|“||Size does matter.||„|
— Film's tagline
Godzilla (ＧＯＤＺＩＬＬＡ?) is a Gojira1998 American science fiction monster film produced by TriStar Pictures. It is the 23rd Godzilla film in the series and the first American Godzilla film. The film was released to North American theaters on May 20, 1998 and to Japanese theaters on July 11, 1998.
Following a nuclear test in French Polynesia, a marine iguana nest is exposed to the fallout of radiation.
Thirty years later, a Japanese fishing vessel is suddenly attacked by an enormous sea creature in the South Pacific ocean, with only one seaman surviving. Traumatized, he is questioned by a mysterious Frenchman in a hospital regarding what he saw, to which he only replies "Gojira."
Dr. Niko Tatopoulos, an NRC scientist, is in the Chernobyl exclusion zone in Ukraine researching the effects of radiation on wildlife, but he is interrupted by the arrival of an official from the U.S. State Department. He is sent to Panama and Jamaica, escorted by the military, to observe a trail of wreckage across land leading to the recovered Japanese fishing ship with massive claw marks on it. In Jamaica, the Frenchman is also present, observing the scene, and introduces himself as Philippe Roaché, a so-called "insurance agent."
Aboard a military aircraft, Dr. Tatopoulos identifies skin samples he discovered in the shipwreck as belonging to an unknown species. He dismisses the military's theory that the creature is a living dinosaur, instead deducing that he is a mutant created by nuclear testing.
The large reptilian creature travels to New York City leaving a path of destruction wherever it goes. The monster is lured to Flatiron Square with 20,000 pounds of fish, when the military begins attacking it. The city is evacuated as the military attempts to kill the monster, but fails in an initial attempt. Tatopoulos later collects a blood sample and learns that the creature is pregnant; it reproduces asexually and is collecting food not just for itself, but also for its offspring.
Eventually, Dr. Tatopoulos meets up with his ex-girlfriend, Audrey Timmonds, a young news reporter who wants to find a story. While she visits him, she uncovers a classified tape in his provisional military tent which concerns the origins of the monster, and turns it over to the media. She hopes to have her report put on TV in hopes to become famous, but her superior and boss, Charles Caiman, declares the tape as his own discovery. The tape is broadcast on television by the media, who dubs the creature "Godzilla." Dr. Tatopoulos is thrown off the team for his inadvertent carelessness and says goodbye to Audrey. Tatopoulos is then kidnapped by Philippe Roaché, who reveals himself to be an agent of the DGSE, the French foreign intelligence agency. He and his colleagues have been keeping close watch on the events and are planning to cover up their country's role in the creation of Godzilla. Suspecting a nest somewhere in the city, they cooperate with Dr. Tatopoulos to trace and destroy him.
Following an encounter with the military near Central Park, Godzilla dives into the Hudson River to evade the military, where he is attacked by two Ohio Class Nuclear-Powered Subs and a Los Angeles-Class Nuclear Attack Submarine. After colliding with torpedoes, the subs fired at him, Godzilla sinks. Believing he is finally dead, the authorities celebrate.
Meanwhile, Dr. Tatopoulos and Roaché's team, covertly followed by Timmonds and her cameraman Victor "Animal" Palotti, make their way through underground subway tunnels to Madison Square Garden. There, they find over a hundred eggs. As they attempt to destroy them, the eggs suddenly hatch. Perceiving the human intruders as food due to the fact that they smell like fish, the hatchlings begin attacking. Dr. Tatopoulos, Palotti, Timmonds and Roaché take refuge in the stadium's broadcast booth and send a live news report to alert the military. A prompt response involving an airstrike is initiated as the four escape moments before the arena is bombed.
The adult Godzilla, however, is revealed to have survived the torpedo attack earlier underwater (it is implied that he merely faked his death), and emerges from the Garden's ruins. Discovering all of his young dead, he chases the group through the streets of Manhattan angrily. In pursuit, Godzilla eventually makes his way to the Brooklyn Bridge. Godzilla becomes trapped in the steel suspension cables, making him an easy target. After being directly hit by missiles from three F-18 Hornets, Godzilla falls to the ground and slowly dies. Roaché and the rest of the team part ways, and the people of New York celebrate.
