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Roland Emmerich Never Wanted To Make A Godzilla Movie

Roland Emmerich says he never wanted to make 1998’s Godzilla and comments on the radical change from the big-belly Godzilla into a lean lizard.

Director Roland Emmerich says he never wanted to make a Godzilla movie, despite doing so in 1998. Emmerich is the famed “disaster movie” director of such notable hits as Stargate, Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, and the upcoming Moonfall. In 1998, Emmerich directed a new, Americanized take on Godzilla, which starred Matthew Broderick, Hank Azaria, Jean Reno, and Maria Pitillo.

The character of Godzilla, a.k.a. Gojira, was created and is owned by Toho Co., Ltd, a Japanese production house that has produced 36 films featuring the kaiju since 1954. The first American-made version of Godzilla was Emmerich’s in 1998, with Warner Bros. revisiting the franchise in 2014 with a new iteration. That series has since continued with Godzilla: King of the Monsters in 2019 and last year’s Godzilla vs. Kong, with more entries expected to follow.

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Related: Why Toho Hated The 1998 Godzilla Movie (& What Happened After)

While promoting his new film Moonfall, Emmerich (via THR) said that he “didn’t want to do Godzilla” but that the studio, TriStar, “made [him] a deal, which was unheard of” to do it. However, Emmerich had some “radical” ideas about how to revamp the kaiju for a new audience, which was a stark contrast to what had been done with Toho throughout the years. If Emmerich was going to be coaxed into making a Godzilla movie, it seems his one major sticking point was that the monster had to have a decidedly different look than its Toho counterpart. Emmerich’s “Hollywood Godzilla,” as it would come to be known by Toho filmmakers, was ultimately more lizard-like, rather than a monstrous kaiju. Here’s what he had to say about the debacle:


I didn’t want to do Godzilla. But they made me a deal, which was unheard of. I said, “OK, let’s go about this really radically. I’m not doing big-belly Godzilla. I’m doing him as a lizard.” That was supposed to tell everybody I can’t do this movie. [Godzilla owner Toho] said, “Oh, we’ll call this the new Godzilla, the Hollywood Godzilla. Then, we can still do our fat Godzilla.” I said, “Sh*t!” I was constantly working on my meteor film. It just got swept away by Godzilla, and then all of a sudden, Michael Bay came along and did it first.


Godzilla chasing a taxi around New York in Roland Emmerich's 1998 film

The process of making the film eventually stalled Emmerich’s planned meteor-disaster film, which never came to fruition as both Michael Bay’s Armageddon and Mimi Leder’s Deep Impact beat him to the punch.  Moonfall is Emmerich’s latest epic-scale disaster film and stars Patrick Wilson, Halle Berry, and John Bradley as a team of astronauts and scientists trying to stop the moon from coming out of orbit and colliding with Earth. Emmerich’s last film was the WWII dud Midway, and before that was the ill-received sequel to Independence Day, Independence Day: Resurgence. Emmerich hasn’t had a great track record as of late, so hopefully, Moonfall will redeem some of his recent missteps.


Godzilla has become somewhat of a B-movie punching bag over the years, though it wasn’t exactly a commercial failure. The more recent films have been far better received, particularly as the look of Godzilla is more in-line with the Toho design, rather than Emmerich’s strange, sleek, lizard-like version. Still, 1998’s Godzilla continues to be a marvel of big-budget filmmaking gone awry, having become a campy cult classic over the years.

Next: What Godzilla 1998’s Trilogy Would’ve Looked Like (& Why It Didn’t Happen)

Source: THR

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