Why 'King Kong vs Godzilla' May Have Just Killed 'Pacific Rim 2' (Update: Guillermo del Toro Responds)

Why 'King Kong vs Godzilla' May Have Just Killed 'Pacific Rim 2' (Update: Guillermo del Toro Responds)

Sep 18, 2015

Update 9/18/15: Hop to the bottom of this post for Guillermo del Toro's response to the news.


Today the Hollywood Reporter ran a piece called "Hollywood Gorilla Warfare" exploring the shifting relationship between three of the biggest players in Hollywood - Warner Bros., Universal and Legendary Pictures - and the future of two of cinema's biggest monsters, King Kong and Godzilla.

It's mainly a lot of inside baseball, but since it does effect Kong, Godzilla and, surprisingly, the fate of Pacific Rim 2, we wanted to break it down.


First, who is Thomas Tull?

Thomas Tull is the CEO of Legendary Pictures, the company that has had a hand in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy, 300, Watchmen, Clash of the Titans, The Hangover, Interstellar, Man of Steel, Pacific Rim, Jurassic World, and even Straight Outta Compton. For the most part, Legendary was a financial partner on many of these movies, several of which would never have gotten the greenlight were it not for Tull/Legendary's backing. 

From 2005 to 2013, Legendary had a partnership deal with Warner Bros. pictures to finance and produce films, which is why Tull's company has been involved with so many of the WB-owned DC Comics movies. 


So why did Legendary leave Warner Bros for Universal Studios?

This is the most inside baseball part of the story, so if you're interested in the more unnamed sources side of things THR has you covered. But, the short, unsexy answer is this: A lot of the time these partnerships just end when a contract does.

Studios like Warner Bros., Universal and Disney may be the big, iconic names to most movie goers, but the reality is a lot of their movies can only happen because smaller production companies take on a lot of the risk. Most of the time this comes in the form of film financing. A company like Legendary may have the money and ability to produce a movie, but they need a full fledged studio to actually get that movie distributed around the world. And so production companies and movie studios enter into multi-year partnerships.

The studios gain a reliable pool of funds, the production companies gain a reliable means of getting movies distributed. When the contract is over, they can try and renew with the same studio or they're free to seek a potentially better deal elsewhere. It's very common for companies to switch partnerships. Even Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks is likely to leave Disney when its contract ends soon. It's just something that happens.


Where do King Kong and Godzilla fit in this whole thing?

Gareth Edwards' Godzilla was one of the last movies Legendary made during its partnership with Warner Bros., but the rights to Godzilla remained at WB when Legendary moved to Universal. Legendary is already knee deep into pre-production on their King Kong reboot, Kong: Skull Island, which was one of the first movies it had planned to make with Universal.

The catch is that apparently Thomas Tull has always had an eye on doing a Kong/Godzilla crossover movie, to the point where Skull Island's script reportedly contains numerous ties to Edwards' Godzilla movie, which is still owned by Warner Bros. Universal was already a bit hesitant to fully commit to Skull Island, a pricey movie to make, and so they've granted Legendary's request to just take the whole project back to Warner Bros.

It's a win-win for everyone. Thomas Tull eventually gets the Kong/Godzilla crossover he's always wanted to make. Warner Bros. gets another franchise. And Universal doesn't have to get involved with a movie that they didn't control from the ground up.


What does this have to do with Pacific Rim 2?

The Kong/Godzilla stuff is a win-win for that whole team, but it going back to Warner Bros. may be a lose for Guillermo del Toro and Pacific Rim 2, which was gaining steam toward an August 2017 release. The reason is simple math. Godzilla made more money than Pacific Rim, so if Legendary is going to be betting hundreds of millions of dollars and years' worth of their time on a future giant monster franchise, the safest route is the one whose first movie was more popular.

This doesn't mean that Pacific Rim 2 is outright canceled, but THR does say that it's been "halted indefinitely." And if Legendary's plan of Kong: Skull Island, Godzilla 2, and then King Kong vs Godzilla does happen, Pacific Rim 2 most likely won't.


Update: But Guillermo del Toro Is Still Working On Pacific Rim 2

According to del Toro, he and writer Zak Penn are still turning in a script and a budget for Pacific Rim 2 in three weeks and that "As far as I'm concerned, it's not gone. We're still on it." He then calls the delay temporary, and closes out with this great line acknowledging that the movies he makes are both costly and not surefire hits.

“I can tell you this, if I was a billionaire, I would definitely do Hellboy 3Pacific Rim 2, and At the Mountains of Madness. And I would quickly become a millionaire.”

So, del Toro is still hoping to make the movie some day. Legendary, who ultimately owns Pacific Rim, can only make so many movies, though. And so even if del Toro really, really wants to make it, it may still be impossible for him to do so.


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