Meanwhile, back in the smoking ruins of the Garden, a lone egg hatches.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Roland Emmerich
- Written by Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio
- Produced by Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich, Ute Emmerich, William Fay, Cary Woods, Robert Fried, Kelly Van Horn, Peter Winther
- Music by David Arnold, Michael Lloyd
- Cinematography by Ueli Steiger
- Edited by Peter Amundson, David Siegel
- Production Design by Oliver Scholl
- Special Effects by Patrick Tatopoulos
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Matthew Broderick as Doctor Niko Tatopoulos
- Jean Reno as Philippe Roaché
- Maria Pitillo as Audrey Timmonds
- Hank Azaria as Victor "Animal" Palotti
- Kevin Dunn as Colonel Hicks
- Harry Shearer as W.I.D.F. Anchor Charles Caiman
- Vicki Lewis as Doctor Elsie Chapman
- Michael Lerner as Mayor Ebert
- Lorry Goldman as Mayor's Aide Gene
- Arabella Field as Lucy Palotti
- Doug Savant as Sergeant O'Neal
- Malcolm Danare as Doctor Mendel Craven
- Christian Aubert as Jean-Luc
- Frank Bruynbroek as Jean-Pierre
- Philippe Bergeron as Jean-Claude
- Francois Giroday as Jean-Philippe
- Nicholas J. Giangiulio as W.I.D.F. Engineer Ed
- Robert Lesser as Murray
- Ralph Manza as Elderly Fisherman Joe
- Greg Callahan as Governor
- Chris Ellis as General Anderson
- Nancy Cartwright as Caiman's Secretary
- Richard Gant as Admiral Phelps
- Stephen Xavier Lee as Lieutenant Anderson
- Jack Moore as Leonard
- Brian Farabaugh as Arthur
- Steve Giannelli as Jules
- Kurt Carley as Godzilla (Suit)
- Frank Welker and Gary A. Hecker as Godzilla (Voice)
The idea for an American Godzilla project began in 1983 when Steve Miner proposed Godzilla: King of the Monsters 3-D to Toho. Not long after they greenlit it, however, Miner gave up on the project for several reasons, including no company wanting to back the project up. In 1992, Sony acquired the rights to Godzilla and its subsidiary TriStar Pictures was to begin production on a film written by Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio.
A teaser for this film was released in Japan in 1994. Jan De Bont was to direct the film, which was to have Godzilla fight a new monster called the Gryphon, but the project was sent to development hell after De Bont left due to budget disagreements with studio executives. TriStar then tried to get Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin to make the film, which they turned down several times. After the two read Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio's script, however, they realized that an American version of Godzilla could be done and accepted TriStar's requests, on the condition that they could discard the original script and handle the film however they wanted.
The marketing campaign for Godzilla was multi-pronged in its execution:
Crushed cars were dotted around London as a part of a guerrilla advertising campaign. In the month or so before its release, ads on street corners made references to "Godzilla"'s size in comparison to whatever medium of advertising the advertisement was on. Examples: "His foot is bigger than this bus," "His head is bigger than this billboard," etc. Bits and pieces of different body parts of Godzilla were shown on TV commercials and posters, but never the entire body; this was to add a bit of mystery as to the design of the creature, ideally prompting people to see the film because that was the only way to see the whole creature. However, the toy line was released before the film and spoiled everything.
Taco Bell had tie-ins such as cups and toys that promoted the film. The Taco Bell chihuahua was also at the height of its popularity in Taco Bell's television commercials. During the summer of 1998, several commercials pairing Godzilla with the Taco Bell mascot were produced and aired, including several with the chihuahua trying to catch Godzilla in a tiny box, whistling and calling, "Here, lizard, lizard, lizard." When Godzilla appears, the chihuahua says, "Uh-oh. I think I need a bigger box."
- G.I.N.O. (Fan-made title)
- United States - May 19, 1998 (New York City)
- United States - May 20, 1998
- Japan - July 11, 1998
- Brazil - July 17, 1998
- Canada - May 20, 1998
- Singapore - May 26, 1998
- Australia - June 11, 1998
- Hong Kong - June 18, 1998
- Spain - August 28, 1998
Godzilla's budget was $125 million in both production and advertising costs. Financially, the film did well in its initial release with a gross of $55 million, but poor word of mouth from both fans and critics caused the film's profits to drop 40% after the first week. Domestically, it made $136,314,294 and drew in another $242 million overseas, totaling $379,014,294 worldwide. Contrary to popular belief, Godzilla wasn't a flop, but it was not the blockbuster the studio was looking for. Sony's contract with Toho stated that Sony had the option to produce a trilogy of American Godzilla films so long as the first sequel was released within five years after the first film. Sony green-lit a sequel shortly after the film's release, while an animated series made as a continuation of the film began to air later in 1998. During that time TriStar released Toho's Godzilla 2000: Millennium in U.S. theaters. Because of the poor reception of the film, a lack of retailer interest, and the underwhelming financial performance of the first film, Sony ultimately decided not to make another Godzilla film and their license to the Godzilla franchise expired May of 2003.
