(at around 49 mins) Godzilla wasn't supposed to have his atomic breath at all in this movie until an outraged fan poll demanded it. A scene was later filmed and animated where Godzilla could breathe fire. This caused even more outrage.
In a television interview, Matthew Broderick said that the entire cast were given wet suits to wear underneath their costumes while filming in Hawaii. He was upset because his wet suit zipped up in the back, which made it difficult to put on every day. One day during a break in filming, he was talking with co-star Hank Azaria, who had his shirt off, revealing a wet suit that zipped up in front. Broderick remarked, "Oh, your wet suit zips up in front." Puzzled, Azaria replied, "They ALL zip up in front." Broderick had been putting his wet suit on backward every day.
Despite the less-than-expected box office performance, this film still made more money worldwide than any other American movie based on a foreign film. It held this record until Godzilla (2014) claimed it 16 years later, although accounting for inflation, this movie still made more.
(at around 29 mins) Before Hank Azaria's character runs atop cars to get footage of Godzilla, he looks up and says "Aw, Jeez", using the voice of his character Moe Szyslak on The Simpsons (1989). When asked about this during a podcast, Azaria said it was unintentional and that a little bit of his Moe voice must have "slipped through".
The film created quite a backlash among the fan base of the original series. The fans conceived a nickname to distinguish this film from the original: G.I.N.O., which is an acronym for "Godzilla in Name Only," indicating their dislike for it.
This Godzilla is part of the official Gojira mythos, renamed Zilla in Japan. It appeared in the movie Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), as one of Godzilla's enemies. This decision has caused great confusion among fans and especially laypeople: is Zilla the new name of this movie's monster, or is Zilla merely a parody of it? And is it a separate character from the original Godzilla? Toho studios have stated multiple times that they consider this movie's rendition Godzilla, not a separate monster. Even the official monster icon on the Japanese home media release clearly labels the creature as "Godzilla", not "Zilla". As such, it technically counts as Godzilla. However, Toho have also said that any post-2004 depiction of the monster must be called Zilla instead of Godzilla. Thus, in a way, it can be said that they both are and aren't the same monster.
The film's first teaser trailer began appearing in theater a full year before the film was released. The trailer contained a shot of Godzilla's foot coming through the roof of a museum and crushing a T-Rex skeleton. This scene was cut from the final version of the movie. It cost $600,000.
The extra killed in his car when Godzilla first arrives in Manhattan was cast as a look-alike for J.D. Lees, editor of G-Fan magazine, because he cast disparaging remarks about the information that leaked out about the film prior to its release.
Mayor Ebert and his assistant Gene are spoofs of the late film critics Roger Ebert and his partner Gene Siskel (who would pass away less than a year after the film's release). This is in response to the duo giving negative reviews to Emmerich and Devlin's earlier films Stargate (1994) and Independence Day (1996). The film also co-opted the duo's trademarked "Thumbs Up" gesture from their various television shows by depicting Mayor Ebert's campaign as "Thumbs Up for New York!" and Gene later disapproving of his decision to exploit the disaster by giving him a thumbs down. When the actual Siskel and Ebert reviewed the film on their show, it received two thumbs down and Gene Siskel commented on being spoofed in the film; he said it was "petty" and asked the filmmakers "if you're going to go through the trouble of putting us in a monster movie, why don't you at least take advantage of having the monster either eat or squash us". The duo would later name the film as one of their worst films of 1998.
This movie features more Simpson voice actors than any other project besides The Simpsons (1989) itself: Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer and Nancy Cartwright. The Simpsons and its creators are huge Godzilla fans and Godzilla, and his roar is used quite frequently in the show.
Dean Devlin maintains that the tag-line for this movie, "Size Does Matter," was meant simply to differentiate the movie from Jurassic Park (1993) - hence the original "museum" trailer - but that the advertisers for the studio took it too far with their over-zealous campaign (e.g. "His foot is as long as this bus"). The ads became the biggest focus of the backlash against the movie. Most notable was a temporary page set up by the programmers for the website of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) that mocked the "Godzilla" green glow and read "Plot Does Matter." However, when The Phantom Menace was released, Star Wars fans mocked George Lucas for making a Star Wars film where plot did not seem to matter as much as special effects. Another backlash came from Spielberg's DreamWorks trailer for Small Soldiers (1998), featuring a giant lizard being hog-tied by a group of action figures. This trailer has the tag-line, "Size doesn't matter."
