Godzilla (Franchise)

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Godzilla (ゴジラ?, Gojira) is a popular series of giant monster films, games, comics, toys, and any licensed product featuring the character Godzilla. Starting in 1954, the Godzilla series has become one of the longest running film series in movie history.

The first film, Godzilla, was first released in the United States in 1955 in Japanese-American communities only. In 1956, it was adapted by an American company into Godzilla, King of the Monsters!, edited and with added principal scenes featuring Raymond Burr, and this version became an international success.

The original Godzilla was greatly inspired by the commercial success of the 1952 re-release of King Kong, and the 1953 success of The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms. Godzilla would go on to inspire Gorgo, Gamera, Cloverfield, and many others.

Series history

The Godzilla series is generally broken into three eras reflecting a characteristic style and corresponding to the same eras used to classify all tokusatsu kaiju film in Japan. The first two eras refer to the Japanese emperor during production: the Showa era, and the Heisei era. The third is called the Millennium era as the Heisei is the same but these films are considered to have a different style and storyline than the prior era.

Showa Series (1954–1975)

The initial series of movies is named for the Showa era in Japan (as all of these films were produced before Emperor Hirohito's death in 1989). This Showa timeline spanned from 1954, with Gojira, to 1975, with Terror of MechaGodzilla. With the exceptions of Gojira, Godzilla Raids Again, King Kong vs. Godzilla, and Mothra vs. Godzilla, much of the Showa series is relatively light-hearted. Starting with Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, Godzilla began evolving into a more human and playful antihero (this transition was complete by Son of Godzilla, where he is shown as a good character), and as years went by, he evolved into an anthropomorphic superhero. Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster was also significant for introducing Godzilla's archenemy and the main antagonist of the series, King Ghidorah. The films Son of Godzilla and All Monsters Attack were aimed at youthful audiences, featuring the appearance of Godzilla's son, Minilla. Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla was notable for introducing Godzilla's robotic arch foe and secondary villain of the movie series MechaGodzilla. The Showa series saw the addition of many monsters into the Godzilla continuity, two of which (Mothra and Rodan) had their own solo movies. This period featured a well documented continuity, although the 1968 film Destroy All Monsters takes place in 1999 causing some to consider it chronologically the final original Godzilla movie, even though most if not all subsequent films in the Showa series refer back to Monsterland, which is first revealed in Destroy All Monsters, thus clearly setting them chronologically after that film.

Heisei Series (1984–1995)

The timeline was revamped in 1984 with The Return of Godzilla; this movie was created as a direct sequel to the 1954 film, and ignores the continuity of the Shōwa series. Because of this, the original Godzilla movie is considered part of the Heisei series as well as being a part of the Showa series. The continuity ended in 1995's Godzilla vs. Destoroyah after a run of seven films. The "new" Godzilla was portrayed as much more of an animal than the latter Shōwa films, or as a destructive force as he began. The biological nature and science behind Godzilla became a much more discussed issue in the films, showing the increased focus of the moral focus on genetics. Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah gave the first concrete birth story for Godzilla, featuring a Godzillasaurus that was mutated by radiation into Godzilla.

Millennium Series (1999–2004)

The Millennium Series is the official term for the series of Godzilla movies, made after the Heisei series ended with Godzilla vs. Destoroyah. The common theme to this era is that all movies use Godzilla (1954) as the jumping-off point. Since the films are different, the sizes are different in some cases. Godzilla's most prominent size in this series is 55 meters (180 feet). In Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack he was 60 meters (about 196 feet), and in Godzilla: Final Wars he was 100 meters tall (about 328 feet). Godzilla was originally supposed to be 50 meters (about 164 feet) in Final Wars, but budgetary cutbacks in miniature sets forced this size change.

American Films

Unmade American Films

Godzilla: King of the Monsters 3-D
Main article: Godzilla: King of the Monsters 3-D.

The first talk of an American version of Godzilla was when director Steve Miner pitched his own take to Toho in 1983. "The idea was to do a Godzilla film as if it was the first one ever done, a big-budget American special FX movie." Miner said. "Our Godzilla would have been a combination of everything - man-in-suit, stop-motion and other stuff." Fred Dekker had written the screenplay. "We had a big Godzilla trying to find its baby. It's a bit of a Gorgo storyline. The big ending has Godzilla destroying San Francisco. The final Godzilla death scene was to be on Alcatraz Island." Toho and Warner Bros. were said to be very interested in Miner's take but it eventually became too expensive.

Godzilla (1994)
Main article: Godzilla (1994 film).
Godzilla 3D to the MAX
Main article: Godzilla 3D to the MAX.


Main article: Godzilla (1998 film).

