In 1998, Tristar would release the first and infamous American Godzilla remake. After being poorly received by fans, critics, and the general audience the Godzilla parent studio, Toho Co., would be forced to bring Godzilla out of retirement earlier than expected.
Godzilla 2000 would release in Japan on December 11, 1999, and in America on August 18, 2000. Even though fans would hail the movie as the return of the "true" Godzilla, the movie would underperform in the box office due to the 1998 remake still fresh on people's minds thinking and misconceptions of Godzilla 2000 being a sequel to GODZILLA (98).
Independent producer and director, Michael Schlesinger, whom also worked on the script for the American distribution of Godzilla 2000, would come up with the idea of a sequel to Godzilla 2000 called Godzilla Reborn. In an interview with SciFi Japan, Schlesinger commented:
"Believe it or not it started as a joke. I'm friends with Joe Dante and Jon Davison, and one day late in 2000, I bumped into Jon on the lot – he was producing The Sixth Day at the time. I mentioned that Toho had liked our version [of Godzilla 2000] so much that they were using it in some other countries where it hadn't yet opened, such as India, and were even playing it in Tokyo for a week before Godzilla vs Megaguirus opened…
Now I'd been kidding, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. The situation was analogous to Star Trek: a lot of people had problems with the first film, so Paramount said, "Okay, fine, let's give them what they want – a cheap movie that looks like the TV show." And thus Wrath of Khan and the franchise was saved. I felt we could do the same thing for Godzilla. So I called Jon and Joe and asked if they'd be interested in my pursuing this, and they both said absolutely.
I then went in to see the head of production at Columbia, and pitched him the idea of us doing a modestly budgeted man-in-suit film, using Toho's effects people. Their Godzilla films were running about $10-12 million at the time, so figuring a bigger budget to allow for American actors and other factors, I felt we could do it at around $20 million – about a sixth of what the Emmerich film cost. He liked the idea, but was not in a position to set this kind of project in motion. However, if I were willing to write a script on spec, that would make it a lot easier. That was fine with me, and I promptly set to typing."
Godzilla Reborn was going to be a sort of comedy with characters bickering and bantering at each other, but then united to overcome a common problem. Actor Bruce Campbell (most commonly known for the Evil Dead series) was eyed on as the star of the film as a hotel owner in Honolulu, Hawaii that liked to flirt with women. Jamie Lee Curtis was eyed for the movie's female lead, a reporter from an L.A. TV news station that is on vacation. She is tired of reporting fluff news and wanted to do more serious journalism. Other characters include a belligerent army general that is a Bronx Jew who peppers his dialogue with Yiddish and Honolulu's chief of police that drinks on duty because there's never any crime being committed. Raymond Burr would also have a cameo appearance as himself that the characters visit.
The story would've had Godzilla stomping his way through most of the Hawaiian islands until he reaches Mauna Loa by the third act of the film. Once he reaches the volcano, Godzilla would come to meet the movie's main antangonist: a bat-like monster made from molten lava called Miba.
The script was presented to Toho and claimed to have liked the script a lot (according to Schlesinger), but they asked to make one major change to the script. This major change would be to have Godzilla killed half-way through the movie and then cloned after the military realizes they needed Godzilla to fight Miba. Schlesinger agreed to the changes, but that was as far Schlesinger got with Godzilla Reborn. No drawings or anything were made. This was due to Columbia Pictures having hired the new head of production, Sid Ganis. Whenever Schlesinger would try to present his script to Ganis, the head of production would want nothing to do with the project. He wouldn't even read the script to even judge if the idea was good or not. At the time, the only thing Ganis cared about was Spiderman and $20 million movies was not on his radar.
Toho had already paid Sony $5 million for the sequel and Sony wrote it off. Schlesinger wanted to shop his idea to other studios, but Toho wanted Schlesinger to pay a huge amount of money upfront in order to do so. The project died right then and there when Schlesinger realized he didn't have the amount of money he needed to pay Toho.
As much I would've liked to have seen a sequel to Godzilla 2000, the idea of a Godzilla movie being a comedy is not one that I would like very much. I'm more for serious Godzilla movies. On top of that, GODZILLA (98) was still fresh in people's memories and a sequel to GODZILLA was already in the works as well as the animated TV series that was airing on Fox Kids every Saturday. Based on how Godzilla 2000 was a financial bomb in the United States, it was clear that people were just not ready yet for another Godzilla movie on the big screen. I commend Schlesinger for wanting to pursue an idea he had for a Godzilla movie, but I think it was good that this movie was dropped as it was simply just not the right time for America to make another film. Now if he really wanted to, Schlesinger could come back to this idea as monster movies are becoming popular again thanks to the Monsterverse series.
What are your thoughts on Godzilla Reborn? Would you have wanted to see it or do you think it was a bad idea? Leave a comment in the comments section of your thoughts on Godzilla Reborn. Make sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Minds, MeWe, Gab, and Parler to stay up to date for more news, reviews, and discussions.