendary. As the sequel's future became unclear, Universal indefinitely delayed the film. Still determined to have the film made, del Toro kept working and by that October announced that he had presented the studio with a script and a budget.
After the sale of Legendary to Chinese Wanda Group for $3.5 billion, observers noted an increased likelihood of Pacific Rim 2's production being revitalized because the first film was so successful in China.
In February 2016, the studio, and del Toro himself via Twitter, announced that Steven S. DeKnight would take over directing duties, with a new script written by Jon Spaihts, marking DeKnight's feature directorial debut. del Toro remained on the project as a producer. Derek Connolly was brought in on May 12, 2016, to rewrite the script again.
Cast announcements began in June 2016, with John Boyega accepting a role, and news that Scott Eastwood was in talks appearing later that month. Further announcements took place in September and November. A notable absence from the cast was Charlie Hunnam, who could not join the project because of his scheduling conflicts with King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.
Principal photography on the film began on November 9, 2016, in Australia. On December 14, 2016, the official title was revealed to be Pacific Rim Uprising. In February 2017, three new Jaegers for the film were revealed. On March 8, 2017, filming started in China.Filming was completed on March 30, 2017.
Composer John Paesano was originally slated to be writing the score for the film, replacing the first film's composer Ramin Djawadi. However, in January 2018, it was announced that Paesano had been replaced by Lorne Balfe.
Legendary Comics released Pacific Rim: Aftermath on January 17. 2018. The six-issue comic book series serves as a bridge between the two films.
Pacific Rim Uprising was released on March 23, 2018 in the United States, in 3D, IMAX, and IMAX 3D, by Universal Pictures. Originally scheduled for release on April 7, 2017, the date was postponed multiple times. The film was pushed back to August 4, 2017, then to February 23, 2018, and one final time to March 23.
Pacific Rim Uprising grossed $59.2 million in the United States and Canada, and $230.9 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $290.1 million. Due to a production budget between $150–175 million, and at least another $140 million spent on total promotion and advertisement, the film needed to gross at least $350 million worldwide in order to break even.
In the United States and Canada, Pacific Rim Uprising was released alongside Midnight Sun, Sherlock Gnomes, Unsane, and Paul, Apostle of Christ, and was projected to gross $22–29 million from 3,703 theaters in its opening weekend. The film made $2.35 million from Thursday night previews, down from the original's $3.5 million, and $10.4 million on its first day (including previews). It went on to debut to $28 million, becoming the first film to dethrone Black Panther (which made $16.7 million in its sixth week) for the top spot. It fell 67% to $9.2 million in its second weekend, finishing 5th.
In Korea, the film ranked first on March 22, with 82,486 admissions. In China, the film opened at number one, grossing $21.36 million on its first day and $25.84 million on its second, for a two-day gross of $48.59 million. It went on to have a debut of $65 million in the country, as well as $6.9 million in Korea, $6.8 million in Russia and $4.9 million in Mexico, for an international opening weekend of $122.5 million.
Pacific Rim Uprising is a springboard for a cinematic universe, where DeKnight revealed "If enough people show up to this, we've already talked about the plot of the third movie, and how the end of the third movie would expand the universe to a Star Wars/Star Trek-style [franchise or series] where you can go in many, many different directions... You can go main canon, you can go spin-offs, you can go one-offs. Yeah, that's the plan." DeKnight also talked about the possibility of a crossover with the MonsterVerse, as co-writer T.S. Nowlin is a member of its writers room.