Writing Godzilla

Godzilla was written in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico — Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin’s favourite screenwriting ground. The first draft was started in late October 1996, and was completed in December the 19th of the same year. Since the beginning, the script was entirely different from Terry Elliott and Ted Rossio’s — with only a small number of common traits. Among the most notable, there are the main setting (Manhattan) and the manner Godzilla is labeled as such: the creature is named after a mythological sea dragon by a survivor of one of its attacks — a Japanese fisherman. “Gojira… Gojira… Gojira,” he utters in the film. Due to these slight similarities, Elliott and Rossio still mantained a screenwriting credit for the film.

Emmerich and Devlin’s basic concept was to reinvent Godzilla for a modern audience. Despite the several creative licenses the film would take, however, the origin of the atomic beast would certainly pay homage to the original 1954 film. Emmerich said in the Making of book: “we wanted to stay true to the essence of why Godzilla was created in the first place, which had to do with a lot of people’s fears of what was going on with weapons and radiation. You have to remember how the first Godzilla was created. The original was made in Japan shortly after World War II, and the devastation caused by the two nuclear bombs was obviously in the minds of the Japanese people. So, we kept that theme going. We really wanted to honor where it came from and yet start anew.” He then added that “I didn’t want to remake the original Godzilla. We took part of the basic storyline, in that the creature is created by radiation and becomes a big challenge. But that’s all we took. Then we thought, what would we do today with a Monster Movie and a story like that.”

GodzillaattackchoppersThe original Godzilla was an unspecified prehistoric reptile, an animal adapted to both terrestrial and marine life — mutated by the american nuclear tests in the Bikini atoll, which were held from 1946 to 1957. The most infamous test was Castle Bravo, held March the 1st, 1954 — the year of Godzilla — the most powerful atomic bomb of the time. In the Showa series, the second Godzilla mantained this origin — but as time progressed, the character’s origins were eventually changed: in the Heisei series, Godzilla Vs. King Ghidorah portrays the second Godzilla (whilst keeping the original as it was) as a Dinosaur — a Godzillasaurus, literally — mutated by the nuclear radiation of a Russian submarine in the 70s, after the creature was frozen and transported deep within the ocean by the futurians.

In Emmerich’s film, Godzilla’s origins were again altered slightly, whilst still mantaining the fundamental connection with nuclear weapons. Emmerich’s idea conceived the first appearence of Godzilla in the world, with no attacks prior to the events of portrayed in the film. Since the film would be set in contemporary 1998, the specific nuclear weapons responsible for the creature’s mutation would obviously have to be changed, also to remain culturally significant. The screenwriting duo eventually selected recent tests conducted in the French Polynesia: spanning from 1966 to 1996, over 193 atomic bombs were detonated in the Mururoa and Fangataufa atolls, causing an enormous radioactive fallout, and even an increase in cancer cases in the nearest inhabited islands. The tests were in fact stopped after several protests. The American Godzilla is thus an unspecified reptile, mutated beyond recognition by the radiation released by the continuous bomb tests. In a further attempt to reference recent nuclear disasters, Nick Tatopoulos also visits Chernobyl — whose infamous disaster happened in 1986.

Throughout the entirety of the film series before the American remake, the character of Godzilla underwent many personality changes. Starting from a beastly and destructive incarnation in the original film — a living embodiment of the nuclear bomb — the Monster progressively became a hero figure during the Showa series. In 1984, Godzilla marked a return to the roots for the character — who demonstrates raw, animalistic behaviour throughout the film. Once again, the Heisei series saw a change of personality — with Godzilla slowly becoming an anti-hero character.

As reimagined, Godzilla would return to a more beast-like personality. Emmerich commented: “Godzilla behaves like a trapped animal trying to survive and the scariness comes from the sheer fact that you have to deal with a huge animal that is unpredictable. He’s doing what he has to do. In a way, he is created by us, in that we influence nature, we create something that doesn’t exist in nature and nature strikes back.” Able to portray a more agile Monster with advanced digital technology, Emmerich and Devlin decided to make Godzilla a “fast and lethal” predator, in contrast with precedent incarnations of the character (an idea already conceived by Ricardo Delgado’s design for the Elliott and Rossio script). In addition, the Monster would be exceptionally intelligent for an animal, able to ambush its opponents and use their weapons against them, as demonstrated when it leads the torpedoes directed at it towards one of the military submarines. “It learns from its mistakes,” Emmerich said. In one of the drafts, Godzilla also literally mimicked the shape of a building — a concept later dropped for the final film — or changed color hues like a chameleon, something only visually implied in the film.

Early concept art by Patrick Tatopoulos shows Godzilla using the trademark bright blue-colored atomic breath. Although initially considered, this concept was dropped in favor of a vapour-like blast of pressurized air — called “power breath” in the script — that sometimes ignites in a fiery flow. It is used thrice in the film, and twice to a massive effect.

GodzillafireThe smoke annoying and distracting him, Godzilla spins,
his tail waving the smoke away. But the smoke returns.
Godzilla YELLS OUT. Frustrated he rears back and

For the first time we SEE the infamous POWER BREATH of
Godzilla. With amazing FORCE the smoke, canisters, cars
and anything that isn’t nailed down SAILS BACKWARDS from
the intense pressure.

-Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin, Godzilla, first draft

A major inclusion in the film was represented by the nest and the baby Godzillas, another idea conceptually inspired by the Japanese films. In Son of Godzilla, an egg hatches revealing a baby Godzilla — called Minilla — which makes several other appearences in the Showa series. A similar character is introduced in the Heisei Godzilla Vs. MechaGodzilla, where baby Godzilla is born (the character appears in all the subsequent Heisei entries, labeled as baby Godzilla, little Godzilla and Godzilla Junior; it eventually becomes the new Godzilla after his father’s death in Godzilla Vs. Destroyah). The appearence of both characters was never fully explained. In the japanese version of the Heisei Godzilla Vs. MechaGodzilla, the egg the baby Godzilla hatches from is said to be 65 million years old and “reanimated” by radiation; Godzilla thus effectively acted as an adoptive parent. The Monster was always referred to as a male, and claimed to be male by the filmmakers — with the exception of Haruo Nakajima, the original suit performer, who was quoted once as saying that the second Showa Godzilla was, in fact, female. The new film would thus include the idea that Godzilla is able to reproduce by itself, without the need for a partner (the filmmakers happily joke on the concept with a line in the film: “where’s the fun in that?”). The film simply labels it as “asexual reproduction” in the words of its own protagonist, with no further explanation given (although due to the structural advancement of a vertebrate, Godzilla probably reproduces by transgender parthenogenesis or hermaphroditism).

GodzillababiescomingThe characters of the film were sometimes written with specific actors in mind, or following certain genre archetypes. The main character is, in fact, a scientist studying Godzilla — a trait common to some of the Japanese films. Nick Tatopoulos was named after creature designer Patrick Tatopoulos, as a homage to how his concepts reignited Emmerich and Devlin’s interest in the project. A recurring joke in the film portrays the constant misspelling of the Greek last name — a trait inspired by the film’s own American crew, which “kept misspelling [Patrick’s] last name,” said visual effects supervisor Karen Goulekas. The label of ‘the worm guy’ was inspired by the author of a biology book read by Devlin.

The character of Philippe was the one to receive the most changes. In the original draft, he was named Raymond, and was an actual insurance investigator. Devlin recalled: “when we started writing the script, we thought, who gets most upset when buildings are destroyed? Well, the insurance companies do. So, we thought it would be interesting to have this french insurance investigator trying to find out the cause of all this damage.” As the script drafts progressed, Raymond the insurance investigator became Philippe the secret agent, simply disguised as an insurance man. Philippe is also a patriot, and is characterized by his nostalgia for his home country, implied in dialogue and visually.

