Next year's Godzilla vs. Kong was a movie several years in the making. While not quite as big as Batman v Superman or Avengers: Infinity War, the cinematic universe that crated both Godzilla and Kong: Skull Island, has been one of the few non-comic book cinematic universes to actually survive out of the several different attempts that were conceived following Marvel's proof of concept. Following a COVID-induced delay, the battle we've all been waiting for will finally take place, but will the knock down drag out brawl between Godzilla and King Kong actually be as big as fans are hoping?
A recent article in the New York Times about Warner Bros. recent announcement to release Godzilla vs. Kong, and the rest of the studio's 2021 film slate on HBO Max, reveals that the reported budget for Godzilla vs. Kong is $155 million. While that's certainly not a small number, it's actually smaller than every other film in the franchise. The first Godzilla had a budget of $160 million, while King of the Monsters fell somewhere between $170-$200 million. Kong: Skull Island's budget was reportedly $185 million.
While things may change in a post-pandemic world, it's fairly unusual for a franchise to see a budget shrink. Most of the time new movies in a series only see budgets increase, as the next movie tries to be bigger and better than the last one. However the drop between the last Godzilla movie and this one is significant if these number hold up.
The most obvious reason why the budget for the new movie may have been taken a hit is clearly box office. Godzilla: King of the Monsters saw a worldwide box office total of about $386 million, which was down significantly from Godzilla's $524 million. Kong: Skull Island made $566 million. The drop in box office on the most recent film may have given the studio concerns as to how Godzilla vs. Kong will be embraced by audiences so the film, which was going into production just as King of the Monsters was hitting theaters, may have seen a budget cut at the last minute.
Considering that the box office take of Godzilla vs. Kong will now be severely hampered by the fact that the movie will be released on HBO Max as well as in theaters, any money that was saved on production is probably being seen as a good thing right now. The question is if the smaller budget forced the movie to make concessions when it came to displaying the massive creatures on screen. Whether watching the movie on the big screen or the small one, fans are going to want to see impressive battles between these creatures and the possibility certainly exists that we might not get everything we dreamed of if the money wasn't there to make it happen.