Shin Godzilla (シン・ゴジラ Shin Gojira, also known as Godzilla: Resurgence) is a 2016 Japanese kaiju film featuring Godzilla, produced by Toho and Cine Bazar and distributed by Toho. It is the 31st installment in the Godzilla franchise, the 29th Godzilla film produced by Toho, and Toho's third reboot of the franchise. The film is co-directed by Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi, with the screenplay by Anno and special effects directed by Higuchi. The film stars Hiroki Hasegawa, Yutaka Takenouchi, and Satomi Ishihara and reimagines Godzilla's origins in modern Japan.
In December 2014, Toho announced plans for a new domestic Godzilla film. Anno and Higuchi were announced as directors in March 2015. Principal photography began in September and ended in October with the special effects work following in November that year. Inspiration for the film was drawn from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster and the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.
Shin Godzilla had its premiere at the Hotel Gracery in Shinjuku, Tokyo on July 25, 2016 and was released nationwide on July 29, 2016, in IMAX, 4DX, and MX4D. It received acclaim from Japanese critics and mixed to positive reviews from Western critics. The film was the highest-grossing live-action Japanese film of 2016 and is the highest-grossing Japanese-produced Godzilla film. At the 40th Japan Academy Prize, it was nominated for 11 nominations and won seven, including Picture of the Year and Director of the Year.
The creature, named Godzilla after Maki's research, reappears, now twice its original size, and makes landfall near Kamakura en route for Tokyo. The Japan Self-Defense Forces mobilize, but their attacks have no effect and they are forced to withdraw to protect civilians. The U.S. intervenes based on defending their embassy, prompting the evacuation of civilians and government officials. U.S. B-2 bombers bombard Godzilla; Godzilla responds with highly destructive atomic rays fired from its mouth and dorsal fins, which hit and destroy the helicopter carrying the top government officials. The battle leaves radiation fallout and destruction in a huge part of Tokyo. After depleting its energy, Godzilla enters a dormant state and becomes immobile.
Yaguchi's team discovers that Godzilla's fins and blood work as a cooling system and theorize that they could use a coagulating agent to freeze it. After analyzing tissue samples, they find that Godzilla is an ever-evolving creature, able to reproduce asexually. The United Nations, aware of this, informs Japan that they will allow the use of thermonuclear weapons against Godzilla. Evacuations are ordered in multiple prefectures. Unwilling to see nuclear weapons detonated in Japan again, Patterson decides to use her political connections to buy time for Yaguchi's team, who the interim government has little faith in. Yaguchi's team has a breakthrough and procure the means to conduct their deep freeze plan through international cooperation.
Hours before the planned nuclear attack, Japan enacts the deep freeze plan. Godzilla is provoked into using its atomic breath with a large number of drones until it depletes. The team then detonates explosives in nearby buildings, knocking Godzilla down and giving the tankers full of coagulant access to inject it into Godzilla's mouth. Though many people are killed in the process, Godzilla is frozen solid. In the aftermath, it is discovered that the Godzilla fallout has a very short half-life and that the Tokyo can be reconstructed. The international community agrees to cancel the strike but has the new Japanese government agree that, in the event of Godzilla's reawakening, an immediate thermonuclear strike will be executed. Godzilla's tail shows humanoid Godzilla-like creatures frozen in the middle of emerging.
Whereas the original Godzilla was conceived as a metaphor for the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Shin Godzilla drew inspiration from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster and the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. Many critics noted similarities to those events. Mark Schilling of The Japan Times wrote that the Godzilla creature serves "as an ambulatory tsunami, earthquake and nuclear reactor, leaving radioactive contamination in his wake". Roland Kelts, the author of Japanamerica, felt that the "mobilizing blue-suited civil servants and piles of broken planks and debris quite nakedly echo scenes of the aftermath of the great Tohoku earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster." Matt Alt of The New Yorker drew similar parallels with "the sight of blue-jumpsuited government spokesmen convening emergency press conferences ... [and] a stunned man quietly regarding mountains of debris, something that could have been lifted straight out of television footage of the hardest-hit regions up north. Even the sight of the radioactive monster's massive tail swishing over residential streets evokes memories of the fallout sent wafting over towns and cities in the course of Fukushima Daiichi's meltdown."
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzō Abe had spoken positively of the film's pro-nationalist themes, stating, "I think that [Godzilla’s] popularity is rooted in the unwavering support that the public has for the Self-Defense Forces."
In December 2014, Toho announced plans for a new Godzilla film targeted for a 2016 release, stating, "This is very good timing after the success of the American version this year: if not now, then when? The licensing contract we have with Legendary places no restrictions on us making domestic versions." The new film will have no ties to Legendary's MonsterVerse and instead will serve as a reboot to the Toho series. Minami Ichikawa will serve as the film's production manager and Taiji Ueda as the film's project leader. Ueda confirmed that the screenplay is in development and filming has been planned for a summer 2015 shoot. Toho will additionally put together a project team, known as "Godzilla Conference" or "Godzi-con", to formulate future projects.