PhilippennMany of the characters were cosmetically changed following the actors’ own personalities and ideas infused into the corresponding role. Victor ‘Animal’ Palotti, the reporter (another character archetype already seen in the series) became more reckless and his personality shifted slightly, with a more pronounced sarcastic side. He is “[friends with Audrey] because they are both ambitious journalists.” Nick’s fianceé, Audrey Timmonds, is “striving to get ahead in journalism, to prove herself. She will do anything to get the story,” according to performer Maria Pitillo. The film portrays her character arc, initially a very influenceable girl, as well as determined and dedicated (to the point of stealing secret video tapes). Eventually, she becomes desperate to be forgiven by the lost fiancé in the second act — at which point she risks her life to reach that objective. In the end, she is also finally able to overcome her harassing boss — Caiman, another character cosmetically changed from first draft to final script — by resigning.

The military side of the character ensemble was represented by Colonel Hicks and Sergeant O’Neal. The former was not supposed to be “the typical shouting commander” and instead a very humane character. “You immediately feel that this guy is under tremendous pressure,” Devlin said. O’Neal is instead a soldier obviously caught imprepared in front of such an enormous situation. “I just really saw the character in terms of the military,” actor Doug Savant said, also in regards to the character’s relationship with Nick Tatopoulos. “He only knows how to deal with things in terms of rank, so he never knew quite how Matthew’s character fit in to that scheme. Nick’s not someone O’Neal would necessarily respect, but he’s the guy O’Neal needs for answers. O’Neal is just dying to have a way to control the situation and he’s looking for reassurance  from Nick, who constantly gives him none, so he’s absolutely frustrated with Nick.”

BaboomOther relatively minor characters include Nick’s team — Elsie Chapman, a scientist “whose brilliance, in part, compensates for a lack of social grace,” and Mendel Craven, originally named Clive Craven. “They changed it to Mendel because that’s Dean [Devlin]’s nickname for me,” performer Malcolm Danare said. Also included in the film were Mayor Ebert and his assistant Siskel, clear parodies of the critic duo Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel (to the point where they use the duo’s signature “thumbs-up” and “thumbs-down”).

Structurally, the film followed the formula of the first Godzilla. Emmerich said: “The first movie didn’t immediately reveal Godzilla. You saw the results of Godzilla. There were sinking ships, trampled-over villages and it’s all outside Tokyo and it’s very suspenseful.” Several of the first sequences in the remake also paid homage to the original film, namely the ship attack and the discovery of the creature’s enormous footprints. In regards to the tone, it was estabilished as mostly serious, with a vein of humour typical of the duo’s precedent films. The film was mostly set in rainy days to add further atmosphere and mystery around the Monster. This peculiarity of the film was inspired by the first concept art pieces by Patrick Tatopoulos, which portrayed Godzilla in rain and mist. This “gothic look,” as defined by both the designer and the director, was mantained for the film. At one point, it was also suggested to feature a connection between the creature and the rain — making the latter stop as Godzilla dies at the end of the film. The idea was eventually discarded. One of the themes of the film was also how the size of Godzilla played a an obvious role in the events of the film — the famous tagline “Size Does Matter” played on this aspect of the film. “When you try to capture an animal and hunt it down, if it is small, it is easy. But this is a big animal; every footstep is 140 feet and he runs about 200 mph.” As a matter of fact, some of the destruction caused by the creature is only due to its sheer size;  not always is a height of 50 meters convenient, as demonstrated during the climactic taxi chase and the creature’s death — allowed to happen only because it was trapped in the Brooklyn bridge.

The final draft was completed shortly before production began, in early 1997. Several changes from the first draft to the final film were mostly confined to changes in dialogue, names, artillery and places. The climactic taxi chase, for example, ends in the George Washington bridge, as opposed to the Brooklyn bridge in the final film. As already mentioned, ideas from the actors were sometimes inserted. Cut scenes also include some dialogue further developing Nick and Audrey’s past; a scene where a corpse drops in front of Nick as the scientist investigates inside the destroyed fish tanker; Godzilla destroying the Jumbo TRON billboard; notably, during the first bait sequence, the military tries to use toxic gas to asphyxiate the creature, to no avail — something not seen in the film. Godzilla in the final film was also made notably more resilient and powerful — running towards gunfire and being less subject to wounds. References to wounds and scars were mostly removed, with the final Godzilla only leaving a single drop of blood during the first chase scene, and being fatally injured by twelve missiles at the end of the film. The nest scene was also postponed: in the final film, it begins after Godzilla is apparently taken down by the torpedoes, whereas in the script the team finds the nest as Godzilla dives in the Hudson river.


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The Cast


Matthew Broderick as Nick Tatopoulos.

Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin wrote certain characters in the script for Godzilla with specific actors in mind. At the same time, many of the actors chosen for the roles brought their ideas into the characters, making them stray from the original vision. “It was a unique opportunity for us,” Devlin said in the Making of Godzilla book, “because we were writing the script and dreaming the parts and we actually got the very people we had in mind.” The duo — since the beginning of their filmmaking collaboration — had always wanted to cast in a role Matthew Broderick, whose career started in 1981, but was actually launched with Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in 1986.For example, the role of Daniel Jackson in Stargate was originally written for Broderick, but was eventually given to James Spader. Godzilla represented another chance for a film collaboration. Devlin recalled: “ever since Roland and I started working together, we have wanted to work with Matthew Broderick. He’s one of our favourite actors in the world and it’s never worked out. Finally, we were in a position where we could make a movie together and it has been a lot of fun. He brought a lot of humor to the part and really got the spirit of the movie.”

NickEmmerich added: “I always wanted to work with Matthew. This is actually embarrassing, but I wanted to cast him in so many movies and it was always something. This time we said, ‘we’ll change it around. We’ll go first to Matthew.’ So, we did. We told him, ‘we’ll write a script and you will be in it and you will be that part — because the script will be there in six weeks and it’s your part if you want it.’ He read it and he wanted to do it. That was the safest possible route to get Matthew Broderick.” The film even pays homage to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, when Nick Tatopoulos escapes in an elevator from the Baby Godzillas, the song playing inside is Danke Schoen, which Ferris Bueller lip-syncs in a scene from that film.


Broderick himself was new to a film such as Godzilla, but liked the idea enough to try and experiment with a different kind of role. “I liked Dean and Roland very much,” he said, “had a couple meeting with them and enjoyed the script. I wouldn’t have done it if I thought it were boring or second-rate. Plus, I like to try different film genres. Althought I’ve done films like War Games and Ladyhawke, which had a lot of effects, or Glory, which was massive but in a different way, I’d never done a movie like Godzilla before.” Broderick actually injured his knee before principal photography began, and with a role demanding climbing and running, the actor entered a course of exercise and physical therapy. The course succeeded, and the actor shot on schedule without much difficulty; it also helped that much of the film was shot in Manhattan — his home. “It was exciting to watch how they did it,” he said. “The number of sets, the size of the cast, the amount of New York that was lit for night, blocks and blocks… it was astonishing and thrilling to be a part of that.”


Jean Reno as Philippe Roache.

PhilippennBoth Devlin and Emmerich were enthusiasts of films such as The Big Blue and The Professional. Jean Reno, who plays Philippe Roache in the film, was the perfect counterpart for Broderick — and was one of the actors that the duo had in mind whilst writing the script. Emmerich said: “we were writing this part for Matthew and we said, ‘who could be a great counterpart for Matthew?’ then we said… ‘Jean Reno!’ It was just like that because we had roughly a story… and he agreed to do it but he had to do Les Visateurs II and he thought he could postpone it, but he couldn’t, so we had to work around that shooting schedule.” For Reno himself, Godzilla marked his first time shooting in Los Angeles (where most of his scenes were filmed, along with Hawaii). “I liked the humanity between the characters and the humor to the story. A lof of it came from Roland. I like to work with a director who knows exactly what he wants, so when he gets it, we can move around that point a little bit. He asked me to play different colors at different takes, so he had more choices at the editing table. To work with someone like that, who gives us room to explore, that is very nice for an actor, very comfortable.”