In October 1992, Toho allowed Sony Pictures to make a trilogy of English-language Godzilla films, with the first film to be released in 1994. In May 1993 Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio were brought on to write a script, and in July 1994 Jan de Bont, director of Speed and Twister, signed on to direct. DeBont quit due to budget disputes, and director Roland Emmerich and producer Dean Devlin signed on before the release of the highly successful Independence Day. They rejected the previous script and Patrick Tatopoulos radically redesigned the titular monster. The film was finally scheduled for release on May 19, 1998.[1]

GODZILLA was met with mostly negative reviews and negative reaction from the fan base. It also received negative reception from Toho, who proceeded to make Godzilla 2000: Millennium in apparent retaliation. Having grossed $375 million worldwide, though, the studio moved ahead with an animated spin-off titled Godzilla: The Series. Tab Murphy wrote a treatment, but Emmerich and Devlin left the production in March 1999 due to budget disputes. The original deal was to make a sequel within five years of release of a film, but after sitting on their property, considering a reboot, Sony's rights to make a GODZILLA 2 expired in May of 2003, just before the time the character of the film and animated series was receiving a legal name change.

Godzilla (2014)

Main article: Godzilla (2014 film).
Godzilla 2012 design

Legendary's concept art of Godzilla (modeled by Gonzalo Ordóñez Arias)

After the release of 2004's Godzilla: Final Wars, marking the 50th anniversary of the Godzilla film franchise, Toho announced that it would not produce any films featuring the Godzilla character for ten years. Toho demolished the water stage on its lot used in numerous Godzilla films to stage water scenes.[2] Director Yoshimitsu Banno, who had directed 1971's Godzilla vs. Hedorah, secured the rights from Toho to make an IMAX 3D short film production, based on a remake of the Godzilla vs. Hedorah story. Banno was unable to find backers to produce the film. Banno met American producer Brian Rogers, and the two planned to work together on the project. Rogers approached Legendary Pictures in 2009, and the project became a plan to produce a feature film instead.

In March 2010, Legendary formally announced the project after it had acquired rights to make a Godzilla film from Toho Company Ltd., with a tentative release date of 2012. The project is to be co-produced with Warner Bros., who will co-finance the project.[3][4] Legendary said their film would not be a sequel to the 1998 GODZILLA but a reboot to the franchise.

Legendary first promoted the planned new film at the San Diego Comic-Con International fan convention in July 2010. Legendary commissioned a new conceptual artwork of Godzilla, consistent with the Japanese design of the monster.[5] The artwork was used in an augmented reality display produced by Talking Dog Studios. Every visitor to the convention was given a T-shirt illustrated with the concept art. When viewed by webcam at the Legendary Pictures booth, the image on-screen would spout radioactive breath and the distinctive Godzilla roar could be heard.[6]

Gareth Edwards, who directed Monsters, was attached in January 2011 to direct the new Godzilla film.[7][8] Edwards said of his plans, "This will definitely have a very different feel than the most recent US film, and our biggest concern is making sure we get it right for the fans because we know their concerns. It must be brilliant in every category because I’m a fan as well."[9] When Edwards' signing was announced, it was also announced that David Callaham's first draft was rejected and the film would be rewritten by a new writer.[8] In July 2011, Legendary announced that writer David Goyer would write the script however [10] on November 9, 2011, it was reported that Max Borenstein has been attached to write the film instead.[11]

Series Development

Godzilla was originally an allegory for the effects of the hydrogen bomb, and the consequences that such weapons might have on earth. The radioactive contamination of the Japanese fishing boat Daigo Fukuryū Maru through the United States' Castle Bravo thermonuclear device test on Bikini Atoll, on March 1, 1954 led to much press coverage in Japan preceding the release of the first movie in 1954. The Heisei and Millennium series have largely continued this concept. Some have pointed out the parallels, conscious or unconscious, between Godzilla's relationship to Japan and that of the United States; first a terrible enemy who causes enormous destruction to the cities of Japan such as Tokyo (Godzilla, The Return of Godzilla), Osaka (Godzilla Raids Again, Godzilla vs. Biollante, Godzilla vs. Megaguirus), and Yokohama (Godzilla vs. Mothra, Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack) in different films, but then becoming a good friend and defender in times of peril.

Films have been made over the last five decades, each reflecting the social and political climate in Japan.

Other Media


Godzilla also had his own series of books published by Random House during the late 1990s. The company created different series for different age groups, the Scott Ciencin series]being aimed at children. Several manga have been derived from specific Godzilla films, and both Marvel and Dark Horse have published Godzilla comic book series (1977–1979 and 1987–1999, respectively). In 2011, IDW Publishing started a new series Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters rebooting the Godzilla story, and in 2013, IDW began Godzilla: Rulers of Earth.


Blue Öyster Cult released the song "Godzilla" in 1977. It references Godzilla's habit of destroying Tokyo, and the introduction to the live version (1982) directly references the first Godzilla movie "...lurking for millions of years, encased in a block of ice, evil incarnate, waiting to be melted down and to rise again."

The French death metal band Gojira is based on Godzilla's Japanese kaiju name.

The song "Simon Says" by Pharoahe Monch is a hip-hop remix of the Godzilla March theme song. The instrumental version of this song was notably used in the 2000 film Charlie's Angels.

British band Lostprophets released a song called "We Are Godzilla, You Are Japan" on their second studio album Start Something.

The American punk band, Groovie Ghoulies released a song called 'Hats Off To You (Godzilla)' as a tribute to Godzilla. It is featured on the EP 'Freaks on Parade' released in 2002.

