Godzilla 3-D, also known by the titles Godzilla vs. Deathla to the MAX and Godzilla 3-D to the MAX during different stages of production, is an unmade IMAX 3D Godzilla film in development from 2003 to 2009. Godzilla vs. Hedorah director Yoshimitsu Banno was the driving force behind the project, planning to direct and produce the film with his company Advanced Audiovisual Productions. Along with producers Brian Rogers and Kenji Okuhira, his endeavors to secure funding for Godzilla 3-D would lead to Legendary Pictures acquiring the rights to the character in 2010 and releasing a film in 2014.
Godzilla vs. Deathla to the MAX
The film opens with a chorus of children singing "Return the Sun!", set to imagery of pulsating amoebas.
A locust-like swarm of monsters called Deathla descend on Iguazu Falls in the Amazon, transforming into mushrooms which begin to consume the forest. The Bahamas and Denmark also see outbreaks of the deadly fungus. Godzilla shows up to attack the Amazon infestation, only for them to coalesce into a kaiju. After a back-and-forth battle, Godzilla's atomic breath forces Deathla to split into its locust form and retreat. Using the power of flight he first displayed in Godzilla vs. Hedorah, Godzilla gives chase, confronting Deathla in the Virgin Islands and at a Florida amusement park, but is unable to land a killing blow.
Deathla finally stands its ground in New York City as a blizzard rages. Godzilla puts out its right eye; it counters by growing to a truly enormous size and hurling him into Central Park. Covered in sludge and near death, Godzilla finds the strength to get back up as children all over the world shout encouragement. After protecting the "9/11 Monument" (presumably Tribute in Light), he takes out Deathla's other eye with his atomic breath. Transforming into its locust form again, Deathla leaves the earth. Godzilla returns to the Amazon and winks at the viewer before disappearing behind Iguazu Falls.
Godzilla 3-D to the MAX
This revision follows the same basic structure, with these changes and clarifications:
- Deathla arrives on Earth by way of a meteor which lands in the Sargasso Sea.
- The main characters are Mischa, an American reporter, and Jim, her younger brother. They have traveled to Iguazu Falls so that Mischa can do a report on the "Spray of Iguazu," a rainbow that appears in the area when the full moon is in the sky. Their father was a firefighter killed on 9/11, and Jim still carries his harmonica.
- Jim's only friend is Little Beard, a German Shepherd, although the dog's role in the story is unknown.
- Deathla's locust form awakens Godzilla as it attacks the Amazon.
- The blizzard at the end of the film takes place during the summer.
- Deathla's growth is the result of it absorbing the contents of a New York City dump.
- Godzilla kills Deathla instead of driving it off the planet, slicing it into pieces with a technique called the "Ultra Spin Tail Punch."
- In the final scene, Godzilla's tail is revealed to be the source of the Spray of Iguazu.
All references to 9/11 are removed. The final battle between Godzilla and Deathla takes place in Las Vegas, with stops in Mexico and California. A location shoot in Tokyo was also planned.
Towards the end of the Millennium series, Yoshimitsu Banno approached Toho with an idea for a Godzilla film in IMAX 3-D. Though Godzilla 2000: Millennium had not performed especially well in the United States, he believed that the character would prosper in a specialty format which emphasized size and sound. Since the company did not have any concrete plans to continue the Godzilla series after Godzilla: Final Wars was released in 2004, they agreed to a contract similar to the one TriStar Pictures had signed to make its 1998 American Godzilla film. Toho would provide Banno with the rights to Godzilla but not any financial backing, and they would have to sign off on the story and monster designs.
Banno completed a story proposal, called Godzilla vs. Deathla to the MAX, in December 2003, with the character of Deathla intended as a new version of Hedorah. The film had an intended run time of 36 minutes.
Banno's first revision, finished in 2005, was retitled Godzilla 3-D to the MAX, with a proposed budget of $9 million and a run time of 40 minutes. Principal photography would have started in December 2005, with post-production running from March to May 2006. Advanced Audiovisual Productions formed "The Godzilla 3D To The Max Production Committee" with the American company White Cat Productions and launched a website to entice investors in June 2005.
The project was first reported as Godzilla 3-D in a December 2005 Yomiuri Shimbum article, with a budget of $25 million and a production start date of March 2006. Instead, March saw the Godzilla 3-D site go offline. Further news did not emerge until May 2007, when Kerner Productions announced its involvement with the project. Godzilla would be brought to life with a combination of practical and digital effects, including motion capture, and production was to start in February 2008.
It is unknown when Legendary Pictures first expressed interest in the project, but the company's desire to make a feature-length film turned out to be Godzilla 3-D's undoing. Advanced Audiovisual's contract with Toho was for a film 60 minutes or less. Producers Banno, Kenji Okuhira, and Brian Rogers attempted to renegotiate the deal, but decided to simply return the rights to Godzilla and Hedorah to Toho and let Legendary sign a new contract, which was publicly announced in March 2010. Banno and Okuhira would be credited as executive producers on Legendary's Godzilla film, released in 2014, with Rogers as a producer.
Banno and Advanced Audiovisual would later attempt to rework the story of Godzilla 3-D into an IMAX Gamera film, titled Gamera 3-D. Even after the release of Legendary's Godzilla, Banno was still discussing a new Hedorah project, called Hedorah vs. Midora.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Yoshimitsu Banno and Keith Melton (Godzilla 3-D to the MAX and Godzilla 3D)
- Written by Yoshimitsu Banno
- Produced by Yoshimitsu Banno, Kenji Okuhira, Brian Rogers (Godzilla 3-D to the MAX and Godzilla 3D), Roger Holden (Godzilla 3-D to the MAX)
- Cinematography by Peter Anderson (Godzilla 3-D to the MAX and Godzilla 3D)
- Special effects by Eiichi Asada (Godzilla 3-D to the MAX), Kerner Optical (Godzilla 3-D)
- Though Legendary Pictures' Godzilla was not based on Yoshimitsu Banno's script for Godzilla 3-D, it did carry over the idea of Godzilla pursuing a flying creature through multiple locations. Director Gareth Edwards's visual approach also echoed Banno's concept of how the monsters should be filmed, with the director striving not to "[put] a camera anywhere a camera can't go" and retain a human perspective. Banno and Edwards met several years before filming started on Godzilla, although Banno did not disclose what they discussed.
- Godzilla 3D was Yoshimitsu Banno's second attempt at a rematch between Godzilla and a Hedorah-like creature, after Godzilla vs. Hedorah 2 in 1972.
- When pitching Godzilla 3-D to Toho, Yoshimitsu Banno insisted that a Godzilla film could find success in a limited theatrical run in the United States. Funimation Films would later release Toho's Shin Godzilla in the U.S. in a limited theatrical run in 2016.
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