Maria Pitillo as Audrey Timmonds.

Nick’s fianceé, Audrey Timmonds, was played by Maria Pitillo, an actress mainly known for her roles in TV series, as well as a minor part in She Devil (1989). Despite Emmerich and Devlin’s previous ‘late’ cast choices for the female leads, Pitillo was found in a shorter — though always significant — time. Devlin recalled: “we had done an exhaustive search to find the right woman to play Audrey. It was very hard because there are a lot of different sides to this character. She’s adorable and sweet but she’s also ambitious and professional. There must be something about her so that when you meet her, you understand that she’s inexperienced but she ends up surprising you with her capability. Maria came in and just blew us away. She brought the character a real effervescence, but when she needs to, she can also become a very tough reporter.”


AudreybrellaEmmerich added: “Maria won me over with her comic timing. It was great. She had to have good chemistry with Matthew but she also had to be together a lot with Hank Azaria who is very quick and funn, so she ha dto keep up with him too.” Pitillo found working on Godzilla a generally satisfying experience; she recalled: “I think Roland and I connected early on, I think we saw Audrey the same way and he would encourage me to come up with things as we shot. He’d give me little notes and ideas and we sort of shaped her together. We found little things that made her more funny.”


Hank Azaria as Victor ‘Animal’ Palotti.

Hank Azaria was cast as Victor ‘Animal’ Palotti, and brought a new dimension to the role. “I actually ran into Hank at a restaurant,” Devlin said. “We started talking and I realized that this is a guy who does really incredible characters and every part he plays is totally different. I talked it over with Roland and he liked the idea of an actor who could create something completely different from what we had in mind. When we met with him, we immediately felt that this was a guy who could bring a whole lot more to the role. He’s just a wonderful, wonderful actor who comes to the project with an enormous amount of energy and love for Godzilla, because he is a Godzilla fan from way back.” Azaria had in fact watched some of the films in the japanese series during his childhood. “When [King Kong Vs. Godzilla] came out, that was a big deal when I was growing up. I remember actively worrying about who would win.”

Godzilla-CTIT-2239The reckless role of Animal required the filming of some action sequences — such as Godzilla’s first attack. “My character is a very New York, Italian, sarcastic cameraman. He’s a guy who will do whatever it takes to get the shot, he’s running around, trying to photograph Godzilla. Of course, most people are running away from Godzilla, but I’m running toward him. The hundreds of extras were running from Godzilla, looking behind them as I was running forward. I was constantly smashed by all the extras running forward and looking back. I almost died many times. One of the extras really barreled into me as he was running away. I got banged nicely in the face.” Azaria’s main advantage whilst shooting the film was his experience in having to imagine the co-stars whilst acting — a skill he learned working on The Simpsons, where he voices several characters, including Moe and Apu. “For some of the actors,” he said, “it was a little weird, acting to nothing, but it wasn’t for me. I wondered why it wasn’t a problem for me, but I realized that, on The Simpsons, that’s all we do — we’re always screaming and yelling and being frightened of nothing. It seemed normal to me.” Azaria also jokingly recalled the shooting of scenes that would feature the digital Godzilla: “most of the time, we had a lot of production assistants walking around with Xs for eyeline purposes, people on megaphones announcing what Godzilla was doing. That got a little silly. ‘And he’s angry. And he’s walking.’ We started making stuff up, like ‘we’re not sure what he’s doing, he’s hard to read. Now he’s crying. Now he’s impressed with your necktie.'” Coincidentally, Animal’s wife — Lucy — is played by Arabella Field, with whom Azaria had collaborated on the TV series If not for You.


Kevin Dunn as Colonel Hicks.


Doug Savant as Sergeant O’Neal.

The military side in the film is represented by Colonel Hicks, played by Kevin Dunn, and Sergeant O’Neal, played by Doug Savant. “We didn’t want the Colonel to be this typical shouting commander,” Devlin said. “We wanted someone who was almost immediately likable, so that you sympathize with this enormous problem he has on his hands. The way Kevin plays him — you immediately feel that this guy is under tremendous pressure, but also has that military reserve and an underlying humanity.” Savant had become acquainted with Devlin years before the production of Godzilla, as a “poker-playing buddy” of his. Devlin added: “he came in with such an original take on this character that we ended up rewriting the part for him.” Savant himself added: “the fun of playing Sergeant O’Neal was that he is utterly out of his depth, completely in over his head. He is a professional military guy who deals with everything as a military man should, but this is Godzilla and traditional maneuvers just aren’t going to work. He’s in charge of all these troops, he’s got half a dozen tanks, probablt two hundred to three hundred men with rocket launchers and F-16s and grenades and guns and you know what? That’s not enough to deal with Godzilla. O’Neal is overmatched.”


Michael Lerner as Mayor Ebert (Lorry Goldman as his assistant Gene in the background).

Another side character, Mayor Ebert, was played by Michael Lerner, an actor Emmerich previously wanted to hire for other films. “Michael is a really class act,” Devlin said, “and we needed someone who could really flesh out the role and make the audience believe that this was a possible situation.” Ebert’s assistant, Gene, was played by Lorry Goldman. Other minor roles include Tatopoulos’ scientific investigation team — Elsie Chapman, played by Vicki Lewis, and Mendel Craven, played by Malcolm Danare (and actually named after Devlin’s nickname for the actor). For both roles, the actors brought Charles Caiman, New York’s famed news reporter, is played by Harry Shearer. The actor brought “ad-libs and sonorous malapropisms” into the role, making it differ from the filmmakers’ original vision like a number of other characters. Interestingly enough, much like Azaria, Shearer and Nancy Cartwright — who makes only a brief cameo in the film — are both voice actors on The Simpsons.


Vicki Lewis as Elsie Chapman.

Devlin ultimately commented on the cast, saying that “these kind of movies really work only if the audience cares about the characters and the story. We try to write characters and cast actors that the audience really cares about — because, otherwise, there is no impact from all the amazing effects. If you fall in love with the characters, root for them, or even if you hate them, then the effects really have meaning. Fortunately, with the help of our casting director, April Webster, we were able to assemble an amazing ensemble of artists.”


For more images of the cast, visit the Gallery.

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Gallery: The Cast

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August 4, 2014 · 11:02 pm

Inception: TriStar and Godzilla


The first teaser poster for the film.

TriStar first acquired rights to produce a film featuring the Godzilla character in 1992, whilst TOHO co. Ltd.’s Godzilla Vs. Mothra was still undergoing production. The idea of an American film featuring the Monster was not new: in 1983, director Steve Miner had obtained permission from TOHO to make Godzilla 3D — a project that would ultimately die the following year, due to lack of support from the film studios it was proposed to. The first executive in charge of TriStar’s project was Chris Lee, an enthusiast of Godzilla films since childhood. “I grew up in Hawaii,” he said in The Making of Godzilla book, “and I actually watched the Godzilla movies in a TOHO theater. I saw the original Japanese version there, as well as the subsequent ones, and I always thought that I’d love to see another Godzilla movie, though when I started doing this in 1991-1992, I don’t remember getting much encouragement. It was a film that I had always wanted to do, but I wasn’t exactly sure quite how to accomplish it. I knew that I wanted to tell a story that was done straight-ahead, in the spirit of the first movie, which was not campy. I wanted to reflect not what the movie had become but how it started out. I loved the goofier Godzillas too, but I knew a new version was about taking it seriously. You can’t consciously set out to make it campy.”

