After the release of 2004's Godzilla: Final Wars, marking the 50th anniversary of the Godzilla film franchise, Toho announced that it would not produce any films featuring the Godzilla character for ten years. Toho demolished the water stage on its lot used in numerous Godzilla films to stage water scenes. Director Yoshimitsu Banno, who had directed 1971's Godzilla vs. Hedorah, secured the rights from Toho to make an IMAX 3D short film production, tentatively titled Godzilla 3D to the Max, based on a remake of the Godzilla vs. Hedorah story. Banno and producer Kenji Okuhira then added American 3D cinematographer and visual effects supervisor Peter Anderson to the project. Anderson brought on producer Brian Rogers and the project was then re-negotiated with Toho as a full length 3D feature film. Also through Anderson, Kerner Optical came on board to produce the 3D film. However, Banno was unable to find backers to produce the film. In 2007, Banno met American producer Brian Rogers, and the two planned to work together on the project. Rogers approached Legendary Pictures in 2009, and the project became a plan to produce a feature film instead.
In August 2009, rumors surfaced that Legendary was in talks with Toho to produce a new American Godzilla film to be released in 2012, and on March 29, 2010, it was officially confirmed that Legendary had acquired the rights to Godzilla. Legendary announced it would reboot the franchise with Warner Bros. co-producing and co-financing. TriStar Pictures will not be involved in the production due to their rights expiring in 2003. Legendary plans to make the new film closer in style to the original 1954 film rather than the 1998 film and its "iguana-like creature". According to Thomas Tull, chairman and CEO of Legendary Pictures, (sic) "Our plans are to produce the Godzilla that we, as fans, would want to see. We intend to do justice to those essential elements that have allowed this character to remain as pop culturally relevant for as long as it has." Film producers Dan Lin, Roy Lee, Doug Davison and Legendary's Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni were added to the project to work with Rogers, Banno and Okuhira.
At the 3D Summit conference held in September 2010 at Universal Studios, producer Brian Rogers confirmed a planned date of 2012. The reboot will be a live-action project featuring a fully computer-generated Godzilla. Godzilla will fight at least one or two monsters, rather than simply the military as seen in Emmerich's 1998 remake. Rogers also confirmed that the two Godzilla head designs that were floating around the Internet and rumored to have been designed by Legendary and sent to Toho for approval were fake, and were just simply fan made. He also went on to say that he and Legendary Pictures wished to revive Godzilla in the same fashion Legendary revived Batman.
In October 2010, David Callaham (script writer of The Expendables) was named to write the first draft of the script. In the same month it was also rumoured that Guillermo del Toro (Blade II, Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth) was approached to direct the movie, which del Toro later denied. British filmmaker Gareth Edwards, director of the 2010 film Monsters was attached to direct the film in January 2011. Edwards stated then that he was concentrating on a few ideas, including working on a script with Timur Bekmambetov (Apollo 18, Night Watch, Wanted, and 9). In an interview publicizing the DVD release of his film Monsters, Edwards stated (sic) "this will definitely have a very different feel than the most recent US film, and our biggest concern is making sure we get it right for the fans because we know their concerns. It must be brilliant in every category because I'm a fan as well." "Without addressing anything specific, everyone knows how important is to get it right."
After Callaham, four more persons worked on the screenplay during the film's development. When Edwards' signing was announced, it was also announced that Callaham's first draft would be rewritten by another writer. In July 2011, David S. Goyer was attached to do the rewrite of the film's screenplay. Goyer only worked a few weeks on the script and did not get a screenwriter credit. In November 2011, Max Borenstein was hired to continue work on the script. In October 2012, Legendary announced that writer Drew Pearce would polish the final script, making the principal characters older to suit the actors that Legendary intends to cast. In January 2013, Frank Darabont (writer-director of The Shawshank Redemption and The Walking Dead), was added to work on the film script.
The film remained in development into 2012, missing the planned release date. Edwards worked on his vision for the film at a stage at the Warner Brothers lot. The production team developed Godzilla models, artwork and pre-visualizations of the action scenes of the movie. From the lot, Edward directed a short teaser video, shown to Legendary executives and later shown at the San Diego Comic-con in July 2012. Two images from the video were eventually released to the internet.