In March 2015, Toho announced that the film would be co-directed by Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi (who both collaborated on the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion), in addition to Anno writing the screenplay and Higuchi directing the film's special effects. In addition, Toho announced that the film will begin filming in the fall of 2015 set for a summer 2016 release. Promotional artwork of the new Godzilla's footprint was also released, with Toho confirming that their new Godzilla will surpass Legendary Pictures' Godzilla as the tallest incarnation to date.
Toho had approached Anno in January 2013 to direct the reboot but Anno initially declined due to falling into depression after completing Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo, stating, "A representative from Toho contacted me directly, saying, 'We'd like to direct a new Godzilla film.' At the time, I was still recovering from EVA 3.0, and right on the spot, flatly refused the offer, 'It's impossible. Even to begin work on the next EVA is impossible.'" However, Toho's sincerity and his longtime friend and co-director, Shinji Higuchi, eventually convinced him to accept the offer in March 2013. Anno had also refused the offer due to a lack of confidence, stating, "I refused [the offer] since I didn't have confidence that I could exceed the first film or come close to equaling it. But I thought that if I were to come close even a little, I would have to do the same thing [as the first film]."
Mahiro Maeda provided the new design for Godzilla while Takayuki Takeya provided the maquette. Director Higuchi stated that he intended to provide the "most terrifying Godzilla that Japan's cutting-edge special-effects movie-making can muster." A variety of techniques such as puppets, animatronics, and digital effects were initially considered and an upper-body animatronic was produced but went unused after Toho decided to create a completely CG Godzilla, VFX Supervisor Atsuki Sato stated, "CG production had already been determined when I began participating. In the end, it was the best option to allow quick edits as creative visions changed and produced a high quality film." A colorless maquette was built for CG animators to use as a reference and render the CG Godzilla model. Mansai Nomura provided the motion capture performance for Godzilla.
Principal photography began on September 1, 2015, with a large on-location film shoot at Kamata station in Tokyo under the working title "Shin Gojira". On September 23, 2015, Toho revealed the film's official title as Shin Gojira and that the film will star Hiroki Hasegawa, Yutaka Takenouchi, and Satomi Ishihara. Producer Akihiro Yamauchi stated that the title Shin Gojira was chosen for the film due to the variety of meanings it conveys, such as either "new" (新), "true" (真), or "God" (神). Yamauchi also confirmed that the film has been planned for quite some time, stating, "It's been in the works a long time. It's not like it was produced just because of the Hollywood Godzilla".
Principal photography wrapped at the end of October 2015, with special effects work scheduled for November 2015. In November 2015, without any prior announcement, Toho screened a promo reel at the American Film Market for a potential sale for overseas markets, marketing the film (for a while) as Godzilla Resurgence.
Shiro Sagisu scored the film. There are also various remixes of "Decisive Battle" from Sagisu's Neon Genesis Evangelion score. The film also includes several pieces from previous Godzilla films composed by Akira Ifukube. Anno had decided to use Ifukube's music while writing the screenplay and attempted to adapt the old Ifukube tracks to modern stereo settings but the task proved too daunting and eventually settled on using the mono mixes instead. The soundtrack was released on July 30, 2016, and sold 8,427 copies in 2 weeks.
Shin Godzilla was released on July 29, 2016, in Japan in over 350 theaters and 446 screens. It had its red carpet premiere on July 25, 2016. The premiere took place in Tokyo along Kabuki-cho Central Road, with a red carpet from the Hotel Gracery Shinjuku, the hotel which has the large Godzilla head peering over, 118.5 metres in length, the same distance as the height of Godzilla.
In April 2016, New World Cinemas was named one of the distributors to release the film in the United States, however, in June 2016, New World Cinemas clarified on their official Facebook that "New World Cinemas are not the distributors for the new Godzilla Film. The mistake was make because we said Godzilla coming soon. This was merely a post to promote Godzilla as we too are big fans. We apologise for any confusion regarding this film."
In July 2016, Toho announced that the film had been sold to 100 territories (including Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America) in 19 days after opening to foreign sales and will be released in Taiwan on August 12, the Philippines on August 24, Hong Kong and Macao on August 25, and Thailand on September 8. At the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con, it was announced that Funimation would distribute the film for North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean for a late 2016 release as Shin Godzilla, instead of Godzilla Resurgence, at the insistence of Toho. In early September, Funimation officially announced that the film was to be given a one-week limited release in the United States and Canada from October 11–18 on 440 screens, in Japanese with English subtitles, making it the first Japanese Godzilla film to receive a theatrical North American release since Godzilla 2000. Funimation hosted two North American premieres for the film, one premiere on October 3 in Los Angeles and the other on October 5 in New York. Due to popular demand, Funimation extended the film's North American theatrical run with encore screenings for October 22 and select theaters offering daily screenings through October 27.
