Rumours of a new Godzilla film have been flying for some time now — not a Japanese film (which would be excellent enough), but another US stab at the Big G, giving the world’s most iconic giant monster a chance to shine with a Very Big Budget. Well, today’s news is that it has been confirmed. Variety and the Hollywood Reporter have both reported that Legendary Pictures, who have already embraced giant monsters in a significant way with their big-budget remake of Ray Harryhausen’s original Clash of the Titans, will produce the next appearance of Toho’s greatest kaiju creation.
Without slagging off at the previous American attempt to “re-envision” the King of the Monsters — Roland Emmerich’s 1998 Godzilla, which, while a decent enough giant monster pic, wasn’t Godzilla in any recognisable sense beyond size — one hopes that this time the job will be given to someone with a genuine understanding of what makes Godzilla tick and led to the huge success of the first Gojira (1954) and to a history of 28 films of varying quality, right up to Ryuhei Kitamura’s fun but generally disappointing Godzilla: Final Wars in 2004 — an expensive exercise in icon worship that pretty well drove the franchise into an extended hiatus.
The report on Legendary Pictures’ latest stab at the franchise says that it will not be a sequel to Emmerich’s film, but will be a “re-imagining” of the original Japanese Godzilla films. A director has not yet been announced, but they’re looking at a release date of 2012 (in time for the end of the world). Legendary will be in partnership with Warner Bros to finance and produce the new film, with Toho on board to distribute it in Japan — where I suspect it will be greeted with cautious enthusiasm. Much will depend on who takes the reins and how they go about the re-imagining.
Thomas Hull of Legendary Pictures says of their intentions:
“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.” (Variety)
As reproduced on SciFi Japan, the press release quotes Hideyuki Takai, President of Toho Co., Ltd. as saying:
“Godzilla is a signature Japanese character which we have nurtured over the years. It is a great honor to reach an agreement with Legendary Pictures, the parent to many a blockbuster film, and we are delighted in rebooting the character together to realize its much anticipated return by fans from all over the world. … We are anxious to find out where Godzilla’s new stomping will take us.”
Tentatively, this all seems to offer great potential indeed for kaiju fans and has a chance of resulting in the big-budget epic that we’ve always hoped for.
An interesting sidelight is that among the executive producers listed in the press release is Yoshimitsu Banno and Kenji Okuhira. Banno was the man behind the notorious 1971 Godzilla film Godzilla vs Hedorah, better known in the States as Godzilla vs the Smog Monster. He has for some years been working (with Okuhira) to develop a 3D IMax sequel featuring Godzilla and the Smog Monster, though reports are that financing it has been a problem. Does his involvement in this latest project hold any significance for the direction in which the new film will go, I wonder? Climate change certainly offers a viable metaphor for the film to explore.
For more on the background of the last American attempt to re-make Godzilla, check out artist Todd Tennant’s graphic novelisation of the abandoned script that Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio wrote for director Jan De Bont, who had initially been slated to handle the project (in 1994) before it was taken from him and later given to Roland Emmerich. It looks and feels like a “real” Godzilla story and is just want we need for this new one. Below is Todd’s latest images for his American Godzilla ’94 graphic novel — Godzilla attacking LA. Click on them to enlarge.