Why were the 90’s films not released until after G’98?

For discussion of Toho produced and distributed films or shows released from 1980 up to 1998 (includes Gamera 3)
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LegendZilla
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Why were the 90’s films not released until after G’98?

Post by LegendZilla »

Hey guys, I have a question. Why did no western distributor bother to touch the 90’s Heisei Godzilla films after the 1998 film? In 1992, HBO Miramax licensed Biollante, even if they released it direct to video, so that raises a question : Why did they not do it with the rest of the Heisei series? I know they’d be way too niche to gain a mainstream audience in cinemas, but why not even direct to video, or airing on TV?

Fill me in guys and gals.
Last edited by LegendZilla on Wed Dec 09, 2020 10:49 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Why were the 90’s films not released until after G’98?

Post by GojiDog »

I don't know anything definitive, but one explanation I always heard is that there was a controversy bringing Godzilla Vs. King Ghidorah to the states due to its perceived anti-American portrayal of events from WWII.

And once that film was rejected for release, the other 90s films were likewise not brought over till late in the decade.

Now I don't know how legit this is as it sounds iffy to me. If there really was a controversy, why would it wash over less than a decade later?

Its probably more likely that Toho had issues finding a distributor for the films. Sometimes it takes a while to get these things released. Even before the 90s, it took Monster Zero a good 5 years before it was released in the states. And its not like there was a huge interest in Godzilla in the early to mid 90s here state side.

That said, with the 98 film coming out and the rise of the internet (which is where I found out about the Heisei 90s films for the first time), interest in those movies jumped up quite a bit.

But again, I'm just speculating.
Last edited by GojiDog on Thu Dec 10, 2020 7:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why were the 90’s films not released until after G’98?

Post by eabaker »

There was a backlash against GvsKG (CNN did a story about it), but I think the bigger issue is just that American distributors didn't see a sufficient market for the movies at the time to justify the expenditure.
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Re: Why were the 90’s films not released until after G’98?

Post by SoggyNoodles2016 »

eabaker wrote: Thu Dec 10, 2020 12:48 pm There was a backlash against GvsKG (CNN did a story about it), but I think the bigger issue is just that American distributors didn't see a sufficient market for the movies at the time to justify the expenditure.
Piggybacking on this, when there WAS a market to exploit, it was with the 1998 film hype and that very quickly simmered down to the point it wasn't worth it. Just ask Trendmasters and Marc Cerasini.
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Re: Why were the 90’s films not released until after G’98?

Post by Living Corpse »

SoggyNoodles2016 wrote: Thu Dec 10, 2020 7:37 pm
eabaker wrote: Thu Dec 10, 2020 12:48 pm There was a backlash against GvsKG (CNN did a story about it), but I think the bigger issue is just that American distributors didn't see a sufficient market for the movies at the time to justify the expenditure.
Piggybacking on this, when there WAS a market to exploit, it was with the 1998 film hype and that very quickly simmered down to the point it wasn't worth it. Just ask Trendmasters and Marc Cerasini.
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Re: Why were the 90’s films not released until after G’98?

Post by Tyrant_Lizard_King »

Wouldnt be surprised if Jurassic Park and the rise of CGI was probably partially to blame. There's also the rumor that Toho was getting unhappy with the way the films were getting butchered by American studios.
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Re: Why were the 90’s films not released until after G’98?

Post by The Killer Meteor »

I think GvKG and GvM'92 were released in the UK before G'98.

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Re: Why were the 90’s films not released until after G’98?

Post by EvaGhidorah01 »

LegendZilla wrote: Wed Dec 09, 2020 10:33 pm Hey guys, I have a question. Why did no western distributor bother to touch the 90’s Heisei Godzilla films after the 1998 film? In 1992, HBO Miramax licensed Biollante, even if they released it direct to video, so that raises a question : Why did they not do it with the rest of the Heisei series? I know they’d be way too niche to gain a mainstream audience in cinemas, but why not even direct to video, or airing on TV?

Fill me in guys and gals.
Distributors weren't interested at the time.

