Dean Devlin is an American screenwriter, producer, director and former actor. He is perhaps most well-known as the frequent collaborator of director Roland Emmerich, producing and writing for his films Stargate and Independence Day, among many others. Devlin co-wrote and produced the 1998 film, Godzilla for TriStar Pictures.
In 1993, TriStar Pictures approached director Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin with Ted Eliott and Terry Rossio's script for an American Godzilla film, offering Emmerich the position of director. While Devlin, who claimed to have grown up a Godzilla fan, was initially in favor of taking on the project, Emmerich gradually convinced him otherwise, stating that he felt there was no way to make the project serious like the studio wanted, believing Godzilla films were inherently cheesy B-movies.
The duo passed up on the film and continued to work on other projects, including the blockbuster hit Independence Day. TriStar continued to offer Godzilla to Devlin and Emmerich, but they continued to pass on it, while Jan De Bont eventually signed on to direct.
Following Independence Day, Emmerich and Devlin planned to produce a film called Ground Zero, revolving around a meteor striking the Earth, but were forced to shelve it after learning of two upcoming films, Deep Impact and Armageddon, with a similar premise. According to Devlin, Emmerich gradually began to be interested in a Godzilla project following the abandonment of Ground Zero, and the two of them decided to accept the project when TriStar next offered it to them after Jan De Bont dropped out of Godzilla.
Emmerich and Devlin agreed to take on the project and keep it under TriStar's budget restrictions, on the condition they could bring in their production company Centropolis Entertainment to work on the film and that they be allowed to handle the film in their own way. Sony and TriStar agreed, and Devlin and Emmerich officially took up directing, writing and producing duties on Godzilla in 1996. The two were complementary of Eliott and Rossio' script, claiming it was what convinced them the film could be made, but insisted they were completely discarding it in favor of their own vision.
The two intended to re-imagine Godzilla as a lean, swift and animalistic predator, and brought in designer Patrick Tatopoulos to redesign the character. Devlin co-wrote the script along with Emmerich, and was the film's lead producer.
Emmerich and Devlin's Godzilla was officially released on May 19, 1998, to coincide with the Memorial Day holiday. The film, which was heavily marketed and promoted around the world, proved to be a financial success, but drew almost worldwide backlash from critics as well as from fans of Godzilla, who criticized the titular monster for its lack of similarities to the character of Godzilla.
Despite the film's poor critical reception and backlash from fans, TriStar moved ahead with a sequel, with Devlin and Emmerich staying on to direct and produce, while Tab Murphy was brought on to write the script. Though Murphy's script was completed, TriStar was hesitant to allot a large budget to Devlin and Emmerich, whose final budget for Godzilla exceeded the disputed sum which forced Jan De Bont to leave the project, since the studio believed a sequel would be less profitable due to a lack of retailer interest and enthusiasm from audiences. Emmerich and Devlin left the project in 1999 and went on to produce The Patriot. Emmerich and Devlin still served as executive producers on the 1998 film's animated spin-off, Godzilla: The Series.
Emmerich and Devlin parted ways after The Patriot was released, while Sony and TriStar's rights to the Godzilla franchise expired in 2003. While Emmerich would continue to defend Godzilla in the following years, Devlin actually apologized for the film, claiming that some of the decisions he and Emmerich made severely hurt the film. Devlin cited the fact that he and Emmerich did not commit to anthropomorphizing Godzilla, instead making the creature a simple animal trying to survive, as a "big mistake."
Devlin also acknowledged that some of the fan backlash toward his and Emmerich's version of Godzilla was warranted and that some was an overreaction, but he still understood why he received it. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Devlin stated "I know I screwed up my Godzilla" and expressed his wish that he had a second chance, claiming he grew up loving Godzilla and worked hard to make his own film but, in his own words, "kind of blew it." He expressed his support and good will for Legendary Pictures' then-upcoming Godzilla, stating his desire for the studio to produce a great film and revitalize the Godzilla franchise for a new generation.
- Dr. Deverich, the human villain in the IDW Publishing comic series Godzilla: The Half-Century War, is likely named from a combination of Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich's last names.