Interview: Adam Wingard on directing Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire; “They’re more like a buddy cop kind-of duo.”

The epic battle continues! Legendary Pictures’ cinematic Monsterverse follows up the explosive showdown of Godzilla vs. Kong with an all-new adventure that pits the almighty Kong and the fearsome Godzilla against a colossal undiscovered threat hidden within our world, challenging their very existence – and our own. Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire delves further into the histories of these Titans and their origins, as well as the mysteries of Skull Island and beyond.

Once again behind the action is director Adam Wingard, returning to the fray to tame the cinematic beasts and discuss with our own Peter Gray about their “cop buddy duo” teamwork and why he has horror to thank for helming one of this year’s biggest action spectacles.

Lovely to talk to you.  Before I get to the specifics of Godzilla X Kong, I wanted to ask moving into this film, you had primarily directed in the horror field – I’m going to say, You’re Next is perfection – but they were all moderately budgeted, especially in comparison.  Given that you had that leap from those films into Godzilla Vs Kong, was it easier coming into this one?  Knowing how big everything could be?

Well, thanks for mentioning You’re Next.  We’re actually doing a 4K, new colour grade for it coming out soon.  Plug! (Laughs),  But, it’s interesting because I got into doing horror movies initially, because they were the films that I could get financed.  And by financed, I mean they didn’t cost any money to make.  That’s what I could scrounge up in order to make a movie.  Horror movies are interesting because they have an audience no matter what.  Like, they don’t necessarily need name actors or anything like that to be successful.  Sometimes, if a horror movie is just as effective as a horror film, that’s all the production value you need.  You can take off as an up-and-coming filmmaker.  (Horror) is a great place to start.

It sounds like I’ve just kind of used horror to get where I am, but I definitely want to get back into horror at some point.  But my main thrust as a filmmaker, my main drive growing up, was always in big tentpole cinema.  I was a big Star Wars fan, Indiana Jones, the Alien series, etc.  And so that’s always where I wanted to get to as a filmmaker.  But the lessons in horror were very strong, because they forced me a lot of the time to be very creative and not rely on visual effects.  I mean, here I am making a big visual effects movie, but I think one of the greatest things that I did was kind of resist visual effects for so many years in the horror space where we wanted to do everything practically.  The reason for that was that we knew we didn’t have the budget to pay somebody to do it well enough.  I kind of resisted getting into the whole CGI game until I knew that we could afford to make it look good.

At the end of GVK, I believe that’s what you refer to it as?

Yeah, that’s right.  If it was just me and the editor, we would usually say GVK.

But at the end of GVK, we saw that Kong saved the day.  Fair to say that Godzilla had to accept that.  Was there ever that discussion going into this film that maybe they can be buddies from the get-go?  Or do you always need that conflict for this story to have impact?

I mean, my interpretation always at the end of GVK was that there was sort of an uneasy truce.  You know, Godzilla walks away from Kong at the end, but if you look at him, he whips his tail around, like when my cat is being sassy to me (laughs).  He gives him a little, “Okay, whatever.  We’re good for now.”  I mean, they did help each other out, and he’s given a pass.  But, to me, the indication was that Godzilla was kind of saying, “Hey, stick to your end of the bargain, and I’ll stick to mine.”  And by that, I mean, Godzilla runs the surface and Kong can go down to Hollow Earth.  That’s sort of the idea.

This movie was always developed with that concept in mind.  I don’t think there’s anything fun about Godzilla and Kong getting along.  They’re more like a buddy cop kind-of duo, you know? They don’t really like each other, but they have to work together.  That’s the pleasure of watching this.  That sort of dysfunction.

Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire is screening in Australian theatres from March 28th, 2024.

Peter Gray

Film critic with a penchant for Dwayne Johnson, Jason Momoa, Michelle Pfeiffer and horror movies, harbouring the desire to be a face of entertainment news.