Japanese Godzilla 2016

Toho Studios in Japan owns Godzilla, and licensed the character to Legendary and Warner Bros. for the 2014 film directed by Gareth Edwards. Toho ended its own giant lizard series in 2004 with the film Godzilla: Final Wars, but don’t think that doesn’t mean that the studio is beyond feeling competitive about the character.

A new Japanese Godzilla film, announced last year, is in production now for release in 2016. While the studio is being quiet about that move into production, the stated intention for the film is to outdo Hollywood’s version. 

In December of last year, Toho producer Taichi Ueda announced the film’s green light and said, “the time has come for Japan to make a film that will not lose to Hollywood.”

The question is how Toho will achieve that. Final Wars prioritized practical and “man in suit” effects to honor the long history of that approach in Godzilla films, but the movie also didn’t perform very well in Japan. This new movie will probably be more digital.

Godzilla 2016 is being directed by Hideaki Anno (Evangelion) and Shinji Higuchi, of Attack on Titan. (Hideki Anno is also scripting.) A statement from Toho about the directors said,

Ever since Hollywood announced that ‘Godzilla’ was to be resurrected, the expectation for another Japanese Godzilla grew. And if we were to newly produce, we looked into Japanese creators who were the most knowledgeable and who had the most passion for Godzilla.

When they were announced as directors earlier this year, Higuchi said he would use his Attack on Titan approach for Godzilla. An August AP piece on Godzilla features some comments from Higuchi, and says,

Higuchi’s special-effects techniques were amply demonstrated in the recently released live-action version of “Attack on Titan.” For the film he combined computer graphics with a towering doll of rippling red muscles that resembles a giant biological anatomy chart, as well as using actors moving through miniatures, to depict grotesquely enlarged humans. Applying that kind of “hybrid” technology, as Higuchi calls it, to Godzilla has never been attempted in Japan. Higuchi is promising just that.

So we’ll probably still see some old-school Godzilla effects, but with more of a CG sheen over the production. This Godzilla has to compete in the current cinema landscape, especially if Toho really is feeling pressure from Legendary’s film. But the first of two Attack on Titan films didn’t do as well as expected when released in Japan in August. It’s probably too late to really change the approach to Godzilla, but we’ll see if that film’s performance has any effect on Toho’s new movie.

Here’s an Attack on Titan trailer for those who are unfamiliar with that live-action movie.

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