The history of the 1998 film and its monster has been a rather mixed and negative one. The initial reaction to the 1998 release was mostly a negative one spanning from both movie critics and the Godzilla fanbase alike. Critically it was blasted for uninspired acting, random plots that don't fit, unnecessary use of rain, inconsistent size of the monster, shoddy special effects (even for its time period), and the constant themes and actual scenes it was accused of ripping off from Jurassic Park. TriStar's Godzilla was accused of heavily borrowing concepts such as the asexual development of eggs. Multiple scenes had the main characters running for their lives from the baby Godzillas which look much like the Velociraptors in Jurassic Park, although the directors insisted this was not intended.
There were scenes that were virtually frame-by-frame the same as Jurassic Park, like the Velociraptor shadow scene, jump attack sequence or the door opening sequence. At the end of the film when Godzilla was killed by the F-18 Hornets, audiences were confused as to whether or not they should have felt sorry for the creature or cheer much like the New York citizens and military celebrated to Godzilla's demise, whereas in the original film audiences were meant to feel sympathy for both Godzilla and the martyr who gave up his life to destroy him. The Godzilla fanbase criticized the film for lacking Godzilla's theme, personality, and key characteristics.
The monster's design was criticized as being more like the Rhedosaurus from The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms as opposed to the real Godzilla's traditional design. The origin of the monster was also changed from being a mutant fictional prehistoric reptile to a marine iguana mutated by nuclear fallout from a French nuclear test.
The most heavy criticism, though, came from the creature's lack of similarities and personality to the original monster. The monster lacked Godzilla's trademark atomic breath, as well as his strength and durability, testified by his easy destruction at the end by the F-18s at the Brooklyn Bridge. Dean Devlin tacked in a last-minute power breath even though he had no plans on adding any powers whatsoever. Whereas Godzilla was previously always depicted as a male creature and given the title "King of the Monsters," TriStar's Godzilla reproduced asexually and laid eggs. For these reasons, fans refused to equal the two monsters and differentiated by giving the creature nicknames such as "Notzilla," "Trizilla," "Deanzilla" or "Patzilla," because of its creators, Dean Devlin and Patrick Tatopoulos, and "G.I.N.O.", an acronym for "Godzilla In Name Only." Ryuhei Kitamura, the director of Godzilla: Final Wars, as well as Shogo Tomiyama, the man in charge of the Godzilla franchise at that time, finally responded by including the TriStar Godzilla in the film as a separate character named "Zilla," accusing TriStar of taking the "God" out of "Godzilla."
Toho in particular criticized the film for ruining Godzilla's image and "taking the 'God' out of 'Godzilla'" in addition to mandating that all future incarnations of the 1998 creature be called Zilla, they produced the film Godzilla 2000: Millennium as a direct response, in an attempt to return the traditional Japanese Godzilla to the big screen.
Godzilla received two Golden Raspberry awards in 1998: Worst Remake or Sequel and Worst Supporting Actress (Maria Pitillo). The film later received the Saturn Award for Best Special Effects in 1999.
The film spawned an animated series which continued the storyline of the movie. In this series, Nick Tatapolous accidentally discovers the egg that survived the destruction of the first Godzilla's nest in Madison Square Garden. The creature hatches and imprints on Nick as its parent. Subsequently, Nick and a group of friends form an elite research team called H.E.A.T., investigating strange occurrences and defending humankind from numerous other monsters with the help of the new Godzilla. Unlike the film upon which it was based, the animated series garnered a relatively positive reception from Godzilla fans, due to returning some of the Japanese Godzilla's characteristics to the titular monster and featuring plots similar in nature to many of the late Showa era Godzilla films.
A novelization was released for the film, written as a retrospective by Nick Tatopolous. Nick always refers to the monster as "Gojira" in the text.
A sequel to the film was planned and received an entire screenplay written by Tab Murphy, and would have involved the monster that hatched at the end of the film battling a giant insect called the Queen Bitch. However these plans for a sequel were ultimately scrapped when Sony and Roland Emmerich could not agree on a budget, and Emmerich went on to make The Patriot instead. Sony later considered producing a new reboot to the series unrelated to the 1998 film, but decided against it and allowed their rights to revert to Toho in May of 2003.
