Godzilla: King of the Monsters (released as Godzilla II: King of the Monsters in some markets) is a 2019 American epic monster film directed by Michael Dougherty, co-written by Dougherty and Zach Shields, from a story by Max Borenstein, Dougherty, and Shields. A sequel to Godzilla (2014), it is the 35th film in the Godzilla franchise, the third film in Legendary's MonsterVerse, and the third Godzilla film to be completely produced by a Hollywood studio.
The film stars Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, Aisha Hinds, O'Shea Jackson Jr., David Strathairn, Ken Watanabe, and Zhang Ziyi. It is mainly dedicated to executive producer Yoshimitsu Banno and original Godzilla suit performer Haruo Nakajima, who both died in 2017. In the film, humans must rely on Godzilla to defeat King Ghidorah, who has awakened other Titans to destroy the world.
The sequel was green-lit during the opening weekend of Godzilla, with original director Gareth Edwards expected to return. Edwards left the project in May 2016, and Dougherty, who had been hired in October 2016 to re-write the script with Zach Shields, was announced as the director in January 2017. Principal photography began in June 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia and wrapped in September 2017.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters was released on May 31, 2019, to mixed reviews, with praise for the visual effects, action sequences, cinematography, and musical score but criticism aimed at the pacing, tone, story, and characters. It has grossed over $384 million worldwide against production budget of $170–200 million. A sequel, Godzilla vs. Kong, is scheduled for release on March 13, 2020.
The Monarch team follow Godzilla to Antarctica, where Jonah intends to free a three-headed Titan codenamed "Monster Zero", an alleged rival alpha to Godzilla. Emma frees and awakens Monster Zero, which kills several Monarch members, including Dr. Graham, before battling Godzilla and escaping. The team realizes that Emma was not kidnapped by the terrorists, but was secretly working with them. Emma contacts them and argues that the Titans must be awakened in order to heal the Earth from damages that humans have caused.
Jonah and Emma awaken another Titan, Rodan, in Mexico. Monarch lures Rodan into fighting the approaching Monster Zero, but Monster Zero swiftly defeats Rodan before being ambushed by Godzilla, who severs his left head. During the fight, the Navy launches a prototype missile called the "Oxygen Destroyer", seemingly killing Godzilla. Monster Zero, who is completely unaffected, regrows his lost head, and awakens all the other dormant Titans around the world, with Rodan submitting to his rule. Disillusioned and feeling betrayed, Madison disowns her mother.
Through mythological texts, Dr. Ilene Chen discovers that Monster Zero is Ghidorah, an ancient alien seeking to transform the Earth to his own liking. Mothra emerges from her cocoon and flies to Monarch's Bermuda base to communicate with Godzilla, who survived the detonation and is recuperating in an ancient underwater city. Via submarine, the team locates Godzilla's lair, where the whole area is highly radioactive. They deduce that it will take far too long for Godzilla to heal on his own, and decide to detonate a nuclear warhead to speed up the process. Dr. Serizawa sacrifices himself by manually detonating the weapon, which revives Godzilla and increases his power.
In Boston, Emma realizes that the destruction that Ghidorah and the other Titans will bring to the world is much worse than what humans could inflict, but Jonah ignores her pleas to turn back. Madison overhears this and steals the Orca. Arriving at Fenway Park, Madison broadcasts a frequency that calms the Titans and unwittingly attracts all of them to her location. Ghidorah lands in Boston to destroy the Orca, with Godzilla arriving with Monarch's assistance to engage it. Mark leads a team to rescue Madison and escape the city after learning that Godzilla's radiation levels are increasing and will lead to a thermonuclear explosion. Mothra arrives to help Godzilla, but is intercepted by Rodan, who she gets the upper hand on. Just as Ghidorah overpowers Godzilla and prepares to kill him, Mothra sacrifices herself and transfers her energy to Godzilla, rapidly healing him. Mark, Emma, and Madison are reunited and reactivate the Orca to lure Ghidorah away from Godzilla. Emma sacrifices herself, giving Mark and Madison time to escape. Godzilla enters a newly-empowered state, glowing red and melting everything around him. In this state, he easily defeats Ghidorah and disintegrates him completely with several nuclear pulses. After Godzilla reverts to his normal state, Rodan and the other Titans arrive and bow down to him.
