Sunday, November 4, 2012

Godzilla Turns 58

by Armand Vaquer

Above, the King of the Monsters stands guard at the main gate of Toho Studios.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
In movie history...

On November 3, 1954, Godzilla was unleashed in theaters throughout Japan, thus inaugurating a whole new genre of science-fiction movies: daikaiju eiga.

The genre has had its ups and downs over the span of 58 years.  It has seen good movies and bad movies.  But it has managed to weather them all.  Hollywood is currently in the process of producing a new Godzilla movie under the wings of Legendary Pictures and Warner Brothers.  Hopefully, it will be true to the spirit of the Japanese version and not the abomination that was released in 1998 by Sony/Tri-Star.

Above, the Godzilla statue in Hibiya, Tokyo.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
Toho Co., Ltd., citing dwindling box-office returns for its third series of Godzilla movies, had decided to stop producing them eight years ago.  There are no plans to resurrect their most famous character.  If the new U.S. version is a hit, they may change their minds...eventually.

Above, Godzilla approaches the Kachidoki Bridge in 1954.  Photo: Toho Co., Ltd.
The original Godzilla suit-actor, Haruo Nakajima, age 83, will be appearing at the Mad Monster Party convention in Charlotte, North Carolina this coming March 22-24.

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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.