The director of Godzilla Minus One reminisces about the reception of the American 1998 flop in Japan - scenesing - TV - GAMING - MOVIES
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The director of Godzilla Minus One reminisces about the reception of the American 1998 flop in Japan

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Director Takashi Yamazaki of Godzilla Minus One shares a startling revelation about the reception of the much-maligned 1998 Godzilla film among Japanese viewers.

Director Takashi Yamazaki of Godzilla Minus One reflects on the reception of Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla in Japan upon its release in 1998. Yamazaki’s 2023 film, distributed by Toho, features a disgraced World War II pilot encountering the iconic creature for a second time as it approaches post-war Japan, and has garnered widespread global acclaim. In contrast, Emmerich’s 1998 adaptation reimagined Godzilla as a result of French nuclear testing, wreaking havoc in New York City and requiring a US scientist to intervene.

As Godzilla Minus One continues to break records, Yamazaki spoke with Hoichoi’s Movie Life about the kaiju franchise’s reputation in the late 1990s, specifically addressing the Japanese debut of the 1998 US adaptation. While the film was widely criticized, Yamazaki acknowledged that its lack of impact in Japan was due to factors beyond its quality. See Yamazaki’s full explanation below:

“Emmerich’s Godzilla did not have much impact on the Japanese market. By that time, Godzilla had already faded into obscurity in Japan. At one point, it was even shown alongside Hamtaro. It had been in decline for years.”

The mid-1990s marked a time of transformation for Toho’s Godzilla

Toho’s last Japanese Godzilla film before Emmerich’s release was Godzilla vs. Destoroyah in 1995, which marked the end of the Heisei era for the franchise. The plot revolved around the kaiju being caught in a nuclear incident and facing new mutated creatures that posed a threat to humanity. The film concluded the eight-film saga with Godzilla’s death, passing on his title as King of the Monsters to his offspring. The next Godzilla movie marked the start of a new era and a different approach to continuity.

Toho’s Millennium era of the Godzilla series shifted its focus from a long-running story arc to a rebooted continuity with standalone tales. The era began with Godzilla 2000 in 1999, which followed Emmerich’s movie release. While Godzilla vs. Destoroyah was a success, Godzilla 2000 received mixed reviews and did not start the Millennium era on a promising note, although it did not spell doom for the franchise.

Reflecting on the state of Toho’s Godzilla franchise at the time of the 1998 film’s debut, it is evident that the franchise was undergoing a period of transition after the conclusion of an eight-film saga. Therefore, it is reasonable why Yamazaki claims that the series lacked impact between 1995 and 1999, as viewers had not yet become invested in the monster’s next adventure. Despite being widely rejected by American audiences and significant creatives at Toho, the director’s unexpected remarks provide a more positive portrayal of the creature’s development in Japan.

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