During the credits, news clippings and Monarch files show that the Titans are helping to heal the planet, a suspected second Mothra egg has been discovered, some of the Titans are converging on Skull Island, and ancient cave paintings show Godzilla battling Kong. In a post-credits scene, Jonah and his forces purchase Ghidorah's severed left head in Mexico.
Gareth Edwards, the director of 2014's Godzilla, stated that he wanted Godzilla to work as a standalone film with a definitive ending, and he opposed suggestions that the ending should leave the film open for a sequel. He said that he had no problem coming back for a sequel if the film did well, but his main concern was delivering a satisfying experience with the current film, "I want a story that begins and ends, and you leave on a high note. That's all we cared about when we were making this; just this film. If this film is good, the others can come, but let's just pay attention to this and not get sidetracked by other things."
After a successful opening of $103 million internationally, Legendary green-lit the Godzilla sequel, with plans to produce a trilogy and Edwards attached to direct. At the San Diego Comic-Con in July 2014, Legendary confirmed that they had acquired the rights to Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah from Toho. A short teaser clip showing concept art of all three with the ending tagline "Let them fight" was shown. Other details of their appearances in the sequels were not announced. In August 2014, Legendary announced that the sequel would be released on June 8, 2018, and that Godzilla writer Max Borenstein would return to write the screenplay.
In April 2015, Aaron Taylor-Johnson stated that he was unsure if he would reprise his role for the sequel and that his return depended on Edwards' decision. 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 is creating a shared cinematic franchise "centered around Monarch" that "brings together Godzilla and ... King Kong in an ecosystem of other giant super-species, both classic and new." While Legendary will maintain its home at Universal Pictures, it will continue to collaborate with Warner Bros. for the franchise.
In May 2016, Warner Bros. announced that Godzilla 2 had been pushed back from its original June 2018 release date to March 22, 2019, and shortly afterward, that Edwards had left the sequel to work on smaller scale projects. Edwards also felt that Legendary "needed to get on with things" instead of waiting for him to finish work on Rogue One, but expressed his hope to work on Godzilla again one day.
In October 2016, it was announced that Michael Dougherty and Zach Shields (both of whom had worked on Krampus) would write the screenplay for Godzilla 2. A day later, it was reported that Dougherty was also in negotiations to direct Godzilla 2. That same month, Legendary announced that production would also take place at parent company Wanda's Qingdao Movie Metropolis facility in Qingdao, China, along with Pacific Rim: Uprising.
In December 2016, Legendary announced that the official title for Godzilla 2 would be Godzilla: King of the Monsters. In January 2017, Dougherty was officially confirmed as the director. Dougherty stated that he was offered to direct first before being offered to re-write the script. When asked about his reaction to being asked to direct, Dougherty stated, "'Yes.' That was my reaction very, very quickly. I felt flattered, honored...and that continues to this day. It was a dream come true. And lots of pressure. Immense, immense pressure." Dougherty described the film as:
"The world is reacting to Godzilla in the same way we would react to any other terrifying incident, in that we are overreacting, but there's paranoia and endless speculation about whether he is the only one out there or whether we're threatened by others like his kind."
While Dougherty loved the 2014 film's slow-build, he said that he would "take the gloves off for this film. No holding back." While comparing King of the Monsters to the 2014 film, Dougherty said "I would call (my movie) the Aliens to Gareth's Alien." Dougherty elaborated by noting the balance between serious and "fun, tongue-in-cheek moments" from Aliens and that King of the Monsters would take a similar approach.