A release for the United Kingdom was cancelled after Altitude Films, the distributor for that territory, dropped rights to the film after a showing at a FrightFest event in Glasgow on February 24. Toho did not allow any more screenings in the UK, according to a tweet made by The Electric Cinema in Birmingham, until it was revealed by the Film Distributors' Association on June 13 that National Amusements will release it in UK theaters starting July 26. However, it was later revealed that the UK rights to Shin Godzilla are held by Manga Entertainment (who once held the rights to the VHS releases of Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah and Godzilla vs. Mothra in the UK), and have announced a theatrical showing of the film for August 10 across the UK.
In December 2015, Toho unveiled the film's first teaser trailer and teaser poster revealing Toho's new Godzilla design and the film's July 29, 2016, release date. Chunichi Sports reported the size of the new Godzilla to be 118.5 metres (389 ft) tall, over 10 metres (33 ft) taller than Legendary's Godzilla, which is 108.2 metres (355 ft) tall.
In January 2016, images of the Godzilla suit were leaked online. In late March 2016, it was announced that Toho's Godzilla and Anno's Evangelion intellectual properties will form a "maximum collaboration" for merchandise in April 2016. In mid-April 2016, Toho revealed the complete design of the new Godzilla and that it is a completely CG-generated character, as well as a new trailer, details regarding the principal and supporting characters, and that the film will be released in IMAX, 4DX, and MX4D formats for its domestic release.
For summer 2016, the Namja Town amusement park held special Godzilla cross-promotion activities. The park unveiled a new virtual reality game, the food court produced kaiju-inspired food dishes, and a Godzilla foot on display as though it had crashed through the roof of the attached Sunshine City Alpa shopping center. Sports equipment manufacturer Reebok released limited-edition Godzilla sneakers featuring a black reptilian skin pattern and either red or glow-in-the-dark green coloring in Japan. In early 2017, Universal Studios Japan featured a temporary 4D Shin Godzilla attraction as part of its Universal Cool Japan 2017 program as well as the addition of music from the film to the tracklist of the Hollywood Dream – The Ride roller coaster.
Shin Godzilla was released on DVD and Blu-ray in Japan on March 22, 2017. It was released on Blu-ray, DVD and digital on August 1, 2017 in North America with a full English dub.
In Japan Shin Godzilla earned ￥625 million (US$6.1 million) on its opening weekend and was number one at the box office for that weekend, placing Finding Dory at second place and One Piece Film: Gold at third place, and earned 23% more than 2014's Godzilla when it opened in Japan. It was more than triple the first weekend's gross of 2004's Godzilla: Final Wars, the previous Toho film in the series, which in the end grossed US$12.3 million. The film remained at number one during its second weekend and was projected to finish at US$40 million domestically. The film dropped to second place during its third weekend, topped by The Secret Life of Pets, earning US$33.5 million after 17 days, topping the estimates for both 2004's Godzilla: Final Wars and 2014's Godzilla. The film reached ￥5.3 billion (US$51.63 million) a month after its release, topping the earnings for Anno's previous film Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo, which earned ￥5,267,373,350.
On its sixth weekend, the film climbed back to number two, topped by Your Name, with an earning of US$3.2 million, bringing the film's total domestic gross to US$60 million from 4.1 million admissions. After exiting the top ten in late September, the film has grossed nearly US$77 million from 5.6 million admissions. Shin Godzilla became the highest grossing live-action Japanese film for 2016, and the second highest grossing film in Japan for the year.
In the United States and Canada, the film grossed US$1.9 million during its limited 31 day run. Outside of Japan and North America, the film was released in a handful of International markets. In Taiwan, it grossed US$264,235; in Australia it grossed US$84,090; in New Zealand it grossed US$13,892; in Thailand it grossed US$322,061; in South Korea it grossed US$36,915; and in Spain it grossed US$8,031. The film grossed ¥82.5 billion domestically and US$78 million worldwide.
Shin Godzilla received widespread acclaim from Japanese critics and mixed to positive reviews from Western critics. The special effects and new depiction of Godzilla were praised but the film was criticized for its long scenes and confusing dialogue between the politicians, military, and authorities, and introducing too many characters and subplots. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes has a rating of 84% based on 58 reviews, with an average rating of 6.6/10. The site's consensus reads, "Godzilla Resurgence offers a refreshingly low-fi – and altogether entertaining – return to the monster's classic creature-feature roots." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 68 out of 100 based on 12 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews."
