With Godzilla back in theaters and kicking ass, SciFiJapan caught up with producer Michael Schlesinger who speaks in depth about his unmade project, Godzilla Reborn, the nearly-made American sequel to the Japan Godzilla 2000 Millenium, which was a low budget project with man-in-suit effects to be produced by Toho technicians.
Schlesinger, who produced and wrote the U.S. version of Godzilla 2000, recounts the genesis of the project, and how Gremlins director Joe Dante become involved.
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. Jon said, “Yep, you’re really Mr. Godzilla now.” I replied, “Yeah, and if this company [Sony] is smart, they’ll get you, me and Joe to do the next American one.” He laughed and said, “Hey, we’re there,” and then we moved on.
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 ‘em what they want — a cheap movie that looks like the TV show.” And thus was born THE WRATH OF KHAN and the franchise was saved. I felt we could do the same thing with 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 for 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.
You can read the entire interview by clicking here. Can you imagine if Dante had directed a man-in-suit Godzilla sequel? How fun would that have been?!
Image Source: Toho, Ltd. and TriStar Pictures