Thursday, June 3, 2010

Godzilla Week: 10 Years Ago Next Month

Photo courtesy of the office of Sup. Michael D. Antonovich, L.A. County Board of Supervisors.

Godzilla Week: 10 Years Ago Next Month

by Armand Vaquer

Next month will mark ten years (!) since a piece of Godzilla history took place in Los Angeles, California.

In July 2000, G-FEST 2000 took place at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel with movie screenings taking place at the Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Blvd. This convention had the largest guest line-up ever in G-FEST's history.

But days before G-FEST 2000, an event to celebrate the convention as well as the first wide release of a Godzilla movie in fifteen years to U.S. theaters, Godzilla 2000, took place at the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting on July 11. It was at that meeting that the Board declared July 10 - 16, 2000 as "Godzilla Week." The declaration was sponsored by L.A. County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich.

That year was the first year I handled publicity duties for G-FEST. The idea for "Godzilla Week" was to garner publicity for the convention as well as for Godzilla 2000, released by Sony/TriStar in August 2000.

Unfortunately, all did not go 100% smoothly for the "Godzilla Week" ceremony. At that time, Masaharu Ina was the general manager of Toho Co., Ltd.'s Los Angeles office in Century City. I had developed a good working relationship with him and when I proposed the ceremony with him, he was enthusiastic. He was instrumental in getting the Toho executives' cooperation in shipping a Godzilla 2000 event suit to Los Angeles for the ceremony. This would have been a great publicity event. G-FAN publisher J. D. Lees flew to L.A. several days early to participate in the ceremony.

However, the fly in the ointment was a lady at Sony/TriStar named Jaime Geller, who decided to take over the planning of this event. Since Sony/TriStar had the theatrical rights to Godzilla 2000, any publicity involving it had to be under their purview, or so she said. I tried to work with her on this, and it seemed that things were going good.

About a week or so before the scheduled event, a meeting was to take place at L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich's office with Geller, Mr. Ina and Antonovich's staff to plan how the appearance of Godzilla at the meeting would happen. Mr. Ina and I arrived at the same time and Mr. Ina had a somber look on his face. He said that when the crate containing the Godzilla event suit was opened at Sony, they looked at it and decided that it detracted "from the grandeur of Godzilla" and nixed the suit's appearance. Although shocked, we decided to go ahead with the ceremony anyway, with "rumble and roar" Godzilla toys representing The King. Each county supervisor received one from Toho.

While the ceremony went fine, the cancellation of the Godzilla event suit killed our chances for media coverage. When word reached fandom about Sony killing the appearance of the event suit, the "fit hit the shan." Many even called Sony's offices to raise hell with them. The fans were steamed (to put it mildly)!

Along with Ina and Lees, others participating in the ceremony were Toho Sales Manager Tetsushi Sudo, Richard Pusateri, Mrs. Mike Antonovich and their son, and me. Many fans showed up to attend the ceremony. A scroll was presented to Mr. Ina.

Above, the G-FAN article on the ceremony along with a photograph of the scroll.

After the ceremony, several of us gathered in Little Tokyo for Japanese lunch at Weller Court.

It is hard to believe that this event took place ten years ago next month. We had to wait four years later to see an authentic Toho Godzilla event suit at a ceremony.

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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.