TriStar’s initial intention was to release their film in summer 1994, but the various scripts proposed to the studio continued to be unsuccessful. In May 1993, screenwriting duo Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio were hired to write a script for the film, which was eventually completed in November. Their version satisfied Lee — (“[they] came up with a fantastic script,” he said) who started to propose the project to various directors. Roland Emmerich was among the first to know about it, but initially turned the chance down. Elliott and Rossio’s script eventually caught the attention of Jan De Bont — who had recently finished his latest film, Speed. The director worked closely with Elliott and Rossio’s final draft, which was was completed on December 9, 1994 — just one day before the release of Godzilla Vs. SpaceGodzilla in Japan. The film was thus set to be released in summer 1996.


Ricardo Delgado’s Godzilla design.

Defined by the writers as a “reptilian dragon”, the new Godzilla was conceived as a genetically engineered Monster created by an ancient civilization, using combined Dinosaur genes (this went against one of TOHO’s guidelines, which dictated that Godzilla should be the result of a mutation caused by nuclear radiation). The biological weapon was conceived to eradicate the threats of an alien civilization, that used biomechanical probes to terraform new planets for their needs. Godzilla receives its name from a Japanese fisherman, a survivor of one of its early attacks after its awakening. 12 years after the creature’s first appearence, an alien probe lands in Kentucky and begins its terraforming process by absorbing a batch of bats and mutating them. The purpose of the creatures, labeled as ‘probe bats’, is to collect genetic material and deliver it to the probe itself, which mutates into an aberrant creature — the ‘Gryphon’ — in the third act. The two gargantuan beasts finally clash in Manhattan, and Godzilla emerges victorious after a  rather gruesome final battle.


The Gryphon erupts from its lair in one of David Russell’s storyboards for the film.

Elliott and Rossio’s Godzilla mantained the characterization of the Monster as an anti-hero, something acquired in the Showa film series. “We realized that Godzilla was the hero,” Rossio said, “and even if people were afraid of him in the beginning, they wanted to root for him in the end.” Elliott and Rossio originally intended a classic Godzilla foe as the antagonist — King Ghidorah, reportedly. However, TriStar found the costs to acquire rights for another character too expensive, and the idea was discarded in favor of an original villain. “Thematically, [the Gryphon] works a little better than Ghidorah would have,” Elliott added. Various concept artists worked on the project, including Ricardo Delgado and Carlos Huante, to design Godzilla and the various incarnations of the Gryphon, which would be brought to the screen with a combination of practical animatronics and suits and digital effects. Delgado’s intention was to design Godzilla remaining visually close to its earlier incarnations, but at the same time infusing it with “more of a realistic saurian angle” and making a more agile creature. Where the original Godzilla was designed as standing upright, influenced by the conception of bipedal dinosaurs at the time, Delgado’s Godzilla walked with its body and tail parallel to the ground, mirroring the most recent scientific discoveries. “I wanted to create something that was immediately recognizable as Godzilla,” the artist said, “but that was more realistic and life-like than what had been done before.”


Farley’s Godzilla.

At one point, sculptor Jeff Farley was also hired and commissioned to create a Godzilla maquette that could be scanned for a digital sequence test. “I was contacted by a friend at Sony Imageworks,” Farley said, “to sculpt a scannable Godzilla maquette for their bid (and also for a Sony Imageworks cgi test). I was lucky enough to get that job. We only had three days to produce the clay sculpture. It was then packed in dry ice and shipped off to the company that actually made the scan. Even though I never got to see it, I heard that they had The Big G stomping around the MGM Studios.” The design was even more conservative than Delgado’s, and was heavily influenced by the late Heisei Godzilla designs.


The creature effects of the film were assigned to Stan Winston Studio (for the practical effects) and Digital Domain (for the visual effects, after Industrial Light & Magic refused the offer to work on the project). Winston Studio’ main concept artist, Mark ‘Crash’ McCreery, proposed designs for Godzilla, the probe bats and the Gryphon, which were approved by De Bont. Three small scale maquettes portraying the creatures were also sculpted. McCreery’s design, partially based on Delgado’s, mantained several key elements of the japanese designs — but infused the new Godzilla with realistic details and skin texture, based on crocodiles and other reptiles, and returned it to a more upright stance.


The Probe Bat maquette.

In 1994, Sony suffered several economic losses; with an estimated budget of 180 million dollars, and massive visual effects demands, the Godzilla script needed changes and cuts. In late 1994 various production meetings were held to estabilish how to lower the budget and what special effects techniques could be employed to further bring costs down. De Bont left the project shortly after completing the final draft, due to TriStar’s growing budget restrictions, and eventually went on to direct Twister, which starred Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton — two of Godzilla‘s cast choices. Sets were even built for the early attack on Kuril Islands, in order to release a teaser, but actually never used.

Donald MacPherson revised the script again in 1995, but to no avail: Elliott and Rossio’s Godzilla was not to be. When Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin were finally attached to the project in May 1996, they decided to completely rewrite the film, discarding the majority of Elliott and Rossio’s script. Among the few elements to remain was the fact Godzilla’s name was given after a mythological sea dragon. “One day,” Emmerich said, “we actually had the idea of how to do it but it was completely different from what they had. We really liked their script, but it had two creatures and there was a totally different feel to it. So, we approached the studio and said, ‘we would like to rewrite everything. Would you consider that?” TriStar executives approved the proposal — and Emmerich and Devlin thus proceeded to develop their new Godzilla.


For more images of Elliott and Rossio’s Godzilla, visit the Gallery.

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Gallery: Elliott and Rossio’s Godzilla

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July 27, 2014 · 10:57 pm

A Monumental Soundtrack


Having already collaborated with Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin on the scores for StarGate and Independence Day, David Arnold once again returnedworking with the duo to compose Godzilla‘s soundtrack. In the first weeks of principal photography, Arnold arrived in Los Angeles, after completing his latest work — Tomorrow Never Dies. Arnold was immediately introduced to the idea that the film would focus heavily on the creature, and as such so should the score; the only issue was that the creature was not finished yet. He explained in an interview with Dan Goldwasser: “Roland and Dean’s take was that it was all going to be about the creature, but of course we didn’t get to see that until very late in the day. The idea that it was a mutated lizard was neat, but I remember Dean saying to me all the time, ‘wait until you see it! Wait until you see it!’ Of course, you had to wait an awful long time to see it done because none of the effects were done!” To initially prepare himself, Arnold in fact visited the set and looked at Patrick Tatopoulos’ various designs and illustrations of Godzilla.

With the film proceeding towards post-production, Arnold rented a house in Santa Monica, and worked in a room at the Huntley Hotel — the same hotel that had housed him during his work on Emmerich’s precedent film. “We had done Independence Day there,” Arnold explained, “so they knew who I was, and they didn’t mind me coming in with loads of equipment and they knew I wasn’t going to make a lot of noise. There was a mexican restaurant on the top so if I needed to eat any time of day or night I could run up there, and it’s just down the road from Sony, so it wasn’t too bad.”

Assisted in some aspects by orchestrator Nicholas Dodd, Arnold worked two months on the soundtrack — whose complexity was mainly derived from having to write themes for a non-speaking character. The first portions of soundtrack to be completed were some of the key action sequences, small transitions, general underscore, Nick and Audrey’s love theme, as well as the military theme — one of Arnold’s favourite themes, which plays when the army reaches Manhattan. To the composer’s disappointment, it was not used as much as he would have liked to: “I always thought that was a theme I wanted to go back to and use somewhere else,” he said. “It felt really strong to me. I wish the army were more involved, but they’re not really — they become involved in a very secondary way towards the end.” Smaller themes were also written for the French secret agents and Charles Caiman.


