Thanks to today’s exclusive from Variety, we now know who’s currently working on Legendary’s next Godzilla movie. Filmmakers Michael Dougherty and Zach Shields have teamed up with Legendary again after making Krampus. Although you might not recognize their names, I think Dougherty and Shields are a good fit. They’ll be taking over for Max Borenstein, the writer of 2014’s Godzilla. What we don’t know is whether they’re rewriting his script or starting over.
Dougherty is one of Bryan Singer’s frequent collaborators. He worked on X2, Superman Returns, and X-Men: Apocalypse. Those aren’t exactly masterpieces, but Dougherty is especially good at making monsters. He wrote and directed the cult phenomenon Trick ‘r Treat. If you have not seen it, now is the right time. It’s a Halloween mainstay for many horror fans (myself included).
Dougherty and Shields’s and Krampus was a spirited, pine-scented riff on spooky German Christmas traditions. It performed modestly at the box office, but it apparently made them some friends at Legendary. Godzilla 2 is still without a director after Gareth Edwards left the project. I suspect, at this stage, that Legendary will announce the film’s director in a few months after Dougherty and Shields can give the execs at Legendary something they’re happy with.
But right now, these guys have a tough job. 2014’s Godzilla got a decent reception from critics. But the weird divide between the film’s marketing and the film’s actual structure put a lot of viewers off. The Big Guy himself didn’t spend a whole lot of time on screen. And neither did Bryan Cranston, who many of us expected to be the film’s lead. Hence, the lukewarm reception from fans. But any misleading marketing aside — Gareth Edwards directed the hell out of Godzilla. It builds upon the style Spielberg employed in Jurassic Park. It’s remarkably suspenseful for how big it gets.
And let’s not forget that Legendary has expanded this new franchise to include Kong: Skull Island. Based on Kong‘s recent trailer, it appears to have that correct balance between scale and scares. So now that they have the job, let’s hope Dougherty and Shields can deliver the Godzilla goods in a similar vein.
Legendary will release Godzilla 2 on March 22, 2019. Godzilla vs. Kong will arrive on May 29, 2020.
UPDATE, Oct. 21:
Screencrush has an exclusive scoop! They claim to know that Michael Dougherty will also direct Godzilla 2. Neither Legendary nor Dougherty have confirmed this. But if Screencrush’s sources are trustworthy, then it’s cause for celebration. Dougherty is a very different filmmaker than Gareth Edwards, so this may signal a shift in tone from Edwards’ vision. Maybe Godzilla 2 will dare to have a little fun.
UPDATE, Jan. 23:
It’s official! Michael Dougherty has been announced as the director of Godzilla 2. Dougherty knows how to do scale on a budget so this is going to probably be a good way for the studio to save some money on this one. Plus, this entry will be a big setup for the eventual MonsterVerse that Universal wants to make with King Kong and other kaiju monsters.