About the Production

I will be adding as I learn more, so look for the updates in this blue font

Note: Many of these questions deal with the production of the movie, of which I found David Milner's interviews and Steve Ryfle's book to be valuable resources.

 

Why did they decide to kill off Godzilla?

Koichi Kawakita (SPFX director) came up with the idea of killing Godzilla. One reason was that they wanted to make an impact, that making a movie every year might get tired. Toho felt they had "run out of ideas". The movie did make that impact, as Godzilla's death got worldwide attention and ticket sales increased.

The other reason was to make room for TriStar's movie.

Director Takao Okawara wanted Godzilla killed in vs MechaGodzilla, but was overruled by Toho: Not yet.

I remember hearing that Godzilla would die in 1995 (CNN, USA Today, Leno, etc). A lot of people were against this. Didn't Toho care?

Producer Tomoyuki Tanaka agreed to kill Godzilla if and only if Junior would take his place at the end. It was known throughout the production that Junior would carry the new Godzilla mantle.

Toho kept the part about Junior a secret, despite public sentiment against killing Godzilla.

The movie was released in 1995. Why did it take so long to get to the US?

Toho wanted too much money for US distribution rights. After the American box-office failure of Godzilla 1985, most companies were wary of investing too much into what they considered a campy series.

Toho's stubborness may have been touched off by an incident of bootlegging of vs King Ghidorah. As a favor, Toho gave a subtitled copy of it to a chain of U.S. based Japanese stores in December, 1991, on the condition it could be shown but not given to anyone. Eventually, though, a copy made its way in the hands of video bootleggers. This made Toho angry, and they declared no deal on releasing it stateside.

TriStar did get the rights around 1992, but supposedly delayed distributing the Heisei movies so they would not compete with their own movie. There was never serious consideration about theatrical releases for the Heisei series. However, my friend Mark said he saw vs King Ghidorah during a Japanese film festival at the Univ of Nebraska back in 1993 (it turned out to be a fansub).

"Grateful" may not be a feeling most have about the TriStar movie. However, the Heisei series probably never would have come here if it weren't for the TriStar deal.

How come you got the video?

It is a subtitled version I got summer '98, presumably a fansub copy of a Japanese laserdisc. Is it a bootleg? I've been told it isn't, since the dealer's labeled it (in this case, it's Showcase Collectibles). Will it hold up in court? Unlikely, so please don't tell anybody I have bootlegs!

What differences have you noticed between the Japanese subtitled and American dubbed versions of vs Destoroyah?

Many times, Godzilla movies change as they go from Japan to the US. Scenes are cut (or added), the music may change, the translations are off, etc. Kaiju-Fan had some great articles on Godzilla in America and those changes. The US videos also tend to be of lesser quality; pan & scan (not letterboxed) and in EP mode. In addition to all that, I despise dubbing. I don't want this movie experience ruined by squeaky females, grunts while nodding, and especially "Godziller".

So in answer to the question, I have not seen the dubbed version of Godzilla vs Destoroyah, nor do I plan to.

I did get the DVD, though. While the letterboxed quality is great, the dubbing makes it almost unwatchable. I pretty much use it exclusively for screen captures, and with every scene in the movie at my disposal, I am having a blast!

Toho's Japanese GvD DVD was released in August 2002. It can only be played on a region-free player (outside Japan).

Why did Toho have Godzilla attack Hong Kong, which isn't in Japan?

Take your pick:

I noticed there were some computer graphics used, but Godzilla and Destoroyah were still suitmation. Why weren't the monsters CGI, like Jurassic Park and the TriStar movie?

Actually, there were quite a bit of computer graphics in vs Destoroyah, more than any other Godzilla movie until Godzilla 2000. Computers were used to cover the wires on the flying monsters and Super X3. Plus, CGI (computer generated images) was used in many scenes, including:

Many of the above scenes can be found in my Behind the Scenes section.

The thing about CGI is they were extremely expensive, especially in 1995. Consider 1993's Jurassic Park: $65 million and only a few minutes of dinosaurs. And despite the $120 million budget, a lot of the 1998 TriStar's CGI had to be obscured by rain and darkness. With a real Godzilla movie, suitmation is more appropriate, never mind that Toho operates with a fraction of the above budgets.

This movie featured a lot of digital mattes, where the monsters were inserted into other footage via computer. However, I thought Toho was a bit sloppy here, showing cars, busses, and airplanes moving nonchalantly as huge monsters battled overhead.