When Arnold actually started writing the main theme for Godzilla, shots including the digital creature were not yet finished. He recalled seeing pre-visualizations of the sequences, which felt “like watching LEGO bricks moving around the screen.” Further difficulty was added by the fact Godzilla was not onscreen for a considerable portion of the film. “I found that considering the film was about Godzilla,” Arnold said, “and then for him not to be there for a lot of the time is quite strange. So you would create this sort of thing for it, and then not be able to really use it very much, because he’s not there very much.” He also added: “maybe I was over-thinking it, but you could never have a theme that was as ‘big’ and as ‘terrible’ as the creature itself was supposed to be. And as the creature was never revealed to me until very late in the day, you were kind of guessing.”

The main inspiration for the Godzilla theme finally rose from the film’s opening sequence. Arnold explained: “in a way, the theme for Godzilla came from that instead of the creature itself, because that is what he was born from. So when you hear the music for Godzilla after that, hopefully you will relate to the nature of his conception, which is more to do with intrigue and interest in nuclear weapons. I was quite heartened when I saw the opening title sequence because it hinted at a more intelligent film — it hinted that the film you were about to see was perhaps not what you had necessarily expected — but I’m not sure the film actually ever got to the place that the opening titles kind of promised.”

Godzilla‘s soundtrack was recorded from March to April 1998, at the Sony scoring Stage in Culver City. The 98-piece orchestra, conducted by Dodd, included elements like a large string and brass section, wagner tubas, glockenspiel, cor anglais, as well as a heckelphone and chimasos nicknamed ‘chimpzilla’ by the crew. A large choir was also employed for some of the tracks — including The Beginning.


After the first round of scoring sessions in early March, Emmerich and Devlin ultimately decided to shift the nature of the film towards something more awe-inspiring rather than terrifying. “We’d done a lot of stuff throughout the score that had been playing Godzilla as a kind of frightening creature,” Arnold said, “and something you had to be terrified of, that would be kind of dreadful and terrible to contemplate. Then late in the process, they decided that whenever you saw the creature, rather than be frightened by it, they wanted everyone to be in awe of it. Making this kind of adjustment at a late stage in post-production is not an easy thing to do. rather than it being ‘oh my God it’s so terrifying!’ it had to be ‘oh my God it’s so amazing!’. When you read a page in the script that says it’s the most awesome sight ever, it’s almost like you could never write anything that is awesome enough for how you would like it to be.”

An example of the shift in tone of Godzilla‘s score is the track that plays when Godzilla rises from the ruins of Madison Square Garden. “When he comes out of the ground,” Arnold explained, “it has that big Barry-esque melody, kind of like a romantic, rose-tinted version of what Godzilla was. It wasn’t a terrible creature at all, it was a mother protecting its babies. Prior to that, it was a much more violent and dark frightening cue when it comes out of the ground. But I thought we’d try to build the relationship between Matthew Broderick’s character and the creature, so there’s some resonance, some understanding towards the end. But of course, my argument was, ‘so how come he calls the guys in to kill him at the end?’ There are lots of questions that don’t bear very much analysis I think — after all, it’s only a Godzilla film!” As ultimately finishedthe taxi chase score proved to be one of Arnold’s favourite tracks from the film. Percussionists Mike Fisher and Robert Zimmitti recorded sample sounds with particular focus on pulsing and high metallic thrusting. Arnold commented: “I knew it was going to be a really noisy cue, and there wasn’t going to be much that you could hear out of this other than this sort of urgent anxious metallic chattering of the percussion loops, and that brass roar — because you had Godzilla, and rain, and thunder, and car engines, and ultimately machine gun fire, and helicopters and jets. All the things that are the enemies of the composer!”

Arnold also wrote and recorded so-called ‘toolbox’ cues, extra tracks that could be easily edited into the film to satisfy the evolving demands of post-production. “It’s something we discovered that was kind of useful when we did StarGate,” Arnold said. “We recorded elements of the orchestra, in case they wanted them for effects or transitions, so that if something happened in post, we had something recorded that might smooth things out. So as I was writing the score for the film, I was actually pulling out bits and harmonics for wild tracks. Low tones, pitches, and other stuff — it’s almost as though you were making a sampler.” The toolbox cues were again recorded with the orchestra and choir.

Examples of those cues include the scene in the subway ruins — when Godzilla walks towards Victor — and, for the most part, during the Baby Godzilla sequence. Only portions of Arnold’s original cue were featured in the final cut of the film, mainly due to the editing of the visual effects shots. Arnold commented: “it’s always the same with big movies. When visual effects come in, you’ll find that they lengthen or shorten shots — and these sequences are fairly tightly scored. They’re timed pretty tight, so when things happen, they happen in sync with the pictures that are in front of you. And that’s one of the most distressing elements of it — you spend so much time making it stick to the picture, and then you go see the movie and it’s all changed and the beats are out of place, and things that made the whole thing breathe. But that’s the nature of it — you can’t become that wedded to it, because you’re going to be a victim of these things, and that’s part of the process! The process is that you deliver the music to them and keep your fingers crossed that it’s going to be treated with some sensitivity and try to keep the spirit of it as much as you can.”

Godzilla was the last film to feature a coordinated effort of Emmerich, Devlin and Arnold. Emmerich’s following film, The Patriot, was scored by John Williams, and the director’s later films would for the most part feature the work of Harald Kloser. “Something definitely changed after Godzilla,” Arnold said. “I think it was this general sense that perhaps this particular group had done as much as they could, and I felt that Roland wanted a fresh sense of everything on The Patriot. It might just have been one of those things where we hit the point that we felt we should do things with other people.”

Despite this fact, Arnold  was highly satisfied of his work on Godzilla, and remains open to collaborating with Emmerich and Devlin again. He said: “I can’t speak highly enough of them. We had a great time, I think we did some great stuff, and I’d certainly work with either of them again on the right sort of thing. I think they’re both very talented in their own ways, and more importantly to me, some of the nicest people I’ve met in the industry. They were lovely people, and still are lovely people, and I have a huge amount of respect for them.”


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Godzilla 2 Script Treatment by Tab Murphy


When TriStar bought the character rights to Godzilla in 1992, their original plan was to produce a trilogy of films, without a specifically set out arc. One year after the release of their Godzilla, Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin hired Tab Murphy — who would later write films such as Disney’s Tarzan and Atlantis: The Lost Empire — to write a story treatment for a sequel to the film. A treatment precedes even the first draft of a script, meaning that the text not necessarily reproduces the final film. The text was completed the 19th of October, 1999 — but with the film fallen in production hell, it was not developed into a script. TriStar’s rights to Godzilla expired in 2003, declaring the final sentence on Godzilla 2.

G  O  D  Z  I  L  L  A     2


Godzilla is dead. Much of Manhattan lays in ruins. Teams of soldiers continue to scour the creature’s underground burrows, searching for any remaining eggs or BabyZillas. Life in New York is slowly returning to normal…

NICK TATOPOULOS is invited to a warehouse where scientists from all over the world are examining Godzilla’s dissected body parts. The scientists’ excitement is lost on Nick who feels increasingly distraught over the part he played in helping to destroy such a unique and intelligent lifeform. He’s haunted by memories of the final look in Godzilla’s eyes just before it expired. And when he witnesses half a dozen scientists crawling over one of those extracted dead eyeballs it’s more than he can handle. He makes a quick and brusque exit after turning down an opportunity to head up the research project.

