Godzilla is a worldwide phenomenon, originating back in the late 1950s, as a metaphor for the harm war causes to humanity. It spawned countless movies, shows, comics, games and more and the latest movie in the long-running franchise is called Godzilla Minus One. That being said, there are notable differences between Japan and the West when it comes to Godzilla movies now – both offer different flavors of the iconic kaiju.
As noted above, Japan’s Godzilla was adopted into its own series in the West, known as the MonsterVerse. The arc began with 2014’s Godzilla and includes other films such as Kong: Skull Island, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and Godzilla vs. Kong. The saga continues with the ongoing series titled Monarch: Legacy of Monsters.
Godzilla Minus One‘s Director Is Aware Why Kaiju Movies Are Different From The MonsterVerse
There are obvious differences between the Western Godzilla and the one prevalent in Japan, especially when it comes to the kaiju’s mannerisms and such. While speaking to Letterboxd, director Takashi Yamazaki went into detail about the film and what it portrays.
Godzilla Minus One takes a unique approach by setting the story 70 years ago, deviating from the typical modern settings of Godzilla films. Director Yamazaki sees this as an opportunity to use Godzilla as a metaphor and a warning, as he points out that Godzilla in Japan is more like a god, while Godzilla in the West is portrayed as a monster instead.
“The point of international Godzilla is that he’s a really powerful monster, but a Japanese Godzilla is halfway a godlike creature in many ways,” Yamazaki explains. “Not necessarily a religious god, but more like a Japanese god, a malevolent and destructive one. He’s a metaphor for nuclear weapons, war—you could view [him as] Covid in this film—the nuclear power plant in Shin Godzilla, and that metaphor for these incidents is important to a Japanese Godzilla like this.
As I started making the film, I began to pile up all these concerns towards things like war, and I could put them into the shape of Godzilla and calm them in a sense,” Yamazaki says. “It’s not like this is my purpose for making the film, but as I did, I really began to think of the essence of kaiju films being a bit like this.”
It has been made abundantly clear that director Takashi Yamazaki truly loves the source material and wanted to ensure the film would be a great gateway for newcomers while also appeasing the longtime fans of the franchise.
Godzilla Minus One Has Already Broken US Box Office Records
The film debuted in Japan on November 3, celebrating the franchise’s 70th anniversary, and released in US theaters on December 1st. There was a ton of hype for the movie and unsurprisingly, the film did quite well at the Box Office.
According to Deadline, Godzilla Minus One has opened at the domestic box office with $11 million. This sets the new record for 2023’s largest opening for a foreign movie, as it has already beaten Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba‘s gross of $10.1 million. The film will close out the year with the biggest opening, as less than a month is left anyway.
Godzilla Minus One is truly a phenomenon in the world of kaiju movies and fans have been flocking to theaters to watch it as many times as possible, due to its limited release. Only time will tell whether its success will mean the movie will make its way to other markets.