New book gives behind-the-scenes look at making of 'King Kong vs. Godzilla'
When it comes to rooting for King Kong or Godzilla, author Daniel Wallace is torn.
“They’re the most famous giant monsters in movie history. Who can choose?” said Wallace, who became a fan of both when watching 1962’s “King Kong vs. Godzilla” as a kid.
Wallace’s latest book is “Godzilla vs. Kong: One Will Fall: The Art of the Ultimate Battle Royale” (Insight Editions, $45), giving readers a behind-the-scenes look at the making of “Godzilla vs. Kong,” released Wednesday in theaters and on HBO Max.
“I'm a lifelong fan of both of these famous movie monsters and have been trying to work on them for a long time,” said Wallace. “On ‘Godzilla vs. Kong,’ the pieces must have finally fallen into place, so when the opportunity came up, I immediately jumped on it.”
An Iowa City native, Wallace is a graduate of Forest Hills Central High School in Grand Rapids and Michigan State University. At MSU, Wallace earned his bachelor’s degree in advertising and marketing. He also completed some graduate work at Wayne State University.
Wallace has written about 50 behind-the-scenes sourcebooks, dossiers, encyclopedic books about many licensed properties/media franchises, including “Star Wars,” “Supernatural,” “Pacific Rim,” the Marvel Universe, the DC Universe and others.
“My first published work was an encyclopedic reference called ‘Star Wars: The Essential Guide to Planets and Moons,’ and I was able to land the assignment based on similar fan works that I had done and by passing Lucasfilm's audition process," he said. "That process has changed significantly since those early days, so I consider myself lucky to have had a more direct track back when the internet was still a niche thing.”
Wallace’s “Godzilla vs. Kong” book gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the movie in which he examined the lore, world-building and tidbits about the franchise.
“My specialty lies in taking the elements of a fictional universe and making them feel real, which is one of the ways in which fans get really invested in their (favorites),” he said.
The plot of “Godzilla vs. Kong” is self-explanatory: These two giant monsters meet and fight, leaving death and destruction in their wake with humanity caught in the middle. Directed by Adam Wingard (“Death Note”), it stars Alexander Skarsgård (“True Blood”), Millie Bobby Brown (“Stranger Things”), Rebecca Hall (“The Town”), Julian Dennison (“Deadpool 2”) and Kyle Chandler (“Friday Night Lights”). The fourth film in Legendary’s “MonsterVerse” franchise, it follows the events of 2019’s “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” and 2017’s “Kong: Skull Island.”
Wallace’s writing process varies between books.
“Sometimes, I've been on set; other times, I've been remotely plugged into the creative teams during the post-production process,” he explained. “‘Godzilla vs Kong’ was more like the latter, but I had full access to talk with pretty much anyone I wanted to interview. This included (Wingard), as well as key personnel in the fields of visual effects, concept design, art direction, location scouting, set construction, and more.”
“Godzilla vs. Kong” is the 36th movie featuring Godzilla, which debuted in 1954’s “Godzilla.” In turn, it’s the 12th movie featuring Kong, which debuted in 1933’s “King Kong.”
“Godzilla and Kong have an incredible legacy in film. Originally, you could look at them almost as monsters from the East and West – Godzilla storming Tokyo and Kong being brought by man to New York," said Wingard. "However you perceive them, they are movie icons that excite audiences all across the globe. I remember as a kid having arguments on the playground with my friends about who would win in a fight… In reality, directing this film started as the perfect excuse to go revisit all the ‘Godzilla’ and ‘Kong’ films in sequential order; that was the first thing I did when I began talking to Legendary about the possibility of (doing this movie). And that really became a huge influence in terms of my approach to this film in general.”
Wallace believes now is the perfect time for “Godzilla vs. Kong.”
“This is the kind of big-budget, high spectacle blockbuster that people haven't seen in a very long time with a premise that couldn't be easier to grasp,” he said. “You don't need to have seen every previous movie in the Legendary ‘MonsterVerse’ to appreciate a colossal gorilla trading punches with an atomic dinosaur!”
'Godzilla vs. Kong: One Will Fall: The Art of the Ultimate Battle Royale'
by Daniel Wallace
Insight Editions, $45