Tortured by guilt, Nick sneaks past police barricades into the Manhattan underground to begin a search of his own, hoping against hope to discover some remnant of the now extinct species. His hopes are rewarded when he discovers one last BabyZilla, trapped under some rubble and near death! Nick is able to free the BabyZilla, while avoiding its jaws and claws. Although physically unhurt, the BabyZilla is weak from starvation and will die if something isn’t done.

Later, the butcher at a local fish market watches in astonishment as Nick buys every last piece from his display case!

Back in he devastated subway tunnel, Nick feeds the BabyZilla and begins a relationship of trust and mutual respect that will resonate throughout the rest of the film. VOICES suddenly echo from down the tunnel! A dozen flashlight beams sign an approaching squad of soldiers! Nick realizes the BabyZilla will be shot on sight if found by the soldiers. Using the remaining fish as bait, Nick lures the BabyZilla away. The pair manage to reach the surface without being detected. In the meantime, the BabyZilla has come to believe Nick is its mother (imprinting), following him everywhere like a lovesick puppy. When another squad of soldiers approaches, Nick shrouds the BabyZilla in a long overcoat and shepherds it down to the waterfront. At one point a bum accosts the pair, unwittingly begging for spare change from the BabyZilla. The bum’s bloodshot eyes bulge when his extended hand is snapped at by the BabyZilla! The bum’s terrified screams bring the soldiers running! Realizing they’re about to be discovered, Nick tries to get the BabyZilla to enter the water and strike off on its own. At first, it refuses to leave its ‘mother’. Nick is forced to use ‘tough love’. He pushes the baby away, screams in anger, even throws rocks at it. Heartbroken, the BabyZilla finally slips into the cold water and swims off into the murky depths with mixed emotions…


G  O  D  Z  I  L  L  A   2


Two years later…

A series of strange and inexplicable events have begun occurring around the world. A cruise ship is found adrift off Australia with nary a soul on board. The entire population of a village on Fiji has literally vanished without a trace, the village itself destroyed. An Indonesian jumbo jet is sliced in half at thirty eight thousand feet. At the crash site, no bodies are found. A Global Task Force is formed to investigate, headed by none other than GENERAL HICKS.

A strange giant egg is discovered in a downtown park of a medium-sized town in New England. When word reaches Hicks of the discovery, he sends in a task force to investigate. The investigators reach the town only to discover it destroyed and its inhabitants vanished without a trace! In the center of town, remnants of the hatched eggs are found. The investigators conclude that somehow, some way, a Godzilla is responsible. The nightmare has begun again. General Hicks immediately puts out an APB on Godzilla expert Nick Tatopoulos.

Wedding bells chime outside a small church in Vermont. Nick and Audrey have finally tied the knot. We see that Nick is more or less resigned to his fate. The pair make their way to a waiting limo, showered by handfuls of rice. Nick climbs inside the limo. When Audrey turns to wave at the crowd at the crowd one last time, the door to the limo suddenly closes and all the doors lock, trapping Nick inside! The limo speeds away from the stunned crowd and Nick’s equally stunned bride! (Note: this is the first and last we see of Audrey). When Nick shouts for an explanation, the driver turns out to be the Frenchman PHILLIPE ROACHE! He apologizes for the abrupt departure, hands Nick a classified folder detailing the strange events occurring around the world. He reveals that he’s working for General Hicks and the Global Task Force who are convinced that Godzilla is responsible. Nick insists that even if Godzilla had survived, it couldn’t possibly be responsible for the weird events occurring around the world. There are too many inconsistencies. But Phillipe is determined to find out one way or another. And should a Godzilla prove to be alive – “It must be destroyed once and for all.” Phillipe stops the car and turns to Nick. “I need your help.” Nick finally agrees to help Phillipe in his search – but for very different reasons.

Restricting their search to the Southern Hemisphere because of climate, ocean currents and the relative proximity of the unexplainable events. Nick and Phillipe determine that the only land mass big enough to support a creature of Godzilla’s size without fear of detection is Australia. That is where they target their search. Deep in the Australian Outback, Nick and Phillipe cross paths with a beautiful and rugged no-nonsense female biologist (ANNA CHARLTON) who claims to be doing research on Dingoes. She asks what they’re doing in the middle of nowhere. Phillipe nods toward Nick: “He’s on his honeymoon.” Anna takes an immediate dislike to the pair, especially Nick. Her answers to their questions are curt and brusque. No, she’s not seen nor heard anything strange or unusual. She asks them to leave and not disturb her research area. Before they depart, Phillipe slips a tracking device into the back of her jeep. Both Nick and Phillipe are convinced she’s hiding something.

Later, they trail her jeep further into the rugged Outback where they lose her, when their own vehicle breaks down. Stranded in the middle of nowhere, arguing, they both suddenly hear a familiar bone chilling ROAR. Grabbing their gear, they race up a nearby bluff and come face to face with – GODZILLA, now full grown! Hiding in the bushes to avoid detection, Nick and Phillipe are even more stunned to discover Godzilla is not alone – the creature has given birth to a brood of young (TeenZillas!), each nearly three stories high! As Godzilla and its brood stomp into full view, a pack of Dingoes suddenly attack a straggler we will come to know as the RUNT of the litter. Smaller and weaker than the others, the Runt cries out for help as the Dingoes swarm! Godzilla ROARS! The rest of its young spook! While Godzilla defends the Runt from the hungry pack, Nick and Phillipe find themselves directly in the path of a Godzilla Stampede! Just when we think they’re dead meat, a jeep pulls up and Anna scream for them to “GET IN!!” What follows is a hair-raising rollercoaster ride with Anna swerving inbetween the giant tree trunk legs of the stampeding TeenZillas, miraculously avoiding getting squashed, while Nick and Phillipe cling to their seats for dear life! Eventually, Anna is able to swerve out of harm’s way just as Godzilla comes on the scene carrying the Runt on its tail! As calm returns and Godzilla and its brood continues to forage, Anna turns to the astonished Nick and Phillipe: “Okay, so maybe I have seen something a little unusual.”


Phillipe makes for the radio in Anna’s jeep in an attempt to contact General Hicks. Nick pleads with him to wait. They argue. A shot suddenly rings out! The radio shatters! Phillipe and Nick turn to find Anna holding a gun on the pair! Anna reveals that she stumbled upon Godzilla over a year ago and has since dedicated herself to studying and protecting the creature with an almost militant determination. She remains hostile towards the pair, especially Nick. Nick tries to convince her that as a fellow scientist, he wants to help preserve the species not destroy it. He tells Anna he’s come to prove that Godzilla and its brood are not responsible for the marauding attacks in the vicinity. But Anna refuses to believe him. She recognizes Nick as the person responsible for the first Godzilla’s death. Nick has no choice but to come clean. He finally reveals the secret he’s kept from Phillipe, that he rescued a BabyZilla in New York two years before and helped it escape – the same full grown Godzilla that is now running loose with a brood of its own! Phillipe is speechless! He can’t believe that Nick would allow one of the creatures to survive, especially knowing how rapidly they multiply. Phillipe is determined to carry out his threat of alerting General Hicks. Nick suddenly ducks behind the wheel of Anna’s jeep and roars away! Realizing he has to do something drastic in order to win Anna’s trust and prove to Phillipe that Godzilla is essentially harmless, Nick swerves the vehicle and drives straight for the towering fifty story creature! Phillipe and Anna watch in horror as Nick drives right up to Godzilla! A ROAR from Godzilla shatters every window in the jeep! Nick hops out and stands before the giant behemoth! Godzilla raises a foot, ready flatten Nick like a pancake when it suddenly stops short. Something about this particular human is familiar. In a touching scene, Godzilla recognizes its ‘mother’ and nuzzles Nick affectionately, much to the utter astonishment of Phillipe and Anna! Nick turns yells to the pair- “You see? He’s really very gentle!” At that moment, Godzilla delivers a ‘welcome home’ ROAR that knocks Nick off his feet!

