In the wake of giant blockbusters like Mulan and Wonder Woman 1984 debuting on streaming instead of waiting for mass theatrical exhibition to be safe again, Godzilla Vs. Kong might be embarking on a similar path. Per The Hollywood Reporter, it is very likely that the big-budget Monster-verse crossover extravaganza will make its bow on a streaming service — and two of the biggest ones have the money to mess around and find out who wins.
The film is produced by Legendary Pictures and distributed by Warner Bros., which would lead one to believe it would debut on HBO Max like its WB brethren Wonder Woman 1984, right? Maybe not. Sources say that Netflix swooped into Legendary with an offer worth more than $200 million for its streaming debut; an offer that would give Legendary a nice piece of cash flow (especially given the fact that it’s carrying the majority of the financial burden of an unreleased blockbuster film) and Netflix a nice piece of international cultural relevance. This offer has allegedly prompted the powers that be at HBO Max to scramble and find their own counteroffer to keep it all in the WB family; however, a Warner Bros. spokesperson commented, “We plan to release Godzilla vs. Kong theatrically next year as scheduled.”
That theatrical release date, at the moment, is May 21, 2021, but a lot can happen between now and then, especially if pandemic-era woes about packing into a theater stay as prevalent as they are now. If I had to guess who will win between Netflix and HBO Max, my money’s on the big red N, especially given how much money they continue to have during the pandemic (wild cancellations notwithstanding), how much HBO Max and WB just scrambled and faltered with their Tenet and Wonder Woman 1984 bunglings, and how desperate Legendary must be to earn some kind of return investment on this property (i.e., they’ll want the quickest deal, which Netflix feels ready to offer). Plus: Netflix wants as many big-budget blockbusters as they can acquire, especially given the lucrative money available in international markets like China, which Netflix does not have a presence in. Maybe Netflix can include a limited theatrical release in safe countries as part of their offer, only growing their footprint into the size of, well, a giant kaiju.