1 of 5 | "Monarch: Legacy of Monsters" premieres Friday. Photo courtesy of Apple TV+
NEW YORK, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- Showrunner Chris Black says Monarch: Legacy of Monsters needs more than terrifying giant beasts to sustain a 10-hour television series. It also must have a compelling story and characters about whom viewers care.
The show spans three generations and more than half a century and stars Kurt Russell, Wyatt Russell, Anna Sawai, Kiersey Clemons, Ren Watabe, Mari Yamamoto, Anders Holm, Joe Tippett and Elisa Lasowski. It premieres Friday on Apple TV+.
At the heart of the adventure are siblings following in their father's footsteps in an attempt to uncover their family's connection to the secret organization known as Monarch in a world that lives in fear of havoc-wreaking creatures like Godzilla, King Kong and the other Titans.
"Those movies are so vast, and the expense is more than we could sustain," he said. "We needed to do something that you want to come back to again and again -- create an ensemble of characters and an unfolding mystery and a family that we wanted you to follow."
That's not to say there won't be any monster action, Black said.
"As much as we love Godzilla and want to see Godzilla and there is more Godzilla coming, you couldn't just have Godzilla fighting and stomping through city week after week," Black said.
Executive producer Tory Tunnell said that in addition to the family and monster angles, the show will look at the men and women who work at the shadowy titular agency.
"We're diving into how the organization was birthed," Tunnell said.
"Our timeline dances between the raindrops of the other movies and allows us to do a deep dive on characters who are consistent with the Monsterverse you know and love."
While the show's mythology corresponds with Legendary's recent Godzilla and King Kong blockbuster movies, its scaled-down, slower-burn approach is more appropriate for at-home viewing.
"Movies are spectacles. We buy tickets for them. We go out to see them with a lot of people. TV is something you invite into your home," Black's fellow showrunner Matt Fraction said.
"You have to have characters and a world you want to visit every week," he added. "That's the thing about the movies -- you always want to spend more time in that world where Godzilla is a thing you have to worry about every day. This is a chance to really build out the world for the Monsterverse and live in it the way the movies kind of can't."
Sean Konrad, the visual effects supervisor, said he and the filmmakers worked hard to make sure the series had an epic look.
"We have great movies as reference to draw from for how we do things like make our creatures feel huge and really in the environment," Konrad said.
"We want our characters to feel in the action," he added. "The creatures were a real challenge in figuring out how we could make them feel like they were in the universe with our actors and have the action feel like they have stakes and consequences."
The filmmakers first approached the Russells about playing the same character at different ages after hearing they were looking for something to work on together.
Black and Fraction met with the father and son at the restaurant, where the family was gathering for a birthday party.
They said they tried to let the actors go when Wyatt's mother, Goldie Hawn, and sister, Kate Hudson, as well as other famous guests, started to arrive, but the Russells insisted on continuing the meeting.
"[Kurt Russell] said: 'It's fine, it's fine. They're used to it,'" Fraction recalled. "It's a family of actors and performers."