Japanese pop culture site RO65 called the film a "masterpiece of unprecedented filmmaking", feeling that the film retains a "strong respect for the fundamental message within Godzilla". Oricon Style praised directors Hideaki Anno's and Shinji Higuchi's realistic approach and the film's reality vs. idealism themes, calling the film a "world class" Godzilla film. Cinema Today called the film a "thrilling experience" and a "masterpiece", feeling that the film was a return to form similar to 2004's Dawn of the Dead. Kazuo Ozaki from Eiga.com praised the film as well, stating, "Hollywood, even with all its money, can’t approach this kind of perfection" while Koichi Irikura from Cinema Today called it a "birth of a masterpiece that boldly announces the revival of a Japanese Godzilla". Brian Ashcraft from Kotaku felt the film was a "letdown", though he praised the film's special effects and social reflection of Japan, he criticized the film's depiction of the human characters, stating, "I wish the movie explored the relationships between the politicians and the researchers more instead of glossing over it" and concluded that "This isn’t one of the best Godzilla films ever made, but it's certainly not one of the worst by any stretch, either. Godzilla Resurgence is a series of compelling ideas in a so-so Godzilla movie."
Ollie Barder from Forbes was surprised at "how good" the film was, praising Anno's classic Gainax motifs, though he was not completely fond of Godzilla's new design, feeling that the "googly" eyes made Godzilla look silly but Barder did feel that the design was more "organic and menacing" than previous incarnations and praised the film's depiction of Godzilla, stating, "I really liked the way Godzilla is handled in this new movie, as it feels a lot more like the God Soldier short that both Anno and Higuchi worked on" and concluded by stating that he "really enjoyed" the film and that it had a "far more coherent plot" than 2014's Godzilla. Marcus Goh from Yahoo felt that the film was a better reimagining than 2014's Godzilla, though he criticized parts of Godzilla's design and the protagonists' plan to stop Godzilla, Goh regardless gave the film a 3.1 score out of 5 and concluded that the film "preserves the feel of Godzilla movies while updating it with modern responses."
Jay Hawkinson from Bloody Disgusting called the film a "very good Godzilla movie that teeters on greatness," however, he felt the film's drama "didn't always work" and some of the English delivery felt "canned and often corny", particularly Satomi Ishihara's character who he thought was "convincing" at times but a "hard sell in her role", but did praise the film's battle scenes, Shiro Sagisu's score, and the film's homages to the franchise, and concluded by stating that "Shin Godzilla may be a reboot sans the rubber suit we’ve grown to love but it's unquestionably Godzilla." Elizabeth Kerr from The Hollywood Reporter felt that Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi did "the big guy justice", feeling that they "have created a Godzilla for this era" but felt that "all the telling (or reading) rather than showing reduces the story's overall impact" but concluded by stating that "there's an intangible quality to this Godzilla that Edwards (Emmerich doesn’t count) never quite captured, and which is always welcome". Matt Schley from Otaku USA called the film "A match made in kaiju heaven", praising Anno's directing stating, "It's also a reminder, after years in the Evangelion reboot woods, that Anno is one of Japan's most unique directorial voices in either animation or live-action filmmaking", though he felt the special effects weren't as impressive as 2014's Godzilla, Schley did feel that the film's CG "gets the job done, though there are a couple questionable shots" and concluded by stating that "Hideaki Anno has achieved a successful resurgence for both the Big G and himself."
The only Japanese live-action Godzilla movie in which the monster was realized almost completely through CGI, abandoning the traditional suitmation effects. However, according to effects supervisor Atsuki Sato, Godzilla's skin was deliberately made to look like rubber as opposed to realistic animal skin, and his movements were performed via motion capture, adding a live performance element to the animation. Some of Godzilla's interactions with the environment were achieved via pushing a prop through miniatures, and the final shot of the monster is actually a sculpture instead of a digital effect, so the physical effects weren't entirely done away with.
This film was given a special advanced release in the United States on October 11-18, 2016, when it was shown in its original Japanese version (with English subtitles) and under a semi-translation of its original Japanese title, "Shin Godzilla".
The B-2 Spirit stealth bombers that appear in the film against Godzilla are identified with the onscreen subtitles as being from the 509th Operations Group. The 509th is a descendant unit of the (in)famous World War 2-era 509th Composite Group, well-known as being the unit that dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. Today, the 509th is the sole U.S. Air Force unit equipped with the B-2 and is based at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri.
Godzilla was portrayed in motion capture by Mansai Nomura, a Kyogen (traditional Japanese comic theatre) actor. To realize Godzilla's slow movements, a 10-kilo weight was strapped behind him, and he incorporated the technique of the traditional Japanese dance into his performance.