Godzilla (1994 film)
Godzilla (ゴジラ is an unmade Gojira)American Godzilla film. The predecessor to TriStar Pictures' 1998 Godzilla film, it was written in 1994 by Terry Rossio and Ted Elliot and revised by Don Macpherson in 1995, with a planned 1996 release date. Jan De Bont was attached to direct. Todd Tennant and Elden Ardiente completed a graphic novel adaptation of Rossio and Elliot's script, commissioned by Rossio, in 2015. It was released for free on Kaijuphile.com starting November 22, 2018.
In 1992, Toho sold the rights to produce an American Godzilla film to Sony Pictures Entertainment, who assigned the project to its newly-acquired subsidiary, TriStar Pictures. Terry Rossio and Ted Eliott were brought in to write a script for the film, which was completed in 1994. TriStar was satisfied enough with the screenplay to begin searching for directors. The screenplay caught the attention of director Jan De Bont after he had just finished directing the hit film Speed. Sony hired him, but studio and director soon came to blows over the budget. Sony estimated that Rossio and Elliot's script would cost an unacceptable $140-180 million; even after they revised it, the projected budget only fell to $120 million. De Bont thought that it could be done for $100 million, but could never come to an agreement; additionally, he felt the studio was using the situation to cram its own ideas into the script. He left Godzilla on December 26, 1994, sending the project into development hell. Various writers were brought in to perform rewrites to try and reduce the budget, but the difficulties scared away several potential directors.
Eventually, TriStar approached the Independence Day team of Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin, who had previously declined the project when it was pitched to them years before. This time however, Emmerich and Devlin accepted the project on the condition they could discard the original script and handle the film however they wanted. They were complimentary of the original draft, and said it showed them that a film could be made, but concluded "It wasn't a story we wanted to tell." They kept some elements from the original script, but changed most. Emmerich and Devlin brought in designer Patrick Tatopoulos to redesign the titular character as a more fast and agile creature based more heavily on dinosaurs. When the film and its new version of Godzilla were pitched to Toho, they were initially surprised but ultimately approved it when they contacted Emmerich and said, "Okay, you make [the] new Godzilla; we keep [the] old one." While Devlin and Emmerich planned to make GODZILLA for $90 million, their film ended up costing $136-150 million, well within the range that Sony originally deemed unacceptable.
GODZILLA was eventually released in theaters in May of 1998. Eliott and Rossio were given story credits in the finished film, as Emmerich and Devlin insisted they never would have been able to make the film without their original script. De Bont was vocally critical of the finished film, blaming Sony for allowing the production to fall so far off course from what he felt Godzilla was all about. Terry Rossio later wrote an essay titled "The One Hundred Million Dollar Mistake," in which he argued that the studio's decision to replace the screenplay he and Ted Eliott worked on with Devlin and Emmerich's completely different vision ultimately doomed the production to fail and potentially cost the studio $100,000,000 in box office revenue it could have otherwise earned.
Concept art for the American Godzilla and the Gryphon was commissioned by Ricardo Delgado in August and September of 1994. Stan Winston Studios was contracted to create the special effects for the film, even producing various maquettes and props for the unmade film. Additionally, a teaser trailer for the 1994 film was released in Japan.
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To be added. Terry Rossio and Ted Elliot's revised script, dated December 9, 1994, can be read in its entirety here. The official synopsis of Don Macpherson's revised script, dated May 31, 1995, can be read here.
- Several plot elements from this film appear to have been reused in Legendary Pictures' Godzilla, as in both films, Godzilla is believed to be destined to save the Earth from a far greater threat to it than him (the MUTOs and the Gryphon respectively), both films have Godzilla beheading the enemy monster, and the military believes Godzilla to be the bigger threat in both films until Godzilla defeats the main threat. The only differences are while the Godzilla in this film does seem to deliberately attack human settlements, specifically the Japanese Kurila islands, and decimates the military's forces willingly when attacked, the Godzilla from the new film was never shown deliberately causing destruction in any location that was featured the movie, and actually avoids conflict with the military, only causing hindrances and damages to the army through collateral damage.
- This film also shares some similarities with the 1995 film Gamera: Guardian of the Universe. Like Godzilla in this film, Gamera is said to be a guardian monster genetically engineered by an ancient civilization, and is supposedly destined to save the planet from a different monster, in his case, Gyaos. Like in this film, the military mistakenly believes Gamera is the larger threat and spends a portion of the film attacking him before ultimately allowing him to battle his enemy. It also ends with Gamera beheading Gyaos and wading out to the ocean.
- The Godzilla in this film is said to be an artificially-created species rather than being a naturally born or mutated species as in the original 1954 film, the entirety of the Toho films, and the Legendary film.
- Terry Rossio would later be recruited as part of the writers room tasked with creating the story for Legendary's Godzilla vs. Kong and write the film's screenplay.
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