In September 2014, it was reported that Max Borenstein would return to write the script. While promoting Kong: Skull Island, Borenstein mentioned that one thing he aimed to do in the Godzilla sequel is make Godzilla more empathetic for the audience:
"When [Godzilla] blows his blue flame down the throat of the other creature—a creature we never empathized with in any way—we're empathizing with Godzilla. That's the thing about the movie that I'm most proud of, and I think Gareth did an amazing job pulling that off. I think that's what sets up our Godzilla franchise in a way that the second Godzilla movie can pick up on to begin to make Godzilla a more relatable, emphatic figure. But it needed that groundwork because you don't immediately invest emotionally in something that looks like a giant dragon or lizard."
Legendary's only mandate was to include Monarch, Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah. For Dougherty's script, he and his team "started over from scratch". Dougherty began with a rough two-page treatment that contained basic beats and rough sketches of the characters. Subsequently, a writer's room was assembled that was ran by Dougherty and co-writer/executive producer Zach Shields, with Borenstein participating. Ten writers contributed to building on the treatment. The script took a year to come together. Dougherty also changed, revised, and improved lines during filming and post-production. He felt the struggles of writing the script were balancing the monster spectacle "while still creating a story with human characters that we care about." While the previous film focused on Ford with Monarch in the background, Dougherty wanted the film to be focused on Monarch, feeling there was an opportunity to craft the organization as a group of heroes. Due to this, the film became an ensemble piece.
Dougherty and Shields chose a human story line where the science fiction elements could be replaced with themes such as climate change or eco-terrorism and stand out on its own without the monsters. Dougherty felt that the third act proved the most challenging in terms of writing as many of the human and monster story arcs converged and needed to be resolved. Shields confirmed that Emma's speech to Monarch went through several rewrites. Shields and Dougherty wanted the speech to present a moral question to audiences whether they would put their faith in humanity or Mother Nature.
"So the concept we're running with is that this world belonged to them. If anything, we're the invasive species, and we've simply rediscovered something that’s always been there and that they are in some ways, the old gods. The first gods. And that's something we’re also trying to bring to this film for a more mythological, almost biblical, backdrop to the creatures."
- Dougherty on his approach for the monsters.
The film reclassifies the monsters' designation from "MUTOs" to "Titans". For the monsters, Dougherty wanted their designs to emit a godly presence and evoke a sense of worship, stating, "Primitive man saw these creatures, and you want to give them a presence that would make him drop to his knees and bow to this god...It can't just look like big dinosaurs. Jurassic Park has that covered. These have to be distinct. They have to be their own thing. They're Titans."
The director instructed the designers to look at the original designs from every era and "distill those silhouettes and those key traits into something more modern." It was important for the director that the Titans were not just treated as monsters but "very large animals with a distinct thought process."
For Godzilla, Dougherty wished to put back the "God in Godzilla". He liked the design that Gareth Edwards and Matt Allsopp conceived but wanted to tweak it by adding the dorsal plates of the 1954 iteration, as well as making the claws and feet bigger to make Godzilla look like a more powerful predator. The director had the sound design team expand on Godzilla's roar by making it sound closer to the roars of the 1954 incarnation, stating, "I think they did a great job with Godzilla’s roar in the first movie. I pushed them a little bit further to bring it even closer to the (1954) original even more."
For Rodan, elements of volcanic rock were added to the scales and skin color to make Rodan look capable of living inside of a volcano. Dougherty wanted Rodan's design to resemble something that "Mother Nature could have created." The designers were instructed to not just look at Pteranodons but at various birds such as vultures, eagles, and hawks due to birds being similar to dinosaurs. Dougherty described Rodan as a "bit of a rogue... you never quite know where his loyalties lie". The director further described Rodan as a "massive A-bomb" that brings "speed and ferocity." Tom Woodruff Jr. and Amalgamated Dynamics provided the design for Rodan.
For Mothra, Dougherty wanted to create something that was "beautiful, and feminine, and elegant, and looked like a true goddess, but also dangerous if she had to be." He attempted to remain faithful to the color palette of the original 1961 incarnation and retain the eye-spots on her wings. The eye-spots were designed to resemble Godzilla's eyes in order to create a connection between Mothra and Godzilla. Mothra was designed to resemble real moths and given longer legs in order to defend herself against other monsters, another attribute inspired by moths.
Dougherty researched various moth species and discovered that some looked "scary" and "predatory". He wished to maintain a sense of realism for Mothra, stating, "...the approach for Mothra is to create an insectoid, huge creature that looks believable from every angle, and especially in motion." The director found Mothra the most difficult Titan to design because he wished to avoid making Mothra look like a blown-up moth. Legacy Effects provided the design for Mothra.
For King Ghidorah, Dougherty wanted to create a "unique" design that still resembled King Ghidorah, and worked closely with Toho to make sure the new design respected past incarnations. Each head was given its own personality, with the center being the alpha and the others its lackeys. He studied various animals, specifically king cobras, in order to add a sense of realism to the design. The designers were instructed to look at different scales from various reptiles to avoid having Ghidorah's scales looking similar to Godzilla or the original King Ghidorah.
The director told the design team to maintain an Eastern dragon influence for Ghidorah and to avoid any Western dragon influence, stating, "They’re not traditional western dragons. So those were marching orders from the beginning... We don’t want it to look like Game of Thrones’ dragons." Legacy Effects also provided the design for Ghidorah. While noting that the film is not a comedy, Dougherty likened Ghidorah to Rip Van Winkle, having a sense of curiosity, and cruelty. Producer Alex Garcia described Ghidorah as "not part of the natural order."
Dougherty confirmed that the film would feature original, non-Toho monsters. The names of the non-Toho Titans were revealed as Baphomet, Typhon, Abaddon, Bunyip, Methuselah (a mountain-backed creature), Behemoth (a mammoth-like creature), Scylla (a giant spider), Kraken, Leviathan, and Mokele-Mbembe. For the roars, the director felt it was important "getting the noises right." He gave the sound designers a "super cut" of the monster roars from the Shōwa Godzilla films, and had them start from there. He stated that the monsters would have new roars that would resemble the original incarnations. Dougherty had the Shōwa roars on a massive speaker system to use on-set for scenes where actors had to run from or react to the monsters.
In late January 2017, Millie Bobby Brown was the first to be cast for the film, in her feature film debut. In February 2017, Kyle Chandler and Vera Farmiga were cast as the parents to Brown's character. In March 2017, it was reported that O'Shea Jackson Jr. was in talks for a role in the film. In April 2017, Aisha Hinds was confirmed to join the cast of the film.
In May 2017, Anthony Ramos, Randy Havens, Thomas Middleditch, and Charles Dance were added to the cast, and Sally Hawkins was confirmed to return. A press release confirmed Watanabe's return for the sequel. In June 2017, Bradley Whitford and Zhang Ziyi were added to the cast, with the latter playing a "major role" in the MonsterVerse.
In July 2017, Elizabeth Ludlow was added to the cast. In April 2018, Jason Liles, Alan Maxson, and Richard Dorton were cast to provide the performance capture for the heads of King Ghidorah, with Dorton performing the left head, Liles performing the middle head, and Maxson performing the right head. Other actors perform the body. Liles also provided the performance capture for Rodan.
Matthew E. Cunningham was hired as a Senior Illustrator during the research and development stage. Cunningham designed most of the vehicles after the storyboard artist worked with Dougherty. Senior conceptual designer George Hull provided a series of concept paintings of vehicles and monster imagery. Production designer Scott Chambliss managed all the art directors. Artists would sometimes show concept art to the writers, producers, and director however, Chambliss had final say on what would be shown to Dougherty and the producers. After the illustrations were approved, they were delivered for pre-vis. The visual effects used concept art and pre-vis as a reference. Legacy Effects, who had worked on Edwards' Godzilla, were brought back to provide additional concept art.
Principal photography began on June 19, 2017, in Atlanta, Georgia under the working title Fathom. Dougherty confirmed that the film would feature practical effects and creature designs by Tom Woodruff, Jr. Lawrence Sher had been confirmed as director of photography. Parts of the film were shot in the Historic Center of Mexico City between August 19–22, 2017. Dougherty announced the film had wrapped production on September 27, 2017.
