JoBlo Joins Adam Wingard for a look at Godzilla x Kong: A New Empire

Adam Wingard takes JoBlo on a tour behind the scenes for Godzilla x Kong: A New Empire arriving in theatres on March 29th

Godzilla x Kong

The two Titans of the Monsterverse are back! March 29th sees the return of Godzilla and Kong, yet this time, they may have to work together. Adam Wingard‘s return to the franchise Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire promises to bring audiences to an exciting new world. The latest installment promises a whole heaping of monsters that will fill the screen nicely with its upcoming IMAX release. This past Thursday, JoBlo was invited to see the new film and get a good look behind the scenes as the upcoming franchise chapter prepares to roar into the theatres.

You can look for a full review closer to release, but there was a very spirited vibe during the WB event and screening. Best of all, the event was joined by Mr. Wingard himself to give us a little insight into what we were about to witness. However, even before our inside look, we were given a glimpse at some of the costumes worn in the feature. They also had on display the toys lined up with monsters and fun. Frankly, I want all of them. It was an impressive event that was all the more enjoyable thanks to the charming nature of Wingard’s presence.

Having spoken to the filmmaker in the past, he’s always been an incredible interview subject. The man loves making movies, which was displayed when watching him talk with glee about the Monsterverse. Before the screening, we gathered to see a collection of artifacts, images, and much more. All of which inspired the massive beasts on display in the film. Once my group had gathered in a room that looked straight out of a production office, Mr. Wingard chimed in for some of his inspiration for A New Empire.

Surrounding us in the room were a series of photographs and images. All of which represent the stages of Godzilla and King Kong. And specifically, the director’s inspiration behind the new film. And perhaps my favorite one is how big Adam’s cat “Mischief” played a role. In the movie, his cat also makes a cameo, so all cat lovers have that to look out for. And yes, Adam had much more to say about Godzilla x Kong: A New Empire—everything from the look of the film to the many monsters and, of course, the toys.

Godzilla x Kong

ADAM WINGARD: “The idea was that we created this room with a lot of our concept art as a way to communicate my vision to cast, crew, producers, studio, and everybody so that everybody understood what movie we were making. And that all started with a wall exactly like this that we had at the beginning of the walkthrough. This was the vision board that I created, and as you can see, I’m obviously a child of the ’80s. And so where my influences as a filmmaker started really was that experience of walking down the toy aisle as a kid and just being bombarded with all these neon colors. It was like the golden age for toys in the ’80s with Thundercats, He-Man, Transformers, G.I. Joes. For whatever reason, that’s ingrained in my psyche, and my introduction to Godzilla started in that same era.

The way I experienced Godzilla for the first time was being at home before preschool, and Godzilla would be playing on daytime TV. And it was always the Showa-era films like Invasion of the Astro Monster, Hedorah, and Destroy All Monsters; that kind of technicolor psychedelic vibe really interfaced nicely with the experience of the ’80s neon colors. And so that’s the starting point for me with this movie I really wanted to bring those kind of influences into the Godzilla world and bring it back in my own way to that Showa-era fun and colorful vibe.

And so, moving on here, one of my biggest influences in life is my cat, Mischief, and Mischief has been a big influence in terms of some of the ways I’ve developed mannerisms with Godzilla. And in a literal way, she came through in this film; as you can see, this shot of Godzilla in the Coliseum was a direct lift from my cat sleeping in her cat bed. Funny enough, a couple of weeks ago, I had a conversation with Yamazaki, who directed Godzilla Minus One, and it turns out that his cat was a major influence on the movie Godzilla as well. So I don’t know what the deal is with these cats. I think that maybe they’re just mind-controlling.

Mischief also makes a cameo in the film too. You can’t miss it, actually. In Godzilla vs. Kong, it was important to me to create a continuity between the other Monster vs. Godzilla movies. So I didn’t change up Godzilla’s design at all, but it felt like we’re five movies into the Monsterverse. It was time for a cool evolution of Godzilla, but I didn’t want it to just be like, “Okay, we need to sell new toys of Godzilla. How do we create a new design?” I wanted to see a new Godzilla, but I wanted it to be story-driven. So, his evolution became one of the main propulsive plot points in the movie. Our lead creature designer, Jared Krichevsky, created this new look, and he created a lot of Skar King, and he did Mechagodzilla in the last movie.

Kong’s journey is an emotional one in these films, and Godzilla vs. Kong is all about Kong trying to find his home. This film’s really about Kong finding his people, and he’s a lonely character. And what’s exciting in this film is, yes, he’s going to find others of his kind, but it’s not going to be straightforward. It’s not going to be, probably, what he was hoping for and it’s going to be a little bit more complicated, but you can see we developed a lot of our artwork. Kong always has a lot of personality and emotion in what we’re trying to develop here.

