MonsterVerse writer Max Borenstein shares his thoughts on why Legendary’s monster movie franchise is successful since launching in 2014.
MonsterVerse writer Max Borenstein shares his thoughts on why Legendary Pictures’ monster movie franchise is successful since launching in 2014. The first film in the series came in the form of the American reboot of Godzilla, which saw a polarized reception from audiences but generally positive reviews from critics and became a box office hit, grossing over $529 million against a $160 million budget. Legendary would forge on ahead with their franchise plans after this success beginning with Kong: Skull Island in 2017 followed by 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters and the recently released hit Godzilla vs. Kong.
Borenstein has been attached to the MonsterVerse writers room since Godzilla, on which he was the sole screenwriter based on a story from Dave Callaham, and served as a co-writer on Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla vs. Kong and a story co-writer for Godzilla: King of the Monsters. The franchise’s most recent effort became a record-breaking hit upon releasing amidst the pandemic, grossing over $467.8 million at the box office against a break-even point of $330 million and initially setting the record for the most successful HBO Max launch title until later being overtaken by Mortal Kombat. Borenstein recently teased that Legendary is currently plotting out more MonsterVerse films, though the studio is remaining mum on said plans for the time being.
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While chatting with Looper to discuss his recently released 9/11 biographical drama Worth, Borenstein reflected on his time with the MonsterVerse. In looking at the franchise’s ongoing success, the writer expresses his belief that the shift int tones between each film is the key to this success and explained how it helped his writing over the years. See what Borenstein said below:
“I think we approached each of those films in a way a little bit equally where I worked closely with each director. But each of the films kind of represents kind of a different tonal interpretation of that material. Godzilla is a lot more grounded, partly because I did it closer to that moment and it’s something that’s kind of dark and has this sort of grounded quality where it feels like, ‘What if it’s really happened?’ And then I think each of the subsequent movies has its own sort of tonal spin. It’s been fun to use that franchise as an opportunity to explore different interpretations, and different, fun ways of using that material to sort of comment on things and give your cultural spin on a war movie or different kinds of stories.”
Much like each film’s overall critical reception, the discussion around the MonsterVerse‘s social commentary has been a very back-and-forth rollercoaster of praise and criticism. After Roland Emmerich’s disastrous Godzilla in 1998, the 2014 reboot was generally seen as an improvement and a return to the spirit of the source franchise in its critiques on the nuclear issue, though at the same time this was seen by some as a surface level exploration of the topic and a distortion of history by the American filmmakers. Kong: Skull Island, however, has seen primarily better reception from critics and audiences alike and more positivity towards its anti-war themes in comparison to 2014’s Godzilla.
Though the latter two installments of the MonsterVerse may have kept the criticism consistent in regards to its underdeveloped human characters, there’s no denying they have continued to draw audiences in. Save for Netflix’s Skull Island anime series, the lack of any official plans announced by Legendary could see the studio take the extra time to ensure they learn their lessons from the films thus. In the meantime, audiences can revisit the latest installment, Godzilla vs. Kong, on HBO Max now.
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MonsterVerse Writer Explains Why Movies Have Been So Successful