Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire Director on ’80s Inspiration, His Cat Inspiring Godzilla’s Mannerism, Godzilla Minus One’s Oscar Win

John Nguyen

Yesterday, Warner Bros. held a special early screening of Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire at IMAX HQ in Los Angeles, and director Adam Wingard was present to give the media a tour of the behind-the-scenes concept art, idea board, and more. Concept art was shown of new threats like Skar King and a new “friendly” face with Suko, the child ape Titan. As for the movie itself, I’ll be able to share my reaction and review very soon.

Wingard shared with us his vision board for Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, which featured classic Godzilla movies, Megadeth, Masters of the Universe, the pyramids of Giza, and more. Just by looking at it, you know that the director was a child of the ’80s.

Adam Wingard, director of Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

“And the idea was that we did this room with a lot of our concepts as a way to communicate my vision to the cast, crew, producers, and studio so that everybody understood what movie we were making,” Wingard said. “And that all started with a wall exactly like this that we had at the beginning of the walkthrough, and this was sort of like the vision board that I created. As you can see, I mean, I’m obviously a child of the ’80s and so my influence as a filmmaker really was that experience of walking down the toy aisle as a kid and being bombarded with all these neon colors. And, you know, it was like the golden age for toys in the ’80s with Thundercats, He-Man, Transformers and G.I. Joe.”

The Showa era Godzilla films were when Wingard first discovered the popular kaiju, and he wanted to infuse the style into Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire.

“Whatever reason that’s ingrained in my psyche and my introduction to Godzilla started in that same era,” he explained. “And the way I experienced Godzilla for the first time was being at home before preschool and Godzilla will be playing on daytime TV and it was always the Showa era films like Invasion of Astro Monster, Ghidorah, Destroy All Monsters. That kind of technicolor psychedelic vibe really interfaced nicely with my sort of experience of the ’80s, kind of neon colors. And so that’s the starting point for me with this movie. I really wanted to bring those kinds of influences into the Godzilla world and kind of bring it back, in my own way, to that Showa era kind of fun and colorful body.”

2024 is a good year for Godzilla fans with Wingard’s upcoming film and also Godzilla Minus One making history at the 2024 Academy Awards for winning Best Visual Effects. This marked the first time a Godzilla film has received an Academy Award and the first Japanese Language film to win in the VFX category. Director Takashi Yamazaki and his team were excited to receive the award on stage.

I was able to ask Wingard what his thoughts were about Godzilla Minus One winning an Oscar.

“Well, I mean, who would have ever thought you’d see something like that,” Wingard replied. “It’s really an exciting day. I mean, I’m so excited for Yamazaki too, and it’s so well deserved and the movie just looks incredible. So it’s super awesome. I saw John Carpenter tweeting about it the other day. I was like, ‘Oh wow, that’s awesome.'”

Wingard also shared about how both he and Yamazaki are cat owners and how both of their cats inspired Godzilla.

“One of my biggest influences in life is my cat, Mischief,” the director said. “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 kind of lift from my cat sleeping in her cat bed. And funny enough, like 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 way he developed Godzilla as well. So I don’t know what the deal was with these cats. I think that maybe they’re just mind-controlling us”

About Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire

Synopsis: 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, while uncovering the mythic battle that helped forge these extraordinary beings and tied them to humankind forever.

The film is directed by Adam Wingard and stars Rebecca Hall (“Godzilla vs. Kong,” The Night House”), Brian Tyree Henry (“Godzilla vs. Kong,” “Bullet Train”), Dan Stevens (“Gaslit,” “Legion,” “Beauty and the Beast”), Kaylee Hottle (“Godzilla vs. Kong”), Alex Ferns (“The Batman,” “Wrath of Man,” “Chernobyl”) and Fala Chen (“Irma Vep,” “Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”).

The screenplay is by Terry Rossio (“Godzilla vs. Kong” the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series) and Simon Barrett (“You’re Next”) and Jeremy Slater (“Moon Knight”), from a story by Rossio & Wingard & Barrett, based on the character “Godzilla” owned and created by TOHO Co., Ltd. The film is produced by Mary Parent, Alex Garcia, Eric Mcleod, Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni and Brian Rogers. The executive producers are Wingard, Jen Conroy, Jay Ashenfelter, Yoshimitsu Banno, Kenji Okuhira.

Warner Bros. will release Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire in theaters on March 29, 2024.