Many fans like to point to the Gamera movies as being better. But it takes more than a few CGI missiles and fireballs to convince me that a flying turtle is cooler than Godzilla. The effects in Gamera 3 look great, but there are always tradeoffs. For example, the monsters only appear in very short segments at the beginning and end of the movie.

Then what was the budget for Godzilla vs Destoroyah?

The budget was a billion yen (around $11 million in 1995's exchange rates), the same as the other Heisei movies. Godzilla films were more expensive than any other Japanese movies.

I found this in a Fortune magazine article discussing Sony's acquisition of Columbia/TriStar. Godzilla to Make a Comeback (Oct 7, 1991):

"If Japanese companies can supply most of the technology for shooting and showing movies, why can't they make them? With few exceptions, Japanese films not only don't travel, but often lay eggs in the home market... Japan's movie-making industry is small change, totaling a paltry $1.25 billion in ticket sales per year. Japan's minimoguls rarely spend more than $2 million to produce a film. They prefer to put their money in real estate.
"Enter Godzilla, 37. Toho, one of the leading studios, has invested an estimated $11 million in the monster's 29th (sic) celluloid appearance, Godzilla vs. King Ghidora, due for a December release. Godzilla earns about $3 million a year from spinoffs, most of them computer games. That's about what Toho lost on Godzilla's last movie, released in 1989 (vs Biollante). This time the studio expects to at least break even."

While the production budget was about the same, Godzilla vs Destoroyah had a smaller special effects budget than other recent Godzilla movies. One reason why is mecha-monsters (Mogera and MechaGodzilla) have more expensive costumes.

How long was the production?

First off, vs Destoroyah was released exactly a year after vs SpaceGodzilla, which shows the time constraints involved.

The standard footage was filmed in 50 days, while the special effects footage took three months. Two months were spent in post-production.

Of the special effects: the miniatures took a month and a half to construct, the composite mattes took two and a half, and the CGI took about a month. Kawakita said they had less time to shoot the special effects footage than the other Heisei movies.

According to Director Okawara, the Human-sized Destoroyahs vs the Metropolitan Police sequence was the most difficult, taking 20 days.

How did they freeze Godzilla?

They used liquid nitrogen on the costume in the water. They knew this would ruin the costume, so they filmed the sequence last. The actual face freezing was done with computers.

How did they make the Godzilla costume glow?

Godzilla was originally going to be luminescent red and white, but it didn't look right. Instead, they had hundreds of tiny orange light bulbs and put vinyl plates over them. The lights were powered by a huge electric cable running out the tail.

The steam was achieved using a "carbonic-acid" gas. Not only did this illustrate Godzilla's suffering, but Kenpachiro Satsuma suffered as the man in the suit. At times he'd accidently inhale the gas and faint. Other times, the lights and cables electrocuted him in water scenes.

By the way, except the lights and steam, Godzilla's suit in this movie (Desu-Goji) was the same one used in vs SpaceGodzilla (Moge-Goji).

Were Bandai toys really used in the production?

Yes, that would be the Bandai Aggregate Destoroyah figure. Some misguided souls think this was a mistake. Not I! It's pretty cool to know I own a prop! See an excerpt of the interview and picture of the props/toys.

The SPFX director Kawakita said they were used in the Metro Police sequence. I noticed them in the scenes where the JSDF tanks battle them outdoors near the Ariake Coliseum. Most of my Japanese GvD books show pictures of the props being used here.

Speaking of toys, how did the different Destoroyah toys sell?

Not as well as other monsters. The problem was that Toho insisted on keeping so many secrets. The movie was released on December 9th and many toys were introduced too late to take advantage of the holiday shopping.

Of the 1995 vinyl figures, the Aggregate and Final Form sold equally well. I personally had a problem with the Final Form because of the folded wings, and apparently many fans shared this view. At first, I totally passed on the figure. When the 6" Godzilla Island (1998) figure came out, I liked it much better and made the decision to get that one instead. I have a 9" burning Godzilla from the 1995 series, but my Super Walk is more compatible with it since it's taller. I later got a 1995 Destoroyah, and have softened my stance: I like how the folded wings add variety to my display.

My big Super Walk Destoroyah sold poorly in Japan and many collectors were able to obtain them at clearance prices (which apparently is how I got mine)

Why did the climax take place on the Tokyo waterfront?

