While Godzila vs. King Kong will pit the two giant monsters against each other for the first time in decades, two other titanic clashes are occurring around its release: theatrical vs. streaming and Netflix vs. HBO Max.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix made a $200 million bid to bring the film to their service in lieu of a traditional theatrical release. But, it seems, Legendary Entertainment is in talks to bring the film to HBO Max — a la Wonder Woman 1984. The company has a majority stake in the kaiju match-up while Warner Bros. Pictures, a sister to HBO Max in the AT&T Universe, owns 25% of the film.
But even beyond that, reps for Warner Bros. Pictures told THR it has no plans to premiere the film on a streaming service before its theatrical debut.
The two reports reflect a very different film landscape for the next decade with dueling streamers potentially squeezing out theaters for first dibs at tentpole releases. More surprising, though, is to see Godzilla vs. King Kong at the center of it. Nonetheless, it makes a certain amount of sense to prepare for the pivot from theatrical to home viewing and to use films planned for release in 2020 and early 2021 as test cases. In this example, it proves bidding wars could break out even when a corporate giant has a piece of an anticipated release. It may lead Warner Bros. to be more careful about its investments as AT&T will want the majority of that content to be part of the HBO Max lineup.
Presumably, Warner and Legendary’s relationship will win out and Godzilla vs. King Kong will end up on HBO Max. But it remains to be seen if that debut will coincide with the theatrical run.
Godzilla vs. King Kong is scheduled for release on May 21st, 2021.