Godzilla vs. Kong: What is Apex Cybernetics and is it really in Pensacola?

The first shot of Apex Cybernetics in Godzilla vs. Kong
(Image credit: Legendary Pictures)

Pensacola, Fla., has a long history of exceptionalism, weirdness, and well as links to movies. Much of it good — sports heroes like the NFL's Emmitt Smith and Derrick Brooks, boxer Roy Jones Jr., sprinter Justin Gatlin, golfers Bubba Watson and Jerry Pate, and Major League Baseball's (late) Don Sutton, to name just a scant few. Much of it tragic — abortion clinic murders, hurricanes, the December 2019 attack at Pensacola NAS. And plenty of references in film and entertainment. In Contact with Jodie Foster. In The Devil's Advocate, as Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves watch Roy Jones Jr. fight in New York City. (Jones later had bits in the first two Matrix sequels alongside Reeves.)

We're also famous for UFO sightings and bizarre politics. Not to mention the occasional national political scandal.

And now we're front and center in Godzilla vs. Kong.

But as always happens when you get major mentions of real places in a film, you have to wonder just how much is real. Fortunately, we've got a Pensacola native on staff here.

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Is Apex Cybernetics in Pensacola a real place?

No real GvK spoilers here, but in the first few minutes of the film Godzilla makes his return to the United States and attacks Apex Cybernetics, which has its advanced robotics lab in Pensacola. The attack was unprovoked — or so we're led to believe at first — and we get another good shot of a Monarch relief camp after the attack. That's where we meet up with Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler) and Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown) once more.  

The idea of an advanced research facility in Pensacola isn't actually all that far-fetched. We're home to the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition. (Which, among all kinds of other awesome things, works with those Atlas robots.) Pensacola is just minutes from the major Pensacola Naval Air Station and all sorts of outlying fields, and an hour or so away from Eglin Air Force Base, which is home to all sorts of special forces. It's not uncommon to see boutique high-tech firms here and there. 

But, alas, Apex Cybernetics isn't one of them. It's made up for the movie, obviously. And the Pensacola facility isn't the only one that appears in the movie. Apex Cybernetics is plays a pretty big role after those opening scenes. (You'll just have to actually watch the movie to find out how.) But just because it has a big role doesn't mean it's any more real.

Same goes for the beachscape as we fly over the relief camp. That's simply not what the high-rises on Pensacola Beach look like. (The movie appears to crib more from Miami or Tampa when it comes to that part of things.) And if anything, the sand on Pensacola Beach looks far better than what you see in the movie. (Yes, we're snobbish about our sand.)

Meanwhile, the good people of Pensacola have definitely noticed this most recent shout-out. (As we do all mentions of our fair town that don't involve political scandal or some other sort of tragedy.)

Godzilla vs. Kong was released in theaters worldwide and made its debut on HBO Max on March 31. 

HBO Max is available for $14.99 a month and can be found on all major streaming platforms, including Roku and Amazon Fire TV.

Phil Nickinson

Phil spent his 20s in the newsroom of the Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal, his 30s on the road for AndroidCentral.com and Mobile Nations and is the Dad part of Modern Dad.