Godzilla vs. Kong may be the next major movie to go straight to a streaming service. On Monday, sources close to the production told The Hollywood Reporter that WarnerMedia was considering putting the movie up on HBO Max rather than sending it to theaters during the coronavirus pandemic. Netflix has also reportedly made an offer, though a Warner Bros. spokesperson said that the movie would go to theaters as planned.
Godzilla vs. Kong is the culmination of three recent monster movies from Legendary and WarnerMedia — Godzilla (2014), Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla: King of the Monsters. For such a highly anticipated movie to go straight to streaming services would be a surprise, although some films of equal scope have already done the same. Given the severity of the coronavirus pandemic, the alternative could cost the studios even more money since the movies would be unlikely to bring in even close to their projected profits.
Sources told THR that Netflix has made a formal offer to host Godzilla vs. Kong for more than $200 million, but that WarnerMedia has tried to block this deal in favor of an offer for its proprietary streaming service, HBO Max. So far, Legendary has declined to comment on the story, but Warner Bros. has issued a statement.
"We plan to release Godzilla vs. Kong theatrically next year as scheduled," a spokesperson for the studio said.
Legendary reportedly paid for 75 percent of the budget of Godzilla vs. Kong, so the studio will be in dire need to recoup that money in ticket sales or digital rentals. The "monsterverse" is Legendary's biggest intellectual property asset, but these movies cost hundreds of millions to make.
As for Warner Bros., it has already resigned itself to all-digital releases in some cases. Wonder Woman 1984 will go straight to HBO Max on Friday, Dec. 25, and other movies may follow. Although Warner Bros. only financed 25 percent of Godzilla vs. Kong, the contract reportedly gives Warner Bros. control of the movie's release, so it may get the final say in this matter.
There is also the question of how big of a loss a streaming-only release of this movie would be for those studios. The critical responses to the recent Monsterverse movies have been mixed, with some fans not caring for the CGI-heavy style. At the time of this writing, Godzilla vs. Kong is still officially slated to be released in theaters only on May 21, 2021.