Although often called a box-office bomb in America and also known to have under-performed in other places as well, the movie was highly successful and profitable in a lot of international markets, which helped it become the third highest-grossing movie of 1998. In some countries where the Japanese Godzilla franchise is unknown due to those movie not having been released there, it is still regarded as a classic monster movie. And while the monster has famously been renamed to Zilla due to bearing little to no resemblance to the original Godzilla, and is commonly bashed by American and Japanese Godzilla fans alike, it is actually the default and by far the best recognized depiction of Godzilla in other countries, whereas the original Godzilla character is seen as inferior and laughable.
Fruit of the Loom lost their license to sell any Godzilla-related apparel when they leaked images of Godzilla on the Internet in November of 1997. What Fruit of the Loom didn't know was that the images they were given were unique fakes released by the studio as part of an effort to see which companies they could trust to not leak images to the public, as the studio intended to keep Godzilla's appearance a secret until the film opened.
An animated series called Godzilla: The Series (1998) was made which continued the storyline of the film. In the series, Tatopoulos accidentally discovers the egg that survived the destruction of the nest. The creature hatches and imprints on Nick as its parent.
The original script and Godzilla design were going to be very different to what had made it into the film. The script had Godzilla as a reptilian monster that had hibernated for thousands of years, which upon its awakening encountered and fought a shape-shifting alien monster, which was called "The Gryphon" during production. Both creatures were designed by Stan Winston and the film was to be directed by Jan de Bont. At the withdrawal of De Bont (that in the end went to direct Twister (1996)) because of budget constraints, Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin were hired, changing the script to adapt it more to the budget the studio had offered for the film.
When this modern remake was first conceived in 1990, James Cameron was originally offered the chance to direct. When he passed, Tim Burton was connected for a few years, with Joe Johnston's name bandied about for some time also. Paul Verhoeven was going to direct but he passed on the project. Then Jan de Bont was attached and set to direct, but his budget for the film, estimated at $150 million, was higher than the studio was willing to pay. After he was let go, Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin came in.
Many people believe that the failure of this movie single-handedly ruined the giant monster genre for several years, but another reimagining of a classic creature-feature that came out the same year, Mighty Joe Young (1998), bombed much worse and made American audiences turn away from the genre. Many foreign markets, where the movie actually was a success, continued fruitlessly waiting for the never-produced sequel, confused as to why none ever came.
At the 1998 Golden Raspberry Awards, the film was nominated for five Razzies, including Worst Picture, Worst Director and Worst Screenplay. It took home two overall for Maria Pitillo as Worst Supporting Actress and for the film as Worst Remake or Sequel.
Tôhô Co. Ltd., the Japanese film studio that owns the rights to Godzilla agreed to allow an American version to be made, but only if the US studio followed a set of guidelines in order for the film to properly "capture the spirit of Godzilla"; both Script and Creature Design were immediately approved and, according to Patrick Tatopoulos in the making of Book of the film, the members of Tôhô Co. Ltd. were impressed with his sketches of the final design.
In response to the backlash against the movie and Japanese audiences being offended over the American reimagining of "their" monster, Toho spokesman Masahiko Suzuki deemed their reaction hypocritical, reasoning that prior to the movie's release, Japanese people had lambasted the original Godzilla movies as well.
Dean Devlin accepted blame for the film's perceived shortcomings in a 2011 interview by saying that when the budget was suddenly increased and the production aspects were expanded, he became so overwhelmed with his duties as a producer that he neglected to refine parts of script he had always intended to update.
An action-figure line was produced to coincide with the movie's release by a company called Trendmasters, who have previously released toys based on the classic Godzilla movies. The merchandise originally sold well, though consumer interest quickly dropped once the movie hit theaters, and shops were left with an overstock of unwanted toys. Due to this, stores cancelled their orders of Trendmasters upcoming Godzilla toy-line, based on the Godzilla: The Series (1998) cartoon, which eventually drove the company to bankruptcy.
In the earlier drafts, the monster had a power called "Power Breath", the ability to blow away almost everything with a single breath. Due to an outcry from the fans, who wanted it to have Godzilla's trademark atomic breath, this was changed to a sort of combustible gas that the creature could release from its mouth, which ignited in air to mimic the original's famous atomic breath attack.
Co-writer and producer Dean Devlin admitted to "screwing up" Godzilla in a 2012 interview, where he claimed he had been a fan of the character since childhood. In a 2014 interview, he said that the script's two biggest faults were that Godzilla wasn't handled as a character but a mere animal, and that the backstories of the human characters were explained too late in the movie, by which time the viewers had already made up their minds about them. Nevertheless, though accepting the blame for the script's faults, he thinks that the hate against the movie had been blown out of proportion.
Dean Devlin aggressively defended the movie on internet message boards, at times telling the Godzilla fans "to hell with you" if they had a negative opinion over it. The official Godzilla message board was shut down soon thereafter due to all the heated arguing. Years later, Devlin has admitted to recognizing the movie's faults and apologized to the fans in various interviews.
The movie was envisioned as the first installment of a trilogy, with the Japanese Godzilla movies by the Toho studio put on hold until 2005, by which time the American trilogy produced by Sony was expected to have been completed. The failure of this movie caused both companies to radically rethink their plans. Sony for a while toyed with the idea of a total reboot with a redesigned Godzilla. Toho meanwhile produced the low-budget Godzilla 2000 (1999) in an effort to bring the "real" Godzilla back to screens, and the movie was subsequently released in the United States as well to prepare audiences for the American reboot. Unfortunately, Godzilla had so little marquee value by then that Sony scrapped the idea of their reboot and Toho continued churning out further low-budget Godzilla titles on a yearly basis, which lead to even Japanese moviegoers tiring of the character. Thus, in 2004, the franchise was put on a 10 year hiatus.
On the original home video release in Japan, circa 1994, there is a trailer for the upcoming "all new American Godzilla." It offers some insight into what this version of the Godzilla movie might have been, before the massive changes TriStar made. Using full English text and voiceovers, "the all new American Godzilla" was listed as from "the makers of Disney's Aladdin" and featuring "ground-breaking special effects."
Roland Emmerich was hired in early 1996 because he promised to direct the film on a budget of less than $100 million, which was much less than the budget previous prospective directors had demanded. However, after the prominence Emmerich achieved after the box office success of Independence Day (1996), the budget was eventually increased to $130 million.
Patrick Tatopoulos, who designed the new Godzilla, states that the creature design mixes elements of various reptiles; also, he wanted the creature to be imposing and to inspire respect. To achieve that, he was inspired from the character Shere-Kan featured in The Jungle Book (1967); the tiger had a noticeable chin and Tatopoulos applied this characteristic on his design, taking the appearance of it from what he refers to be a "Selfin Dragon." He also gave the creature humanoid shoulders and hands, very similar to the features included in the original design.
The movie was so successful and well-received in certain foreign markets that it might have directly contributed to the second American re-imagining of the franchise, Godzilla (2014), performing poorly in these countries, both box-office wise and critically. As well, the movie received a burst of popularity among its fans or those who have been disappointed with the 2014 reboot. Nevertheless, the latter was still overall the more successful of the two, especially with movie critics.
The monster originally would have had the ability to change its color like a chameleon. Though the idea was scrapped, hints of the concept survive in the finished film in which the monster's exact hue does vary depending on the scene's lighting.
(at around 1h 55 mins) When the soldiers search the log for cab MN 44's frequency we see that the driver of cab MN 43 is named Len Wiseman. Len Wiseman is the property assistant on several Roland Emmerich films and has since gone on to direct feature films of his own. Another driver's name is Scott Collins. Scott Edward Collins was another property assistant on the movie.
Due to the tight deadlines and likely because the monster's look was to be kept secret, the movie wasn't given test screenings. The studio later deemed this a mistake, since this had meant that none of the movie's faults could be fixed for the theatrical release. This was one of the reasons behind the movie's grandiose promotional campaign, since the execs expected the movie to fail without sufficient marketing push.
In a 2014 interview for the British film magazine Empire, Roland Emmerich admitted that he wanted to make a disaster movie about meteors rather than a Godzilla flick. However, Armageddon (1998) and Deep Impact (1998) had already been made by the time he was done directing this movie, which frustrated him as he wanted to make one first.
Was meant to be the cinematic debut of actress Maria Pitillo. The movie immediately "won" her a Golden Raspberry Award as the Worst Supporting Actress and she stopped receiving movie roles some years later.
The movie is famous for its rainy scenes. Co-producer and co-writer Dean Devlin claimed in interviews that this was a direct homage to the original Godzilla (1954), since, according to him, "Almost all of it was in the rain." This is actually false, as only a brief scene of that movie featured rain. Many people have instead proposed that the rain was meant to hide the unconvincing aspects of the movie's special effects. Director Roland Emmerich spoke out against this, explaining that the rain actually made it much more difficult to get the effects done, and it would have been way easier to leave it out.
The movie's intended look was not revealed to the public until the Blu-ray release in 2009. All previous versions contained a serious technical issue which lead to the computer generated graphics appearing sub-par. Dean Devlin explained that this was the result of the type of film tape they had wanted to print the movie onto being inaccessible at the time of its release. Thus, the movie was printed onto a different type of tape and shipped to cinemas with unfinished-looking effects. This was one of the reasons behind the movie's failure, as the effects did not live up to the hype. They were finally corrected digitally for the Blu-ray.
Although the budget is estimated to have been $130,000,000, if we include the famously expansive US marketing, some speculate that the final number might reach up to $170,000,000. Merchandising released by the 250 business partners added approximately $150,000,000 to the movie's overall cost. Although the picture was a mild success, raking in close to $380,000,000 worldwide, this was much less than what the studio anticipated, and the tie-in merchandising produced disastrous sales, with one exception being the movie's highly successful soundtrack.
J.D. Lees, founder and editor of the Godzilla fan magazine G-Fan built up an opposition against the movie and harshly criticized it in various writings during its production. The first New Yorker who gets killed by the monster in the movie is a lookalike of Lees, which was allegedly fully intentional on the creators' part, who wanted to get back at him.
When promoting the film in 1996, Dean Devlin explained that compared to the Japanese Godzilla flicks, it would be "what Tim Burton's Batman (1989) was to Adam West". When the movie hit theaters, it garnered the opposite reception: Burton's superhero movie famously revitalized Batman and made him a popular movie character, whereas this film almost demolished the Godzilla franchise's marquee value.
Sony demanded a staggering 80% of the profits from larger movie theaters and 90% from smaller ones, rather than the usual 60%. Due to the movie under-performing quite badly compared to the expectations, some cinema chains were quick to place the blame on the film for their losses.
Patrick Tatopoulos, the Godzilla designer and supervisor, created a mechanically operated suit for the monster as well as scale models, but in a 1998 interview, Volker Engel, the visual effects supervisor, estimated that less than ten percent of the effects shots featuring Godzilla used prosthetic and mechanical effects.
Sony's studio executives only saw the movie three weeks before its release. They recognized it was not what they had hoped for, and expected it to bomb. This lead to them expanding their marketing, to ensure a strong theatrical opening. In the end, the movie on its own was a financial success, but the large budget and the extra money put into the promotions meant that it made significantly less than initially anticipated, and the tie-in merchandising campaign was a disaster, with the products barely selling. Although the movie made back more than twice its reported budget, the enterprise as a whole was a wasted effort, which is why no sequel was produced.
The movie made a little over 33 million dollars in Japan, less than half of what Toho, the movie's Japanese distributors, as well as the owners of the Godzilla franchise, had hoped for. In spite of this, it set the record of most admissions for a movie's opening in Japan at the time (about 500,000 tickets).
Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin originally turned down the offer to make the movie. It was only after a drastically different version of the film (which would have been directed by Jan de Bont) had been scrapped that the studio approached them again, partly because they felt that their reluctance to create a Godzilla movie would make them ideal candidates for reimagining the property with a new approach. This time, they accepted the job.
Robert N. Fried, former executive producer for the movie during its early years of development, was appalled and angered by how his successors, as well as Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin had handled the Godzilla property, describing it as "one of the worst cases of executive incompetence I have observed in my twenty year career". Fried was one of the people who had helped the studio acquire the rights for the franchise, and claimed that the team that took over after he had left the project took a completely wrong approach to the brand.
Following a backlash from fans, co-producer and writer Dean Devlin assured them that in the sequel(s), the monster would gradually become more like the classic Godzilla character they loved. It is unknown if this was true or if he simply wanted to calm down the fans, since no sequel was made.