After opening to $103M internationally — the biggest opening of 2014 so far — and grossing $93M domestic stateside this weekend, it should come as no surprise that Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros.‘ are already developing a sequel to the monster hit. It was confirmed to Deadline this morning that a Godzilla sequel is underway. The beast is currently stomping across international markets to take No. 1 spots in most territories.
The picture was directed by Gareth Edwards, a young British director who grew up on Star Wars and Steven Spielberg films. Godzilla has been made into features before over its 60-year history. The first being in 1954 when the Toho character appeared to be nothing more than a man in a rubber suit, but still fascinated both Japanese and American audiences. It was also made into a film in 1998 by Dean Devlin and director Roland Emmerich but had no where near the opening of this current one. In 1998, the film which starred Matthew Broderick, opened to $44M and went onto gross $136.3M. Worldwide, it grossed $379M. This one could double that.
Edwards has talked about what he would do with a sequel, saying he would use the same kind of restraint that he did for this one. He learned well from watching Spielberg films as the monster was only talked about for the first part of this film. And, of course, there were those reaction shots that added to the suspense. Edwards was given the chance by Legendary’s Thomas Tull who put faith in him to pull this off, having previously done Monsters which only grossed $2.6M in total. Tull has played coy in the media on the subject of a sequel, waiting for Godzilla‘s monster opening to confirm sequel plans. As Dan Fellman (WBros. head of domestic distribution) pointed out, they made more in one night (probably one late night run at 7 PM) than Edwards’ movie did in its entire run. Legendary’s Jon Jashni developed this along with Brian Rogers and Mary Parent. Max Borenstein scripted from a story by David Callaham. Alex Garcia at Legendary was instrumental in the development of this film working, closely with both the director and writer.
It should be noted that there is an ongoing legal dispute over payments/credit on Godzilla winding its way through the courts with filmmakers Roy Lee, Dan Lin and Doug Davison who brought the property to Legendary.
The marketing on this film was excellent, with Legendary Pictures in-house team of Emily Castel, Barnaby Legg, Matthew Marolda and Peter Stone working closely with Warner Bros. and those folks who cut the trailer and did the key art and outdoor, namely vendors Trailer Park and Ignition. The promotional spots — really thought the Fiat one was great — were overseen by Gene Garlock who worked with all the Legendary team as well. Kudos all around.
Godzilla surprised everyone right out of the gate in late nights Thursday with a $9.3M haul and continued to rake in the bucks through the weekend. It is the highest IMAX opener so far this year with $14.1M (or 15%) of the domestic gross and IMAX screens brought in 51% of the international gross.
By ANITA BUSCH