It's possible that this may have been due to high licensing fees - since there's apparently Japanese production companies think that American distributors have a lot more money than they do. This causes them to overprice the fees and thus companies that may have had interest can't/won't do much consideration past that point. This is more-or-less why so little Kamen Rider is available in the West, Ultraman only recently just got through this issue (with Tsuburaya lowering the licensing costs and Mill Creek jumping on it).

I don't know if this would actually apply to the Heisei Godzilla movies, but it should be noted that New World Pictures leased The Return of Godzilla for around $500k USD. This was well below what Toho wanted. Supposedly a Toho spokesman complained about the highest offer from another company was only $2 million (oh the irony).

It's entirely plausible a similar situation could have happened with Godzilla vs. Biollante (no evidence to suggest it did though to my knowledge), and/or the underwhelming box-office of Biollante turned off any potential of international distribution for many years. Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah caused a controversy, which has already been mentioned in this thread.

Otherwise, I have no other explanations for why later films didn't get released in the West until 1997.
Last edited by EvaGhidorah01 on Sat Dec 26, 2020 6:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why were the 90’s films not released until after G’98?

Post by Pkmatrix »

I think it was a combination of things.

Godzilla 1985 was perceived to have done poorly (considering it had a very limited release of a couple hundred screens, I think that was an unfair assessment) because it was "too dark" and "too serious", not appealing to kids. Remember, in the years leading up to this in the U.S. Godzilla had been rebranded as a children's property by CinemaShares, the company that bought the rights and distributed Megalon, Gigan, and the Mechagodzilla movies to theaters and TV in the late '70s. Megalon's release in 1976 in particular was, I think, the last movie to do really well in American theaters and came with a huge marketing campaign that pushed Godzilla as a kid-friendly superhero type character. This same push came alongside Marvel releasing their comic book series, and the Hanna-Barbera cartoon which was in regular syndication on Saturday morning TV up through the early '80s.

This context kinda makes New World wanting to recut Return of Godzilla into a goofy comedy make more sense, because after the CinemaShares/Marvel/Hanna-Barbera era THAT is how Americans viewed Godzilla as a character: goofy silly foreign schlock suitable only for small children. (I remember that's how Godzilla was still viewed when I was a kid in the '90s as well, and still viewed that way to some degree even after G'98 into the 2000s.) Godzilla 1985 failing to make a splash and not matching up to the box office successes of the '70s films reinforced that view. I wonder if they missed an opportunity with Godzilla vs. Biollante, since as more of a shoot 'em up action movie in the style that was popular at the time it might've done well in American theaters and there was much more potential kid appeal (I mean, if Rambo and Terminator and Aliens could get toylines in America, there's no reason why they couldn't have made one for Godzilla vs. Biollante). Instead, it went to HBO and Home Video.

So by the time you got to the '90s movies, Godzilla's history in America for the previous 15 years was: moderately successful goofy kids' fluff, darker reboot box office bomb, and TV movie/direct-to-video release nobody remembered. Toho's effort to get a theatrical release for Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah was kinda doomed, and when the little controversy over the depiction of Americans in World War II got some attention that torpedoed whatever interest there may have been. By the time Godzilla vs. Mothra came around Toho seems to have just given up on American releases and instead was focused on getting a Hollywood produced film made (if I recall, the initial contract with Tristar for what would become G'98 was signed in 1992). So from 1992 onward there was no intention to release the Versus films in U.S. theaters, so as not to compete with Tristar's film or create confusion among American audiences.

Maybe the thought always was to make it one giant push? Sit on their newer films, then time Direct-to-Video releases in the U.S. with the Hollywood film's release so they could ride that wave alongside the rest of the merchandising (the toys, the comics, the novels, etc.) The initial Trendmasters toys, Random House books, Dark Horse comics, and the Super Godzilla videogame all came out during that mid-90s push that was probably initially intended to ride the wave of success from when the movie was supposed to land in 1994 or 1995. When the movie got pushed back to 1998, so did the Versus films' home video releases.
Last edited by Pkmatrix on Sat Mar 20, 2021 5:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

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