And this wall right here, this is all about the team-up, and I guess you could call it the rematch, but it’s not that straightforward. When I watched Godzilla vs Kong in the theater, it was an emotional thing because it was during the pandemic. It was one of the first movies that opened up back in movie theaters. And I’ll never forget just that moment at the end of the movie when Godzilla and Kong briefly team up to go against Mechagodzilla. It was just like, man, it was like 20% capacity, but that thing was like the roof was blown off. People just love seeing them work together. And so I knew, okay, we’re going to do a sequel. That one was about the verses this is about the team-up, but these characters like Godzilla and Kong, their influences for me are kind of ’80s buddy cop films. They have a dysfunctional relationship. They might be friends, but it’s not going to be as straightforward as that. And they might not even like each other necessarily. One of my other big influences is the movie They Live, that’s my favorite film of all time.

The thing I love about They Live is that the best sequence in the movie is not about the hero versus the villain. It’s the heroes fighting each other because of a misunderstanding. And so this rematch is more complicated than that, and you’ll see what I mean when you understand the way they lived and how they met up again in this film. So, for the world here, this is the payoff, really, of what this inspiration wall set up. In the last movie, Godzilla vs. Kong, we had a quick fly through Hollow Earth, but in this film, we really get to live in it and experience all the different places and environments that it has. What’s cool about Hollow Earth is that it’s a pre-historical place. It’s almost like traveling back in time. There are so many different environments, and in this film, we get to explore lots of them.

We use Iceland as a base for a lot of our real plate photography. It was always important. No matter how big and crazy and outlandish we got, we always wanted something to ground it. Therefore, it was very important that we try to use as many plate photographs as possible for a starting point. And on the surface level, we got to really go to town and see different aspects of Monarch and the bases on the surface level.

Again, going back to that influence I had as a kid, the way that toys really spoke to me and built my creativity up. I wanted to create environments that, almost from the pullback view, give you the feeling of a toy set, but then you get in close and you see the chipped paint, you see the dirt. It’s real. And that’s sort of what this film is all about, in a way. It’s trying to take these big stylized ideas and then make you believe them and show you something you’ve never seen before. But you can’t just do something that’s obviously just crazy for crazy’s sake because that’s easy.

Godzilla x Kong

And so then, lastly, we have our monster wall, and what’s cool about this is that in Hollow Earth, we get to really experience the full ecosystem. It is not just about the big Titans; it’s also about the ones that are on the side, and it just makes it feel like a real lived-in place. We get to revisit some Titans that just only had a small cameo in the last film, which is exciting.

I put this image up here to start because when you’re designing these movies, you have to create things that just are very almost technical and give you, “Okay, this is what this character looks like, and this is what they look like from a three-quarter angle,” and all that stuff. But there were a couple of images that we did that were strictly to give you the feeling of some of the excitement and the vibe. And with the Skar King, I wanted to figure out what his personality was in a visual way. And so that’s why with Skar King, we always really try to develop him. He’s our villain in this movie, and we wanted to really get his attitude, even from the early days of the design. And the Skar King’s a really cool villain because he’s the biggest threat that the monsters have to face, but it’s not in a way that you would expect.

He’s an ape, so he has different intentions and ideas from those of a normal monster. He’s not just going on instinct. And so being able to play with that and say, “Okay, if we have Kong, what’s the anti-Kong?” And this film, not only do we develop that, but we also have the anti-Godzilla, which is going to be a little bit more of a surprise. And I think that part of the reason why Skar King is such a major threat is because of the way that they interface, so I’m excited for you guys to see that. And then, of course, almost like the starting point of this film, which started around this little guy, Suko, which I’m excited for you to see. He’s, in a way, the heart and soul of the movie, and he’s something that has to be experienced because he’s very cute, but his looks can be deceiving.

And so again, going back to Kong’s emotional journey, when you’re doing a movie like this, the action scenes are a no-brainer; that’s an obvious thing. You’ve got to have big action scenes. But what’s really exciting is being able to do a movie where you get to see monsters just being monsters and seeing the way that they communicate with each other. And so we get to really explore. It almost becomes a character study for monsters at certain points in this movie. We really get to get in their head and be in their reality. And so as a director, that was the main thing that, for me, was like, I can’t wait to get into this. And you guys are at the right place for this; we’re about to see this big motherfucker in IMAX, and we got about 49 minutes, I think, of full IMAX aspect ratio.

Almost all the major monster sequences in the movie have it, so this is the way to see it. That’s all I got for you.”

Look for much more here at JoBlo on Godzilla x Kong: A New Empire before it brings a little mayhem to theatres on March 29th!


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JimmyO is one of’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.