Home media releases
- Released: November 3, 1998
- Region: Region 1
- Language: English
- Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen
- Other Details: 2.35:1 aspect ratio, 139 minutes run time, 1 disc, American version
- Released: 2000
- Region: Region 2
- Language: Japanese
- Released: March 28, 2006
- Region: Region 1
- Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
- Format: Color, Dolby, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen
- Other Details: 2.35:1 aspect ratio, 139 minutes run time, 1 disc, American version
- Released: November 10, 2009
- Language: English, French, Portuguese, Spanish
- Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Blu-ray, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
- Other Details: 2.40:1 aspect ratio, 139 minutes run time, 1 disc, American version
- The species that this film's Godzilla originated from, the marine iguana, is only found in the Galápagos Islands. They do not exist in French Polynesia, the location where Godzilla was mutated in the film.
- When the Apaches are attacking Godzilla in the city they say they are going to fire AIM-9 Sidewinders at him, but in reality, sidewinders are air-to-air missiles that wouldn't have any effect. Likewise, when they use their cockpit mounted weaponry on Godzilla they are shown to be next to the cockpit which is incorrect for the helicopter's design. The weapon is actually mounted under the nose of the aircraft.
- Likewise, the Sidewinder missiles should not have been capable of destroying the Chrysler Building, as its neighbor, the Empire State Building, was of a similar construction and survived a plane crashing into it in 1945 without collapsing.
- Godzilla's leap through the Metlife Building should have resulted in its collapse, given that almost all of its central floors were torn away.
- The pregnancy tests that Nick uses test for the hormone HCG, or Human chorionic gonadotropin. Thus, these tests could not be used to see if Godzilla was pregnant, and in addition, reptiles are not placental animals, and thus are not able to produce similar hormones to HCG.
- During the final chase when the taxi is trapped in Park Avenue Tunnel, Audrey says the nearest suspension bridge is the Brooklyn Bridge. However this is incorrect, as a map of New York shows that they would pass the Williamsburg and Manhattan Bridges before reaching the Brooklyn Bridge.
- In the film the characters of the mayor and his adviser are clearly caricatures of Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel. Reportedly, the less-than-flattering portrayal was because both had given negative reviews of Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich's earlier film, Stargate and their summer blockbuster Independence Day. When the actual Siskel and Ebert reviewed Emmerich's Godzilla on their show, it received two thumbs down and Siskel commented on being spoofed in the film, saying it was "petty." Ebert's own print review declared that he considered Emmerich "let us off lightly; I fully expected to be squished like a bug by Godzilla."
- The music that plays on an elevator in a scene with Matthew Broderick is "Danke Schoen," which Broderick lip-synchs in a memorable scene from Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
- Matthew Broderick's character's last name is "Tatopoulos" which is a reference to Godzilla's designer and supervisor, Patrick Tatopoulos.
- The film is dedicated to Tomoyuki Tanaka, who produced all of the original Godzilla movies until 1995 and died only a month before this film began production.
- Three voice actors from the comedy series The Simpsons appear in the film: Harry Shearer, Nancy Cartwright and Hank Azaria.
- The film was spoofed in the stop-motion show Robot Chicken from Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. In the segment, producers Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich are given a chance to make a sequel, or rather a "remake of a remake"; they use the money to have the baby Godzillas perform an ice skating number in a rink. Later, they congratulate themselves on making "another giant piece of crap."
- An earlier script for an American Godzilla film was written by Terry Rossio and Ted Eliott and was going to be directed by Jan De Bont. A teaser trailer for this was made in Japan in 1994, but due to budget differences the script was dropped and Roland Emmerich was brought in. In the end, the original 1994 script's estimated budget which caused it to be dropped was a couple of million dollars under this film's budget.
- The critical failure of this movie completely altered Toho's then-current plans for the Godzilla series. Originally, the plan was to have the Japanese Godzilla die in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, allow the American films to run for a few years, then resume production of Godzilla films in 2005. After massive fan backlash, Toho retaliated by bringing the true Godzilla out of retirement early and releasing Godzilla 2000: Millennium. Coincidentally, production of Godzilla: Final Wars finished in 2004, a year before the series' hiatus was originally going to finish.
- In late summer of 2014, the 1998 film was mocked by RiffTrax Live, which was created by and shares many of the former members of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
- Another American-made Godzilla film was produced by Legendary Pictures in 2014. Unlike the 1998 film, Legendary's Godzilla was generally well-received by fans and critics alike, and was much more closely based on the character. A sequel for the film was green-lit, along with a crossover film with King Kong in 2020.
- The first teaser trailer (museum) plays before Men in Black in theaters in 1997. The second teaser trailer (fishing) plays during Christmas in 1997 as well.
- The two teaser trailers (museum and fishing) have their recycled clips and audio when they appear in a broadcast on CFCN in April and May 1998. Some dialogue and clips are skipped.