Back in May 1998, Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla had hit the theatres. It remains till date a very special movie for me, for it was my first tryst with Hollywood. My first theatrical visit to watch an English language film. I was in the Eighth Grade, and not so keen on watching a big lizard-like creature destroy the skyscrapers in America. But my sister was headed to the screening with a group of friends, and my parents, maybe out of pity or maybe to get me off their backs, bought me a ticket for the same show. So there I sat, aloof, with a bag of popcorn in my hand, a few rows behind my sister and her gang, in a single-screen theatre, wondering whether popcorn alone would suffice my hunger pangs or not. And then it all began. The hall grew dim and the big screen ahead brightened up. Something was ablaze in front of me, some act that was to result in irreparable damage. I was hooked from the word go. When the first huge footprint of the monster was shown, I was astonished, and when it made an appearance, I was in awe. For it was indeed huge. The one thing that Roland Emmerich got right in this movie was building the anticipation of the monster, right from the “Size does Matter” tagline to the opening scenes of the film; he made the monster big and scary and powerful, and he made it monstrous enough to not be dismissed off lightly. 1998’s Godzilla was a commercial success, though lashed out by critics all over, but for the teenager that I was, neither mattered, for I had suddenly fallen in love. In love with the unabashed entertainment that Hollywood can provide, in love with the no-holds-barred adventure they can take us on. Now sixteen years later, Godzilla returns, one which is claimed to be bigger than the previous one, and more ferocious and scary. It seems as some kind of a circle has been completed.
1998, it was a different time then. The Star Wars saga consisted of only three films. Leonardo DiCaprio was the new heartthrob after Titanic became the biggest blockbuster that Hollywood had seen. Pixar Studios was only one movie old, with its second film A Bug’s Life slated for a late 1998 release. Batman was now dead to many, after the release of the terrible Batman & Robin the previous year. A certain Matt Damon and Ben Affleck had entered the spotlight with Good Will Hunting. Frank Sinatra had just passed away. The Lethal Weapon series was still on. Tom Cruise had played Ethan Hunt only once. 1998, it was a different time indeed.
Godzilla had a wide release in the USA on May 20, 1998, in time for the long Memorial Day holiday weekend. It opened at the top spot in the domestic markets, grossing close to $56 million over the four-day holiday. The already released Deep Impact, another science fiction disaster film though without the monsters, slipped to second position. Godzilla remained on top of the charts for two weekends in a row before The Truman Show came up. Eventually, Godzilla earned a rather solid figure of $379 million worldwide, as compared to its production budget of $130 million. It was the third-biggest film of 1998, by worldwide gross, ranking only below Bruce Willis starrer Armageddon and Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan. Domestically though, the film finished ninth for the year.
Sixteen years later things have changed quite a lot. Movie budgets have shot up, the global screenings for Hollywood films have scaled up, big budget films are showcased in 3D now. Star Wars series consists of six films, and a seventh is on its way. Avatar has taken the numero uno position from Titanic and DiCaprio has grown to be one of the most versatile actors of his era, though still remains a heartthrob for many. Pixar has been bought by Disney and has become one of the biggest forces in the animation industry. Matt Damon became Jason Bourne and Ben Affleck is to be the new Batman, who thankfully didn’t remain dead. They finally are done with the Lethal Weapon movies, while Tom Cruise is all ready to be Ethan Hunt for the fifth time now.
One thing that hasn’t changed much though is Godzilla. This monster is still a bad-ass, a ferocious giant beast all set to destroy whatever comes in its path. The rein has been passed on from Roland Emmerich to the British director Gareth Edwards. Given the efforts that have gone behind the movie’s promotion, a lot is now expected from the reboot. The initial promos have been enticing enough to get your hopes high. 2014’s Godzilla may just bring in more heart to the film than the Emmerich version, but irrespective of that, there still would be a teenager within each one of us, ready to enjoy the rumble and growl of a monstrous beast.
Can also read: Godzilla and the ever-changing posters