Sydney, Australia. Another giant egg larva is discovered on the outskirts of the city. General Hicks mobilizes his troops and heads Down Under. Another disturbing message arrives. There’s been no word from Phillipe or Nick for some time. They seem to have vanished without a trace…

In the Outback, Nick has a new problem: Godzilla follows him everywhere! And wherever Godzilla goes, its babies are sure to follow. This makes for some amusing situations, especially when Godzilla insists on sleeping beside Nick! Having won Anna’s trust, Nick invites her to study the ‘Zillas up close and personal. She shares some of her findings with Nick, including the fact that a full-grown Godzilla is capable of reproducing only once, and that the size of the brood is determined by carrying capacity of the land. Nick wrestles with his blossoming attraction for Anna. After all, technically he’s a married man (Nick’s attempts at contacting his new wife and explaining his whereabouts are continually met with her screaming at him and hanging up!). During this period, Nick tries to convince Phillipe that Godzilla is docile and nonagressive creature that attacks only when its young are threatened. All three are amazed at the tenderness Godzilla shows its young, especially to the Runt. Nick and Anna are certain they’re witnessing the birth of a new natural order, that Godzilla is the next step in an evolutionary process accelerated by the nuclear testing fallout. Phillipe is beginning to come around, to believe that perhaps there is a place in the world for Godzilla after all.

But when Godzilla suddenly steals away one night leaving its sleeping brood, Phillipe once again becomes suspicious. The three follow Godzilla in Anna’s jeep some twenty miles to the deserted North Coast where they watch the giant creature disappear into the ocean. Nick is heartsick. Is it possible Godzilla has been making the various raids in order to feed its brood? Are the ‘Zillas being fed a steady diet of human captives? If so, then there would be no choice left but to destroy them. Suddenly, the ocean is lit up from beneath by bizarre flashes of lights (this is actually the first clue we have that Godzilla can breathe fire). Schools of tuna swarm to the surface! Godzilla explodes out of the water, forcing hundreds upon hundreds of the fish onto the beach! Nick, Anna, and Phillipe watch the amazing spectacle as Godzilla continues to herd schools of tuna onto the beach! As dawn approaches, another incredible sight greets them – Godzilla’s brood appears on the horizon! Descending on the beach, the hungry ‘Zillas begin gorging on the stranded fish! Nick now has the proof he’s come after. Even Phillipe has to admit he was wrong, that Godzilla is not responsible for the other attacks. But if not Godzilla, then who?? Or better yet, what? In order to answer than question, the trios decide to take a little trip…

Monster Island. Godzilla’s birthplace. Following Godzilla’s death, a clean sweep of the island produced no other biological anomalies. For two years the island has been off limits to visitors, its water heavily patrolled by U.N. warships. Approaching the island Nick, Anna, and Phillipe don wet suits and scuba gear in an effort to slip past the blockade. Swimming toward the island, the three are suddenly engulfed by a giant shadow and are stunned to witness a blue whale three times its normal size glide silently past!

On the island itself, more strange discoveries await – a plethora of new species, some mutated beyond recognition! Even so, there’s nothing on the island that seems capable of kind of destruction being reported around the world. Suddenly, the skies above them darken. A strange buzzing sound fills the air. What seems to be an approaching dark cloud turns out to be a huge swarm of mutated winged insects equipped with vicious mandibles and deadly wasp like stingers! The Buick-sized insects appear to be carrying something wrapped in their six spiny legs. Nick, Anna, and Phillipe watch in horror as the insectoids land and release their human captives!

When one man tried to escape he is immediately set upon and stung to death! Meanwhile, wingless termite-like insects swarm out of an underground next and herd the human captives underground. Nick, Phillipe, and Anna prepare to follow. Suddenly, HORRIBLE SCREAMS emanate from the entrance to the underground nest! One by one they die out until an eerie silence is all that remains. And just when things can’t get any worse, the QUEEN BITCH emerges from the opening; a HUGE and ferocious-looking winged insectoid that the other insects flock around, tending to her every need. She is one nasty bug (and not above dining on her own kind!) As Nick, Anna, and Philippe look on, the Queen takes flight and disappears out over the ocean, heading for God-knows-where. A horrible realization sinks in. People are being abducted from around the world and brought to Monster Island to be used as food by these horrible insectoids. Nick and Anna conclude that Godzilla and its brood are the natural predators of these bugs. But because of man’s interference, the natural food chain (?) on Monster Island has been disrupted. With no controls through natural predation (aka Godzilla), these insectoids will continue to multiply and spread, threatening the entire world! Somehow, Godzilla and its brood must be led back to Monster Island in order to bring the insectoids under control and reestablish order and harmony in the food chain.

Phillipe suddenly becomes extremely agitated, insisting they return to the Outback at once. Nick and Anna are perplexed by their friend’s strange behavior. Phillipe tells them that Godzilla and its brood are in grave danger. The truth finally comes out. Philippe has tipped of General Hicks and the Global Task Force as to Godzilla’s whereabouts! Nick and Anna are stunned! Why would he do such a thing?? Phillipe reveals he was frightened by the number of ‘Zillas they encountered. Ironically, he had nightmarish visions of Godzillas taking over the world which is what prompted his actions. Nick feels betrayed. He and Phillipe fight. Anna breaks it up. She tells them to settle it later. Time may be running out for Godzilla…and the world.

But they’re too late…Nick, Anna, and Philippe return to a scene of agonizing devastation. ‘Zillas lie dead everywhere! The countryside is rutted and pockmarked from explosions. The surprise attack by the Global Task Force has come from ground and air. General Hicks and his troops are advancing on Godzilla and one last baby (the Runt) when Nick, Anna, and Philippe arrive on the scene. Nick races past the troops and missile launchers out toward Godzilla and the Runt, causing Hicks to call a cease-fire. Nick looks around at the carnage, at the valiant fight Godzilla put up to save its babies. With tears in his eyes, Nick turns helplessly to Godzilla: “I’m sorry…” The look in Godzilla’s eyes is one of heartbreak and betrayal. It ROARS in anguish before suddenly burrowing underground and escaping with the Runt. Nick stands alone amidst the devastation, feeling sick… Meanwhile, Phillipe is congratulated by General Hicks. But Phillipe tells the General they’ve made a terrible mistake. By killing the ‘Zillas, they may have just doomed the rest of the world. Before General Hicks can respond, he receives a message from Sydney: something bizarre is occurring to the giant egg larva…


Near downtown Sydney, a huge greenhouse-like enclosure has been built around the larval egg, giving scientists an opportunity to study the strange phenomenon in a controlled environment. Tanks and missile launchers surround the enclosure as a protective measure against whatever might hatch from the egg. The surrounding downtown area has been evacuated. Nick realizes egg was laid by the Queen and is the first step in what will eventually lead to a worldwide spread of the deadly insectoids. He pleads with General Hicks to destroy it. While the pair argue, the Queen Bitch makes a sudden appearance, intent on protecting her egg! She quickly lays waste to Hick’s troops garrison! While Nick, Anna, and Phillipe run for cover, a familiar figure suddenly bursts up through the pavement – GODZILLA! And there, hanging onto Godzilla’s tail, the Runt! Godzilla goes up against the Queen Bitch in a spectacular pitched battle throughout downtown Sydney! At one point, Godzilla takes a nasty sting in the throat that temporarily paralyzes it. The Runt goes to help but it immediately set upon by the vicious Queen! Without hesitation, Anna races forward to aid the Runt! But the queen succeeds in killing the baby and grabbing up Anna, much to Nick’s horror! Godzilla comes to and see its dead baby. It roars in anguish before turning on the Queen’s egg larva and torching it with a burst of atomic fire breath!! Wow… The Queen Bitch screams in rage and takes wing, Anna struggling in its spiny clutches! Nick, Phillipe, and Hicks watch as Godzilla dives into the ocean, head for Monster Island and a final showdown with the Queen Bitch…