Visual effects for the film were provided by Moving Picture Company, DNEG, Method Studios, Raynault VFX, Rodeo FX and Ollin VFX. Guillaume Rocheron was the main visual effects supervisor. In November 2018, post-production on the film officially ended. Dougherty said that an earlier cut of the film was three hours long. Dougherty affectionately referred to the three-hour cut as Godzilla: The Miniseries. He considered splitting the film into two parts but decided against it, feeling that the final cut is faithful to the core of his original vision.
On July 21, 2018, Dougherty revealed that Bear McCreary would compose the film's score, incorporating themes from Akira Ifukube's previous Godzilla scores. Regarding his involvement, McCreary stated, "I am thrilled to be the composer for Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and honored beyond words to have the opportunity to contribute to one of cinema's longest-running musical legacies." McCreary further expanded on his plans and involvement, stating;
"I've known Michael Dougherty for a long time, as we both run in the same film-nerd circles. I have always appreciated his love of film music, chatting with him for hours on end over the years about the scores we both love. I was thrilled for him when he landed the gig to direct Godzilla, because I knew what it meant to him. When he later asked me to join the project, I was overwhelmed with excitement, and awe, grateful for the chance to join him in contributing to the legacy of our favorite monster. We knew from the beginning that we wanted to incorporate classic [Akira] Ifukube themes, and yet I think fans will be excited to hear how they have evolved. There are some fun surprises in store. Fitting the material and Michael's visionary film, this score is the most massive I have ever written, and I can't wait for fans to experience it!"
The first trailer featured a rearrangement of Claude Debussy's Clair de Lune by Michael Afanasyev for Imagine Music. The Beautiful TV spot and final trailer featured two different renditions of "Over the Rainbow". An alternate mix of Nessun dorma was featured in the extended IMAX preview. LL Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out" was featured in the Exclusive Final Look trailer.
In November 2018, a sample of McCreary's Godzilla theme was leaked online after it was used during a panel at Tokyo Comic Con. In April 2019, WaterTower Music released two tracks from the soundtrack, "Old Rivals", composed by McCreary, and a cover of Blue Öyster Cult's "Godzilla" by Serj Tankian. Brendon Small, Gene Hoglan, and other members of Dethklok contributed to the Tankian cover.
McCreary called the cover "the most audacious piece of music" he had produced in his career, citing the orchestra, choir, taiko chanting, taiko drumming, heavy metal rhythm section, Hoglan’s double-kick drums, and Tankian's vocals used to produce the track. McCreary stated "For [the character] Godzilla, I chose to incorporate and adapt the legendary Akira Ifukube’s iconic theme, and for Mothra, Yūji Koseki’s immortal 'Mothra’s Song'."
The Japanese band Alexandros contributed the single "Pray" for the film's Japanese release. On this decision, Dougherty commented, "we feel incredibly fortunate to have had [Alexandros] contribute such an anthemic song that captures not only the gravitas of the film, but also perfectly complements its dramatic conclusion." The single was released on May 13, 2019.
All tracks written by Bear McCreary, except where noted. The score is also conducted by McCreary.
In June 2017, Legendary's official Twitter account for Kong: Skull Island began posting videos revealing a timeline and background information of Monarch's discoveries, which teased elements for Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Godzilla vs. Kong. During the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con, Legendary revealed an image of a stone sculpture featuring Mothra, two larvae, and an egg.
On July 12, 2018, two first-look images featuring Godzilla unleashing his atomic breath skyward, and Millie Bobby Brown and Vera Farmiga, were released, along with a few plot details. On July 18, 2018, a teaser clip was released featuring Brown, and the viral Monarch website went live with documents providing information on the monsters. On July 21, 2018, the first trailer was shown at San Diego Comic-Con and later released online that same day. In October 2018, Legendary Comics held a panel titled Godzilla: Secrets of the MonsterVerse at the L.A. Comic Con, which presented a sneak peek at the prequel comic Godzilla: Aftershock.
In November 2018, a panel for the film was held at the Tokyo Comic-Con where Dougherty revealed concept art, a teaser for an upcoming trailer, and the S.H.MonsterArts figures with designs of the Titans. That same month, Dougherty posted a new image of Godzilla from the film on Twitter with a caption from the Book of Job originally concerning the Leviathan.