The American artist Doctor Steel released a song called 'Atomic Superstar' about Godzilla on his album "People of Earth" in 2002.

Label Shifty issued compilation Destroysall with 15 songs from 15 bands, ranging from hardcore punk to doom-laden death metal. Not all songs are dedicated to Godzilla, but all do appear connected to monsters from Toho studios. Fittingly, the disc was released on August 1, 2003, the 35th anniversary of the Japanese release of Destroy All Monsters.


Putting the Godzilla films' suits and effects crew to further use were several Japanese television shows such as Ulta Q, Ultraman and the Toho-produced Zone Fighter and some shows inspired by it used the suits occasionally for cameos. Godzilla Island primarily followed the further adventures of the kaiju featured in the films.

The success of the Godzilla franchise has spawned two U.S. Saturday morning cartoons: Godzilla and Godzilla: The Series. Both series feature an investigative scientific team who call upon Godzilla as an ally. The series make several homages to the Shōwa films and several antagonist monsters have been inspired by extant Toho creations.

In 1991, two Godzilla films, Godzilla vs. Megalon and Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster, were shown on the movie-mocking program, Mystery Science Theater 3000.

In 2011, Godzilla appeared on Love Me, Love Me Not as an underwater neighbor to Daisy.

Video Games

Main article: Category:Video Games.

Cultural Impact

Main article: Godzilla in popular culture.

Godzilla is one of the most recognizable symbols of Japanese popular culture worldwide and remains an important facet of Japanese films, embodying the Kaiju subset of the tokusatsu genre. He has been considered a filmographic metaphor for the United States (with the "-zilla" part of the name being used in vernacular language as a suffix to indicate something of exaggerate proportions), as well as an allegory of nuclear weapons in general. The earlier Godzilla films, especially the original Godzilla, portrayed Godzilla as a frightening, nuclear monster. Godzilla represented the fears that many Japanese held about the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the possibility of recurrence.[12]

Much of Godzilla's popularity in the United States can be credited with TV broadcasts of the Toho Studios monster movies during the 1960s and 1970s. The American company UPA contracted with Toho to distribute its monster movies of the time, and UPA continues to hold the license today for the Godzilla films of the 1960s and 1970s. Sony currently holds some of those rights, as well as the rights to every Godzilla film produced from 1991 onward. The Blue Öyster Cult song "Godzilla" also contributed to the popularity of the movies. The creature also made an appearance in a Nike commercial, in which Godzilla went one-on-one with NBA star Charles Barkley.

At least two prehistoric creatures from the fossil record have been named after Godzilla. Gojirasaurus Quayi is a theropod dinosaur that lived in the Triassic Period; a partial skeleton was unearthed in Quay County, New Mexico. Dakosaurus andiniensis, a crocodile from the Jurassic Period, was nicknamed "Godzilla" before being scientifically classified.

In 2010 the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society named their most recently acquired scout vessel MV Gojira. The Godzilla Franchise served them with a notice to remove the name and in response the boat's name was changed in May 2011 to MV Brigitte Bardot.[13]


  • 1955 Japan Academy Award – Special Effects (Godzilla)
  • 2007 Saturn Awards – Best DVD Classic Film Release (Godzilla)
  • 1965 Japan Academy Award – Best Score (Mothra vs. Godzilla)
  • 1966 Japan Academy Award – Special Effects (Invasion of Astro Monster)
  • 1986 Japan Academy Award – Special Effects and Newcomer of the Year (The Return of Godzilla)
  • 1986 Razzie Awards – Worst Supporting Actor and Worst New Star (The Return of Godzilla)
  • 1992 Japan Academy Award – Special Effects (Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah)
  • 1993 Tokyo Sports Movie Awards – Best Leading Actor (Godzilla vs. Mothra)
  • 1993 Best Grossing Films Award – Golden Award and Money-Making Star Award (Godzilla vs. Mothra)
  • 1993 Japan Academy Award – Best Score (Godzilla vs. Mothra)
  • 1994 Japan Academy Award – Best Score (Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II)
  • 1995 Best Grossing Films Award – Silver Award (Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla)
  • 1996 Best Grossing Films Award – Golden Award (Godzilla vs. Destoroyah)
    • In 1996, after his then-final appearance in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, Godzilla received an award for Lifetime Achievement at the MTV Movie Awards. Creator and producer Shōgo Tomiyama accepted on his behalf via satellite but was joined by "Godzilla" himself.
  • 1996 Japan Academy Award – Special Effects (Godzilla vs. Destoroyah)
  • 1996 MTV Movie Awards – Lifetime Achievement*
  • 1998 Golden Raspberry Awards – Worst Supporting Actress and Worst Remake or Sequel (Godzilla 1998)
  • 1999 Saturn Awards – Best Special Effects (Godzilla 1998)
  • 2001 Saturn Awards – Best Home Video Release (Godzilla 2000)
  • 2002 Best Grossing Films Award – Silver Award (Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack)
  • 2004 Hollywood Walk of Fame[14]


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