Nick and Phillipe put aside their differences in order to go after Anna. General Hicks organizes a military rescue, led by a squadron of jet fighters. He jumps into an Apache chopper together with Nick and Phillipe. As the chopper lifts off, Hicks remembers to give Nick a note he’s been carrying. Nick reads it and his face drops even further. “Bad news?” Asks Phillipe. “I’m not sure,” Nick responds, handing Phillipe the note. His marriage has been annulled…

On approach to Monster Island, they are attacked by a swarm of the mutated insectoids! A spectacular battle in the sky follows as the jet fighters take on the insects! But the insect numbers prove to be overpowering. The battle ends with every jet down and the Apache chopper crash landing on the island just as Godzilla wades ashore to take up the attack! Nick, Phillipe and Hicks scramble from the wreckage of the downed chopper as all hell breaks loose! Godzilla is under assault from the flying insectoids above and the wingless termite-like bugs on the ground! Bursts of atomic fire breath incinerate everything within range! While Hicks awaits reinforcements, Nick and Phillipe make their way into the maze of deserted underground passageways in search of Anna. The pair stumble upon an enormous underground chamber where hundreds of half-starved human prisoners are being guarded by a handful of wingless insectoids. Using incinerator grenades, Nick and Phillipe manage to kill the insect guards. Nick and Anna embrace in an emotional reunion.

Phillipe, Nick, and Anna begin to lead the others topside when the Queen Bitch suddenly appears, blocking their way and trapping them inside the underground chamber! The Queen Bitch advances and is about to devour Nick or lunch when Godzilla suddenly burrows through the cavern wall! Godzilla and the Queen Bitch square off for one final Giant Monster Battle! Nick, Anna, and Phillipe lead the captive people topside as the fight progresses above ground! This time, Godzilla is the victor, vanquishing the Queen Bitch and bring natural order back to the Monster Island ecosystem. General Hicks’ reinforcement suddenly arrive. They line up their big guns to take out Godzilla once and for all. Godzilla is all but defenseless, spent and exhausted from his battle with the Queen Bitch. Nick, Anna are so enraged that Hicks order them put under protective custody. All appears lost. Believing he’s doing the right thing for humanity, General Hicks is about to give the order to fire when an extraordinary thing occurs – the hundreds of people that have been set free form a protective circle around Godzilla! And there leading the blockade is none other Phillipe! And in that moment, General Hicks realizes pulling the trigger on Godzilla would be the wrong thing to do. He orders his troops to withdraw. LOUD CHEERS go up from the people that Godzilla helped set free! Suddenly, a new sound reaches everyone’s ears. Just then, another Godzilla wades onto the shores of Monster Island, calling for its mother! The Runt wasn’t killed after all! The sight of its baby revives Godzilla and the pair have a touching reunion.

Later, against a brilliant sunset, Nick, Anna, and Phillipe say goodbye to Godzilla and the Runt as the pair return to the ocean…


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Zilla Controversy: Name, Continuity and more


The Zilla digital model, developed for Godzilla: Final Wars.

Despite being influential to the subsequent Godzilla films (collectively labeled as the Millennium series) in one way or the other, Emmerich’s Godzilla was the object of inside-jokes or parodies in some of the films. The first example, arguably, is a simple inside-joke featured in Shusuke Kaneko’s Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack! (2001). In the beginning of the film, during a briefing regarding Godzilla’s return, it is mentioned that a Monster attacked New York in 1998 — initially believed to be Godzilla. One of the characters promptly debunks the suggestion, saying that “they say so in America; but not in Japan.” The line in the english dub is similar: “that’s what the American experts say, but our experts here have doubts.”

The most famous mockery of Godzilla would be presented three years afterwards: in occasion of Godzilla’s 50th anniversary in 2004, TOHO produced Godzilla: Final Wars. Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura, the celebratory film featured a total of 13 TOHO Monsters, besides Godzilla and his son Minilla. Included in this rogues gallery  is a new character introduced in the film, called Zilla (in japanese ジラ, Jira) — a creature of unknown origins that is employed by the Xiliens (the alien antagonists of the film) to attack Sydney. In an attempt to parody the American remake, the creature is defeated in less than 13 seconds — marking the shortest battle in the Godzilla series’ long history. In the original Japanese version of the film, the Xilien controller utters “I knew that tuna-eating lizard was useless”; the line was changed in the american dub: “I knew that tuna-head wasn’t up to much.”


Concept art of the Zilla fight sequence.

Zilla was — intentionally — the only Monster of the film to be brought to the screen solely with the use of computer-generated effects. The digital model of the creature was initially obtained with a scan of Trendmasters’ ‘Ultimate’ Godzilla figure — part of the toyline dedicated to the 1998 film — which was then refined to create the final design. This peculiarity among the other characters of Godzilla: Final Wars criticized the American remake’s extensive use of digital effects (despite the also considerable employment of practical effects). Kitamura was notoriously quoted as saying that the American remake “took the ‘God’ out of Godzilla.”

Since the release of Final Wars, the belief that the American Godzilla was actually renamed Zilla underwent a rapid diffusion, both via the film itself and popular video reviews. For all intents and purpose, however, this fact is incorrect. In 1998, Sony Pictures acquired rights to make the film, and still owns the international film rights. In 2005, TriStar exploited the release of Peter Jackson’s King Kong to launch a new DVD release of Godzilla — labeled commercially as the ‘Monster Edition’. The copyright disclaimers on the back cover assert the following statement:

“GODZILLA and the GODZILLA character and design are marks of Toho Co., Ltd. The GODZILLA character and design are copyrighted works of Toho Co., Ltd. All are used with permission.” [sic]

TOHO is also known for its ‘Monster logos’, which are printed on the cover of many of their home video releases, as well as products related to their characters; with the release of the American remake, the new Godzilla received its own logo, as did Zilla when Final Wars was released. The 2007 limited edition release of Godzilla‘s soundtrack by La-La Land Records not only mantained the same copyright disclaimers, but also another appearence of Godzilla’s own logo.


Godzilla’s logo (on the back cover of Starlog’s Godzilla: The Official Poster Magazine)…


…and its return, 9 years later, in La-La Land Records’ release of the film’s soundtrack.

In 2009, TriStar released Godzilla in Blu-ray — whose back cover again presented the same copyright claims:


The back cover of the British release of the Godzilla Blu-ray.

In 2014, Godzilla was released in a 4K mastered Blu-ray format, still mantaining the precedent claims; additionally, both as a celebration of the character’s 6oth anniversary and as a tie-in to the release of Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla, TOHO released the entirety of the Godzilla films in Blu-Ray — including a reissue of the 1998 film. Despite numerous claims, none of the releases of both the film and material related to it display copyright claims or logos mentioning Zilla, further debunking the false fact that the American Godzilla’s name was in any way changed.


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An Introduction


Welcome to The Making of Godzilla, Monster Legacy‘s Satellite Blog entirely dedicated to the 1998 Godzilla and the process of how it was brought to the screen.

Much discussed and often deemed controversial, Godzilla is an interesting case study — with many parts of its history still unknown to most. The purpose of this Satellite Blog is to bring as much information as possible on the production process of the film, from its script to its soundtrack — with a wide array of quotes from its creators, as well as stunning behind-the-scenes stills.

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Filed under Miscellaneous