In early December 2018, teaser clips of Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah from a then-upcoming trailer were released online. On December 9, 2018, a new trailer premiered at Comic Con Experience. On December 10, 2018, the film's first teaser poster and CCXP trailer were released. On December 13, 2018, character posters for Rodan, Mothra, and Ghidorah were released. In January 2019, Dougherty released a new image of King Ghidorah via Twitter, and in February 2019, four new character posters of Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah were released to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
In March 2019, the film was featured on the cover of Total Film which revealed exclusive photos and information. An extended preview was exclusively presented at WonderCon and CinemaCon, later in the month. Warner Bros. attached the extended preview to all IMAX screenings of Shazam! and The Curse of La Llorona, while US theater chain AMC Theatres (of which the parent company of Legendary, Wanda Group, are a majority stakeholder in) attached the preview to their IMAX screenings of Avengers: Endgame. In April 2019, the main theatrical poster was released online. On April 21, 2019, the extended preview was released on HBO's streaming services, and then on April 23, 2019, the final trailer was released online.
The Chinese investor and film marketer Huahua Media invested an undisclosed sum to market the film in China. The deal also grants the company participation in the film's box office. In May 2019, a Godzilla head was built on top of the Cinerama Dome to promote the film. That same month, the IMAX and RealD 3D posters were released. Robin Lopez created several TV Spots, titled Robzilla: King of the Mascots, promoting the film and the NBA Playoffs. The website Joe created a mock-trailer, titled Pugzilla: King of the Dogsters, by replacing the Titans with cats and dogs. The video received approval from Dougherty, who shared it on his Twitter. On May 22, 2019, a clip featuring Brown and Ghidorah premiered on The Tonight Show. On May 23, 2019, a new Chinese poster was released.
A prequel graphic novel, Godzilla: Aftershock, was released in May 2019. Aftershock was written by Arvid Nelson and illustrated by Drew Edward Johnson. S.H. MonsterArts figures of kaiju in the movie were released for sale in June 2019. The film's novelization was released on May 31, 2019; the art book The Art of Godzilla: King of the Monsters was released on June 4, 2019. NECA, Jakks Pacific, and Bandai all produced toy lines for the film featuring its monsters.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters was released on May 31, 2019, in 2D, 3D, Dolby Cinema, RealD 3D, and IMAX by Warner Bros. Pictures, except in Japan where it was distributed by Toho. The film was originally scheduled to be released on June 8, 2018. However, in May 2016, it was pushed back to March 22, 2019, and later again to its current release date. The film was released in ScreenX formats in some markets.
In the United States, the film was given a PG-13 rating for "sequences of monster action, violence, and destruction, and for some language." In April 2019, a private screening was held for the press at Toho Studios in Tokyo, which was followed by a 30-minute Q&A with Dougherty and Ken Watanabe. In early May 2019, advanced screenings were held for audiences ahead of the film's release, and on May 17, 2019, a VIP press screening was held in Los Angeles at the AMC Century City theater. The film had its red carpet premiere in Beijing on May 13, 2019. It then had its second red carpet premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood on May 18, 2019.
A group of Taiko drummers delivered a performance signaling the opening of the ceremony prior to the actors' arrival. Prior to the Hollywood premiere, Warner Bros. hosted a block party. A green-screen photo booth was made available that allowed attendees to be placed in scenes from the film. Regal Cinemas offered collectible tickets to IMAX attendees, along with a mini-poster of the ticket image. The collectible tickets were offered in two sizes: Standard (measuring 4” x 7.5”) and Godzilla-sized (5.125” x 9.5″). In June 2019, it was announced that the film would receive a one month theatrical extension in China.
The film is scheduled to be released on Digital HD on August 6, 2019 and on DVD, Bluray, and 4K Ultra HD on August 27, 2019. The 4K release will feature HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision high dynamic range, and a Dolby Atmos soundtrack. Best Buy will release a retail exclusive of its own for the 4K UHD Combo steelbook release.