In the movie, the Tokyo Waterfront Subcenter (Odaiba, Rainbow Town, whatever) was built on landfill over Tokyo Bay, where the oxygen destroyer was used in 1954. The microbe Destoroyah was first found in a tunnel connecting the area to the mainland.

vs Destoroyah was originally going to take place during the 1996 Tokyo World City Exposition, which was later cancelled by the governor as being too expensive. The area, which had counted on the business of the Exposition, languished with many of the new buildings remaining vacant. The city lobbied (or pressured) Toho to stage the movie at that site to give it publicity.

During the movie's release, the Super Godzilla Legend Exhibit was held at the Ariake Coliseum. On display were models and props from Godzilla movies, including suits of Destoroyah and Godzilla. In the movie, Ariake was where the military tanks attacked the Aggregate Destoroyahs.

See my On Location section for more info.

My brother Steven thought it would've appropriate to have the Godzilla's death occur at Hiroshima, where the concept of Godzilla was born. I don't recall if Godzilla ever attacked Hiroshima. Perhaps seeing the city destroyed again might be too painful for many Japanese.

I'm not too sure about what to think of that. One, Ghidorah attacked the city in vs King Ghidorah, and he had the same atomic testing origins as Godzilla did in 1954. And two, most of the monster battles in the series were staged in Tokyo, which was firebombed heavily in World War II. While no nuclear weapons were dropped, Tokyo was much more extensively damaged (with many, many more deaths) than Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. Even though Godzilla's 1954 origins may have been atomic, his attacks on Tokyo more resembled those night raids.

How was Destoroyah designed?

All of Destoroyah's forms were designed by Minoru Yoshida, who was asked to make him into a crustacean. Noriyoshi Ohrai (who made the poster) painted Yoshida's drawings. Finally, Mr. Ito sculpted models, marionettes, and suits based on Ohrai's paintings.

My GvD Special Graphix book shows parts of Destoroyah's body that resembled other Toho monsters.

What were some of the rumors flying before the movie?

Were there any secrets kept about the movie?

Well, Godzilla's death wasn't. In fact, the posters and trailers all had the tagline: "Godzilla Dies". No suspense there.

Toho wanted to keep Destoroyah's Final Form a secret. However, Bandai insisted on releasing the figure early so they could capitalize on the movie's Holiday release. In many science fiction-type movies (Star Wars comes to mind), toy sales often surpass the movie profits.

Still, no one had pictures of the Final Form as little as a month before the release, so they did a pretty good job (especially in light of TriStar's 1998 attempt to keep their monster a secret).

Toho was more successful in keeping Junior a secret, especially with him becoming Godzilla at the end. Bandai did not release a Junior figure until after the movie either. In fact, many of my books don't even show a picture of Junior rising up at the end.

In trying to keep the suspense building, Toho did not hold an advance screening.

Were there changes made in the screenplay?

Of course! Here are just a few:

My subtitled video included an alternative ending (which was scrapped). Rather than the humans killing Destoroyah, it showed Godzilla pummeling Destoroyah as he was melting down. I liked this ending much better, because 1) Godzilla's most powerful enemy does not get done in by people, 2) it gave Godzilla the pleasure of destroying the one object that had killed him, and 3) in his final fight, Godzilla should've been the sole winner. From what I saw, Godzilla still had plenty of time alone to be the focus during his death.

As it turned out, many fans also liked the alternative ending better. I guess they also couldn't swallow that Godzilla's final enemy was killed by people (even though Godzilla probably weakened Destoroyah enough for the military to get the final blow).

Kawakita said "Godzilla and Destoroyah originally were both going to die when Godzilla melted down. We shot that version of the ending, but weren't very happy with it."

How did Godzilla vs Destoroyah do at the box office?

The movie grossed 3.5 billion (about $38.5 million in 1995's exchange rates). 4 million tickets were sold, 600,000 more than the previous vs SpaceGodzilla. While not particularly high by American standards, a Japanese friend said movies are relatively expensive ($30 for him and a date), so people don't flock to theatres like they do in the US. And I probably don't need to remind anyone that Japan has half the population of the US.

Here is where it ranked among the 25 Godzilla movies, based on tickets sold (not including re-releases):

  1. King Kong vs Godzilla (1962)
  2. Godzilla 1954
  3. Godzilla Raids Again (1955)
  4. Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964)
  5. Godzilla vs Mothra (1992)
  6. Godzilla vs Destoroyah (1995)


Go back to FAQ Title page, unless you came here from the Production section