Monday, December 27, 2010

Wako Dept. Store Spotlight

Above, the Wako Dept. Store in November 2001. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

by Armand Vaquer

The Wako Department Store building in the Ginza district of Tokyo is one of the most iconic locations used in Godzilla movies.

It first appeared in Godzilla (1954) when Godzilla (above), during his nighttime rampage through Tokyo, is angered by the gonging clock on top of the building. Godzilla then proceeds to demolish the clock along with the rest of the building.

Later, the Wako Dept. Store building appears in the U.S. version of King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) via inserted stock footage.

Once again, the building appears in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995) during the exploding Godzilla scenario sequence.

Above, the Wako Dept. Store in December 2010. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

According to Wikipedia:

From 1894 to 1921, the Hattori Clock Tower stood on the site that Wako occupies today. In 1921, the Hattori Clock Tower was demolished to rebuild a new one. The reconstruction was delayed due to the Great Kanto Earthquake of September 1, 1923. The new tower was completed in 1932 as the K. Hattori Building. In homage to its predecessor, the new store was also fitted with a clock.

Its 1932 Neo-Renaissance style building, designed by Jin Watanabe, with its curved granite fa├žade, is the central landmark for the district and one of the few buildings in the area left standing after World War II. The building functioned as the Tokyo PX store during the Allied Occupation of Japan from 1945 to 1952. The clock tower plays the famous Westminster Chimes.

Above, the Wako Dept. Store clock in December 2010. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

There are photographs of the Wako Dept. Store standing almost untouched while the rest of Ginza is in rubble due to Allied bombing raids. It is not too difficult to locate them on the Internet.

During my recent trip to Japan, the building was adorned in Christmas lighting (above).

The Wako Dept. Store is one of the must-see locations for G-fans visiting Japan. The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan covers the Wako Dept. Store building.

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Burbank, CA – March 29, 2010 – Legendary Pictures announced today that they will develop and produce a new film based on Toho Company’s famed GODZILLA character. Through the terms of the agreement, Legendary Pictures has acquired the rights to produce a movie inspired by Toho’s Godzilla, a franchise the Japanese company created and has nurtured for over fifty years.

Toho’s GODZILLA franchise boasts one of the most widely recognized film creatures worldwide, resulting in a series of books, television programs, video games and more than 25 films worldwide. Legendary intends to approach the film and its characters in the most authentic manner possible. The company will, in the near future, announce a filmmaker to helm the film for an intended 2012 release. The film will fall under the company’s co-production and co-financing deal with Warner Bros. Toho will distribute the film in Japan."

"Godzilla" is coming back -- this time, with Legendary Pictures taking the lead, co-producing and co-financing with Warner Bros. for release in 2012.

Legendary announced Monday it had obtained rights to the iconic monster character from Japan's Toho Co., which has overseen more than 25 "Godzilla" films. Toho will release the pic in Japan.

Legendary said it's planning to announce a director shortly.

In addition to Legendary, producers on the new film will be Dan Lin, Roy Lee and Brian Rogers. Yoshimitsu Banno, Kenji Okuhira and Doug Davison will exec produce.

"Godzilla is one of the world's most powerful pop culture icons, and we at Legendary are thrilled to be able to create a modern epic based on this long-loved Toho franchise," said Thomas Tull, Chairman and CEO of Legendary. "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."

Legendary noted the film will fall under its co-production and co-financing deal with Warner Bros. Legendary's productions with Warners have included "The Dark Knight," "300" and "The Hangover."

Speculation about a new "Godzilla" has been active since last summer. The Bloody Disgusting web site reported in August that the project was in development.