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Godzilla vs. Kong, the fourth film in Legendary Entertainment's "MonsterVerse", starring Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, and Rebecca Hall, and of course the legendary monsters Godzilla and King Kong, was released in North American theatres through Warner Bros. Pictures on Wednesday, March 31, 2021.
Although Warner Bros. initially indicated that the film would only be available in theatres in Canada – despite continued widespread cinema closures in most of the country – by March 25, WB had announced it had changed course and would release Godzilla vs. Kong in Canada both in theatres (where open) and as a premium video-on-demand (PVOD) digital rental (a.k.a. "rent it at home") on March 31, for a suggested retail price of $24.99 for a 48-hour rental.
According to this Warner Bros. webpage, Godzilla vs. Kong is now available to rent through the following retailers / providers:
- Amazon Prime Video Store
- Apple TV / iTunes Store
- Cineplex Store
- Google Play Movies & TV
- Microsoft Movies & TV
- YouTube Movies
Additionally, the film should be available through TV service provider video-on-demand services (on your set-top box), via providers including Bell, Rogers, Cogeco, SaskTel, Shaw, Telus, and Vidéotron.
For those who may not have encountered it before, PVOD, also known by names like "premium rental", "Home Premiere", or (in the case of Disney) "Premier Access", is a relatively new development that allows consumers to watch new-release movies from home at the same time as they're released in theatres, at least while most Canadian cinemas are closed due to the pandemic. Because it's only possible to charge per household, not per viewer / seat, the rental prices are set quite high to start (comparable to two adult movie tickets). In most cases, they've come down to "regular" VOD prices within a few months.
As we explain a bit further below, there is no simultaneous access to Godzilla vs. Kong in Canada as part of a streaming service subscription, like there is on HBO Max in the United States. That said, it should be available to stream on Crave in several months, most likely either in late 2021 or early 2022.
Why was there confusion about whether "Godzilla vs. Kong" would be available to rent digitally in Canada?
Throughout late 2020 and early 2021, Canada has continued to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, going through an extended period of provincially- or municipally-imposed movie theatre closures across much of the country.
In light of this, Warner Bros. decided to allow other films that are part of the company's hybrid U.S. release model with HBO Max – like Wonder Woman 1984, Judas and the Black Messiah, and Tom & Jerry – to be offered in Canada both in theatres (where open), and as premium video-on-demand (PVOD) digital rentals. This allowed potential viewers in major cities like Toronto and Vancouver the option to watch these movies despite the closures of cinemas in those markets.
However, as of two weeks before the movie's release, Warner Bros. had apparently decided to make Godzilla vs. Kong a theatrical-only release in Canada, as first reported by The Globe and Mail's Barry Hertz, and confirmed by WB advertising that started airing on Canadian TV channels around the same time indicating the film will be "only in theatres".
So why did Warner Bros. attempt to keep Godzilla vs. Kong in Canadian theatres only, when other films like WW84 had had a PVOD release?
Unlike the other films noted above, GvK was mostly financed (paid for) by Legendary, with Warner Bros. mainly serving as a distribution partner. According to numerous reports, Legendary was not happy with WB's surprise announcement of its hybrid release strategy, and considered legal action to block the simultaneous streaming release, though all indications are that the dispute was later settled.
In a previous version of this post, we speculated that, based on all that, Legendary might have insisted on extra restrictions as part of the settlement, which might have affected WB's ability to consider streaming or PVOD releases in other countries like Canada.
However, in the press release announcing its change of plans, Warner suggests that both the original decision and the change were its decision alone:
While the studio remains committed to providing moviegoers with a theatrical experience wherever possible, with fewer markets reopening than previously planned, the decision was made to allow Canadian audiences to enjoy the epic action adventure film on the big screen and in the comfort of their own home through Premium Video on Demand (PVOD).
Why isn't "Godzilla vs. Kong" available in Canada through HBO Max or Crave?
As noted above, in the United States (and only in the U.S.), Warner Bros. will be releasing its 2021 theatrical-release films both in theatres, and on streaming via HBO Max for 31 days after its debut in cinemas.
However, HBO Max is not available through authorized means in Canada, and won't be for several years, if ever. And, as we discussed at length in our December 2020 post about Wonder Woman 1984, no similar offering as part of a subscription streaming service has been made in any other country – including HBO's long-term Canadian partner Crave, or for that matter HBO services operated by WarnerMedia in other markets like Latin America, Europe, or Asia. (Note that this only applies to theatrical releases, as opposed to direct-to-streaming releases like the recent Zack Snyder's Justice League, which was released simultaneously on both HBO Max and Crave.)
That said, like other films distributed by Warner Bros., Godzilla vs. Kong should be available through Crave (with Movies + HBO) in the first pay/streaming window, which will begin several months after theatrical release. Traditionally this streaming release comes about 8-10 months after first arriving in theatres, which would suggest Godzilla vs. Kong should become available on Crave at the end of 2021 or early 2022, and then remain available there for a bit longer than a year. Then, assuming there are no changes to contracts currently in place, it will likely become available on Netflix in Canada at some point in early 2023. (For more on how this process, sometimes called "windowing", works, refer to our October 2020 post about The Witches.)
- March 31, 2021 – Updated with direct links to available digital retailers.
- March 28, 2021 – Full rewrite to reflect the changed plans.
- Maarch 25, 2021 – Initial update to reflect Warner Bros.' change of plans to include PVOD, and not theatrical-only.