As of July 28, 2019, Godzilla: King of the Monsters has grossed $109.9 million in the United States and Canada, and $275.2 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $385.1 million. The film had a production budget of $170–200 million, and an additional $100–150 million were spent on marketing. It is estimated the film would have needed to gross $550–600 million in order to break-even.
In the United States and Canada, the film was released alongside Rocketman and Ma, and was projected to gross $55–65 million from 4,108 theaters in its opening weekend. The film made $19.6 million on its first day, including $6.3 million from Thursday night previews, which was lower than the $9.3 million made by the 2014 film but more than Kong: Skull Island's $3.7 million. It went on to debut to $47.8 million, finishing first at the weekend box office but below expectations. Deadline Hollywood said the film "lacked urgency," having debuted its first trailer over a year before the film's release, and not separating its appearance from previous Godzilla films. The film fell 67% in its second weekend to $15.5 million, finishing in fourth, and then to $8.1 million the following weekend, finishing seventh.
Worldwide, the film was initially projected to earn around $180 million from 75 other territories in its opening weekend, for a global total of $230–235 million. It was speculated that the amount could go higher if the film over-performed in China, where it was projected to debut to $75–90 million. The film held early previews in China on May 25, 2019, where it grossed $2.5 million. King of the Monsters made $12.7 million from 51 countries on Thursday and $31.4 million from 75 countries on Friday, for a cume of $48.2 million through Friday. In China, the film grossed $54.15 million through Friday and Saturday. The film ended up grossing a total of $130 million internationally and $177.8 million including North American tallies, far below projections. Its largest markets were China ($70 million), the United Kingdom ($4.4 million), France ($2.6 million) and South Korea ($2.2 million). The film dropped 64% to $47.1 million in its second weekend of international play, for a 10-day running total of $213.7 million.
Cranial scans indicate each of Ghidorah's heads possess different levels of cognitive function and possible independent thought. The middle head is the most intelligent, acting as the alpha, while the left and right heads are more akin to its lackeys.
Mothra was designed to resemble real moths and given longer legs in order to defend herself against other monsters, a quality real moths can do.
Michael Dougherty created Behemoth (which is also a biblical reference) as a companion mammal for Kong, feeling that too many Toho monsters were reptiles or insects. A mammoth was chosen because of Dougherty's fascination with woolly mammoths and because he wanted a big, furry creature that looked like it could have "survived during the Ice Age", elements of sloth and primate were also added to make Behemoth look more than just being a giant mammoth.
Despite there now being 35 Godzilla films since 1954, this film marks the first time Rodan and Adult Mothra have fought.
Rodan's origins are unclear, but he is presumably an ancient creature, due to being depicted in what appears to be an ancient cave painting. Similar paintings exist of Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah, suggesting Rodan either appeared alongside them in the past or is prophesied to appear alongside them in the future. According to Monarch, Rodan is spoken of in legends, with his name referenced within many ancient temples in volcanically active regions. In 1991, Rodan was discovered by Monarch in pyrostasis in the magma inside the Isla de Mara volcano in Mexico.
King Ghidorah was the antagonist in an early draft of the script in Godzilla (2014), having crashed in the Arctic during the last Ice Age and being kept frozen in the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Depository (a cover by MONARCH), before escaping and fighting Godzilla in San Francisco. He was removed by Gareth Edwards, who felt that Ghidorah (being extraterrestrial) did not fit the film's "wrath of nature" theme, and to avoid similarities with the popular alien film Transformers (2007). Ghidorah will, however, appear in this film.
According to Monarch Sciences, Ghidorah (like his arch-rival Godzilla) has been alive for centuries and influenced the depiction of numerous mythological creatures (such as the Rainbow Serpent and the Hydra) which were in fact sightings of him. This trait where monsters had inspired humanity to create mystical creatures from the real world is very similar to the cases seen in Shusuke Kaneko's Gamera Trilogy and his Godzilla. There are more claims of similarities between his works and monsters in the previous film. An idea for Ghidorah to battle Godzilla underwater, as seen in the concept arts released at Tokyo Comic-Con, was also originally introduced to the series within Kaneko's work.
