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GODZILLA (ＧＯＤＺＩＬＬＡ?) is a Gojira1998 American science fiction monster film produced by TriStar Pictures, and the first American Godzilla film. The film was released to American theaters on May 19, 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, dubbing 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 a chase with Godzilla, he 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); he 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 attacked by military aircraft, 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
Weapons, Vehicles, and Races
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 green-lighted it, however, Miner gave up on the project for several reasons, including no company wanting to back the project up. In 1994, TriStar acquired the rights to Godzilla and 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 the Gryphon, but the project was cancelled after De Bont left due to budget disagreements with TriStar. TriStar then tried to get Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin to make the new Godzilla, which they turned down several times. After the two read Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio's unmade script, however, they realized that an American version of Godzilla could be done and accepted TriStar's requests.
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."
- Main article: Godzilla (1998 film)/Gallery.
- G.I.N.O. (Fan-made Title)
GODZILLA's budget was $125 million in both production and advertising costs. Financially, the film did well in its initial release with $55 million, but word of mouth from both fans and critics caused the films profits to drop 40% after the first week. Domestically, it made $136,314,294 million and drew in another $242 million overseas, totaling $379,014,294 worldwide. It wasn't a flop, but it was not the blockbuster the studio was looking for. Sony and Toho had a contract that there was supposed to be a trilogy of Godzilla movies within 5 years of the first film. During that time Sony released Godzilla 2000 in U.S. theaters. Because of the reaction, a lack of retailer interest, and finances brought in by the first film, Sony decided not to make another Godzilla film and their contract with 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 ripped off from Jurassic Park. TriStar's "Godzilla" heavily borrowed concepts such as the asexual development of eggs. Multiple scenes had the main characters running for their lives from the baby Zillas which look much like the velociraptors in Jurassic Park, although the directors insist this was not intended.
There were scenes that were 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 Zilla 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 New York citizens and military celebrated to Zilla's demise. In the original, it had a sad ending for both the monster and martyr who gave himself up to destroy Godzilla and the Oxygen Destroyer. 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 is also changed, from being a mutant fictional dinosaur 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. For these reasons, fans refused to equal the two monsters and differentiated by naming the creature "Notzilla," "Trizilla," "Deanzilla" or "Patzilla," because of its creators, Dean Devlin and Patrick Tatopoulos, and the film has been nicknamed "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 officially renaming the creature "Zilla" for the movie Godzilla: Final Wars, accusing TriStar of taking the "God" out of "Godzilla."
Toho in particular hated 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 made Godzilla 2000: Millennium as a direct response.
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 nest. The creature hatches and imprints on him as its parent. Subsequently, Nick and a group of friends form an elite research team, investigating strange occurrences and defending human kind from numerous other monsters.
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 would have involved the monster that hatched at the end of the film. 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.
- 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 Zilla originated from, the Marine iguana, is only found in the Galápagos Islands. They do not exist in French Polynesia, the place where the film says Zilla was when he mutated.
- More inaccuracies about Zilla being a marine iguana include that marine iguanas do not eat fish and that they use their tails for defensive purposes while Zilla used his mouth.
- Iguanas also don't lay nearly enough eggs to fill Madison Square Garden; they lay, on average, 30 eggs. Zilla's eggs are also far too large to even physically work; the eggs of the largest sauropods (such as Giraffatitan or Argentinosaurus) are only 2 feet long at most, and thus much smaller than the 6 foot height of a human; if they were much bigger, the embryos would be unable to hatch.
- When the Apaches are attacking Zilla in the city they say they are going to fire AIM-9 Sidewinders at it, but in real life sidewinders are air-to-air missile that wouldn't have any effect on it and when they use their guns on Zilla they are shown to be next to the cockpit which is the wrong place on the design. The gun is mounted under the nose of the aircraft.
- Likewise, the Sidewinder missiles should not have been capable of destroying the Chrysler building, as its neighbour, the Empire State Building, was of a similar construction and survived a plane crashing into it in 1945 without collapsing.
- Zilla's leap through the Metlife Building should have resulted in its collapse, given that almost all of its central floors were damaged or torn away.
- In Zilla's first attack on New York, shortly after Zilla gets on a building to roar after destroying the Chrysler Building, Zilla disappears without trace and without anyone seeing or hearing him go away. This is physically impossible, considering Zilla's size and weight, plus the loud sounds he produces by walking.
- During the first attack on New York, it seems unlikely that a truck driver wearing headphones wouldn't be able to notice Zilla given the ground shaking and immense noise made by the stomping.
- 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 Zilla 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 in the Taxi trapped in Park Avenue Tunnel, Audrey says the nearest suspension bridge is the Brookyln Bridge. However this is incorrect, as a map of New York shows that they would pass the Williamsburg and Manhattan Bridge 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. 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" and it's a reference to Zilla's designer and supervisor, Patrick Tatopoulos.
- The film is dedicated to Tomoyuki Tanaka, who produced all of the original Godzilla movies 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 Zillas 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. Ironically, 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 with Zilla was mocked by RiffTrax Live, which was created by and shares many of the former members of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
This is a list of references for Godzilla (1998 film). These citations are used to identify the reliable sources on which this article is based. These references appear inside articles in the form of superscript numbers, which look like this: