by Joseph Savitski
Godzilla, like any other huge star, is well acquainted to the perils of development hell. While he’s starred in almost thirty films, some of his more fascinating and outlandish projects never made it past the proposal changes. Here’s a look at some of Godzilla’s Japanese and American near misses.
“THE VOLCANO MONSTERS”—“Godzilla Raids Again” was released in the USA uncut, be redubbed and retitled “Gigantis, The Fire Monster”; fans should count their blessings that it wasn’t released as intended. In 1957, American producers Harry Rybnick and Edward Barison bought the rights the the film, with the intention of creating an entirely new movie around the monster scenes. Godzilla and Angilas became just regular dinosaurs, who became trapped in lava and discovered in 20th century Japan. Flown to San Francisco for further study, they revive and continue their battle. All scenes with Japanese actors were to be cut, as well as those with Godzilla’s radioactive breath. A new script with American actors was to be shot, with a few new monster scenes filmed in America added as a bridge to the new material. While a script was completed and TOHO shipped the monster suits to America, the film company went bust and so did the project.
“CONTINUATION: KING KONG VS. GODZILLA”—Pitting the two monsters resulted in the biggest grossing Godzilla film ever. Naturally, TOHO wanted to do it again; in 1963 a treatment by Shinichi Sekizawa was submitted where King Kong sought out Godzilla for a rematch. Getting the rights to Kong again proved much too expensive, and the concept never made it past the proposal stage. That didn’t stop TOHO from trying again in 1991 with a remake, with the same result.
BATMAN VS. GODZILLA”—Shinichi Sekizawa tried again with a draft submitted in November 1965 that featured the Dark Knight against Godzilla. Robin, Commissioner Gordon, the Batmobile, Batcycle, and a weather control device all came into play, along with references to Batgirl. It’s unclear if this was ever made known to DC Comics, as never came close to production; the weather device was reused in “Son of Godzilla”.
“GODZILLA VS. THE DEVIL”—After the success of “The Omen” and “The Exorcist”, TOHO tried to give the Godzilla series a supernatural angle. The 1978 proposal involved humanity’s sin bringing forth a giant spider, a giant fish, and a giant rat. Godzilla defeats these, resulting in a fight between Godzilla and Satan himself. Despite being a Japanese/American production with a genrous $4 million budget and a longer 110 minute running time, the project died a quick death.
“KING OF THE MONSTERS: GODZILLA”—Mean as a remake of “Goijira”, this 1978 was to be directed by Jun Fukada and scripted by Ryuko Nakashi and Akira Murano. Slated for release in 1979, the project soon ran behind schedule and over budget, and eventually was dropped by TOHO.
“GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS in 3D”—this was meant to be an entirely American production, written by Fred Dekker (“The Monster Squad”,” Robocop 3”) and directed/produced by Steve Miner (“Halloween H2O”). Miner wanted the special effects done by ILM, and filmed in 3D. The script had a Cold War aspect to it, involving a scramble for recovered Russian missiles,the death of a young Godzilla and it’s parent decimating San Francisco. Miner also expected to cast Powers Boothe, Jeff Goldbum and Demi Moore. The project was shopped to every studio in Hollywood, but the film’s large budget and director who at that time had only filmed two movies worked against it. Despite Dekker writing a version less heavy on special effects, the project died in 1983.
“GODZILLA VS. GODZILLA”—TOHO planned on retiring Godzilla in 1995, expecting the US remake to be a massive success. A proposal, also known as “Godzilla vs. Ghost Godzilla”, featured the restless spirit of the 1954 Godzilla rising from the grave to destroy Japan. This enrages the modern Godzilla, who doesn’t enjoy sharing his turf, and a supernatural brawl ensues. TOHO decided Godzilla has already face 2 enemies in previous films who resembled him, three would be simply too much.
“GODZILLA”—the first attempt by TriStar was slated for 1994, and directed by Jan DeBont. In a radical revision of the legend, Godzilla is a creation of an extinct but highly advanced civilization meant to protect Earth against alien menaces. He’s accidential awaken in Antartica by the Soviet Union illegally dumping nuclear reactors. Meanwhile, a meteor lands in Tennesse; inside in a vicious extraterrestrial who assimilates all the animals it comes in contact with. The resulting creation in The Gryphon; meanwhile Godzilla senses a threat is near and the two meet in New York City. After a massive battle royale, Godzilla is nearly killed but gets his second wind. The finale is on Ellis Island, where a mortally wounded Gryphon steps on a fireworks display, igniting the sky with colorful explosions. In a killing blow, Godzilla tears the head off his enemy and spikes on the Statue of Liberty’s torch while fireworks explode in the background.
Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio (“Aladdin”, “Pirates of the Caribbeann”) made several revision to their script, but the budget still was north of $100 million. TriStar also balked at having Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton as leads; DeBont eventually left the film in 1995 citing the ever widening gap between himelf and the studio. Don MacPherson was brought in to write a less expensive “Godzilla”, and David Fincher nearly signed on to replace DeBont inlate 1995. The team of Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich came aboard in late 1996, and their version was released in May 1998. Despite making back its’ production costs, it still was considered a disappointment; the two proposed sequel were scrapped and the film rights reverted back to TOHO in 2003. Legendary Pictures acquired the rights in 2009, but no news on a project has been forthcoming. TOHO temporarily ended the Godzilla films in 2004, and is expected to release a new entry late in 2014.