Michael Dougherty knew from the beginning that King Ghidorah origin should be off planet. There was a little bit more to the scene where they discover his name and his origin, where it was sort of debated whether he was from space or whether he was created by man. "So originally in that scene it was sort of more open ended, the idea that they still weren't 100 percent sure what the records they discovered were pointing to, but ultimately, we decided to sort of plant our flag in the extraterrestrial concept because I think that's the concept that most Godzilla fans love and embrace. The notion that he is extraterrestrial means that he could be potentially be more disruptive to our ecosystem".
When asked if the "hollow Earth" civilization that prays at Godzilla's altar was new to the mythology, or was it an inversion of something he found going back to the Toho films, co-writer and director Michael Dougherty stated: "If you do go back and look at the entire library, there are sort of occasional references to lost civilizations. I mean, Mothra's followers are a perfect example, and so are Kong's followers. Mothra's egg tends to be housed in a mysterious temple surrounded by a singing and dancing troupe that's always trying to get her to hatch. So these creatures have a long history of being perceived as gods and deities. So it made sense to me that the Alpha of the group himself would also have a history, a deeper connection, to some ancient civilization that figured out how to spark and maintain a sort of symbiotic relationship with him, probably for their own protection. The same way that there are small fish that swim underneath a shark, or the tiny bird that pecks insects off elephants or rhinoceroses, human beings would be the tiny animals that seek protection under a much larger animal that simply puts up with their presence."
Michael Dougherty revealed in an interview that Dr. Ilene and her twin are very much the Shobijin. And this would would have been revealed in a credits scene - that unfortunately didn't get made because they ran out of time - where the the adult twins would enter an ancient temple where a new set of five-year-old twins would be singing to the new Mothra egg that was mentioned in the credits.
Mothra arrives later to the Final Battle despite being last seen around Godzilla's location and being capable of flight. The credits reveal at some point she laid an egg before joining the final battle. This was confirmed by Doughty on twitter to be the case.
Monarch's cryptid profile describes Mothra's origins as follows: "From erased Nazca lines to the hidden Temple of the Moth, the name "Mothra" is woven throughout the most secret mythologies of our planet. The folklore and fairy tales tell of a winged creature of blinding light, an angel of the clouds whose god-like luminescence has the power to shatter the sky. Ancient spirit tablets discovered in the mountain jungles of the Yunnan Province portray a giant winged alpha of the Lepidoptera order. In all of our findings, human civilization is pictographically shown in poses that imply deification of the so-called "Queen of the Monsters", suggesting that the creature was once a benign part of the natural order. When Monarch containment crews discovered the live Titan chrysalis within the Chinese myth site, Dr. Emma Russell was quickly dispatched to closely monitor the creature that lay dormant within it. A quickening sonar pulse suggests the creature is awakening. If she ever emerges from her ancient slumber, a superspecies that once illuminated the sky will be reborn as Mothra. Pupal DNA samples suggest a remarkable, multi-stage evolution. On reaching adulthood, Mothra's gigantic thorax is capable of emitting beta-wave bioluminescence which can be projected through the intricate patterns on its wings and weaponized into blinding "god rays". As one of the deadliest and most beautiful natural phenomena in Earth's history, no wonder this devastating guardian angel was worshipped as a goddess by the ancient human civilization blessed to witness her."
During a slideshow montage of all the numerous Titans that Monarch knows about, the scientific name shown for Kong is Megaprimatus Kong, which was his scientific name in supplementary material of King Kong (2005).
Mike Dougherty revaled that the right head of Ghidorah is the most-aggressive and bloodthirsty of the three, though that doesn't quite come across. Likely he's the most eager to fight and the smartest in combat. When the middle head roars out a challenge to Godzilla the right head's Quizzical Tilt can be seen as him sizing up his opponent and trying to analyze the situation, and later before Ghidorah flees the Antarctica battle, the right head can be seen spitefully shaking his head. He's also the first to notice important things in battle, such as the speakers in Fenway Park or the electrical transformer.