The film was released in the United States on cable television on August 31, 2003 then followed with a DVD release in early 2004.
In Tokyo, following the giant monster attack on New York City, a meeting of the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) is held to discuss the potential return of Godzilla. During the meeting, Admiral Taizo Tachibana briefs cadets about Godzilla's attack on Tokyo 50 years earlier. A nuclear submarine is reported missing, which is later found to have been destroyed by Godzilla. Tachibana's daughter, Yuri Tachibana film a docudrama with her crew at Mt. Myoko, where a mysterious earthquake randomly ensues. The odd earthquake returns later that night burying a biker gang and leaving one surviving trucker who witnesses the monster, Baragon.
The next day, Yuri is unable to convince her supervisor Haruki Kadokura to report the incident. The SDF attempts to rescue the buried men using a missile called D-03. The surviving trucker tries to explain to a military official what he saw but can only explain that he believed it was Godzilla. Yuri's friend, Teruaki Takeda, supports her theory that a monster may have been the cause of the mysterious Myoko earthquake by giving her a book on The Guardian Monsters.
A few days later, Godzilla and Baragon finally appear in Japan and engage in a ferocious battle in Hakone. Yuri and Takeda are trapped in the midst of the battle when Godzilla mercilessly defeats Baragon with his atomic breath. After the battle, Yuri receives a minor injury to the head. Fearing for her safety, Takeda refuses to take her to Godzilla's location. Angered, Yuri goes alone. Mothra's cocoon is soon immediately discovered in Lake Ikeda. The SDF dispatch several fighter jets to stop Godzilla but are quickly defeated by the monster. Tachibana sets up a defense line in Yokohama. Mothra and a yet-to-be-grown Ghidorah awaken and fly towards Yokohama where Godzilla is spotted. Mothra arrives first and battles the monster. Ghidorah arrives moments later and joins the fray. After brutally pinning down both monsters, the SDF engage Godzilla with D-03 missiles; but to no avail, as the missiles fail.
Enraged, Godzilla swiftly destroys nearly the entire defense line using his atomic breath. Mothra rises for a surprise attack, but Godzilla kills her with his atomic breath. Mothra's spirit intertwines with Ghidorah and transforms him into the 3,000 year old dragon King Ghidorah. King Ghidorah injures Godzilla and takes the battle underwater. Tachibana and his colleague join the fight using the Satsuma submarine. Tachibana plans to shoots a D-03 into Godzilla's wound but fails after several attempts, even accidentally hitting King Ghidorah with one of the missiles. Yuri and Takeda report the struggle from a bridge that later collapses from Godzilla's atomic breath.
- Chiharu Niiyama as Yuri Tachibana
- Ryūdō Uzaki as SDF Admn. Taizo Tachibana
- Masahiro Kobayashi as Teruaki Takeda
- Shirō Sano as Haruki Kadokura
- Kaho Minami as SDF Intelligence Captain Kumi Emori
- Shinya Ōwada as SDF Lieutenant General Katsumasa Mikumo
- Kunio Murai as SDF HQ Secretary Masato Hinogaki
- Hiroyuki Watanabe as Yutaka Hirose
- Takashi Nishina as AD Aki Marou
- Shingo Katsurayama as SDF Intelligence Major Tokihiko Kobayakawa
- Toshikazu Fukawa as Adjutant Miyashita
- Hideyo Amamoto as Professor Hirotoshi Isayama
- Ryo Kase as Fisher
- Mizuho Yoshida as Godzilla
- Akira Ohashi as King Ghidorah
- Rie Ota as Baragon
Director Shūsuke Kaneko's original script originally had Anguirus, Varan and Baragon defend Japan against Godzilla, but Toho told him to replace the former two with the more popular King Ghidorah and Mothra, as Anguirus and Varan were not considered bankable enough to guarantee a box-office hit. Skeptical at first, he managed to work the two monsters into the film. American fans were upset that Baragon was chosen to remain instead of Anguirus but the reason for this was that Baragon was popular in Japan despite only appearing in two kaiju films also distributed by Toho.
The film is especially notable for the changes made to the monsters. For example, Ghidorah typically played the villain in previous Godzilla films; this film has him as a hero. In fact, Ghidorah is actually portrayed a few meters shorter than Godzilla; previous incarnations of the character were much larger, and towered over Godzilla.
Originally, Godzilla was intended to walk with his back and tail parallel to the ground however, this idea was dropped due to the strain it put on Mizuho Yoshida (the actor playing Godzilla), and Godzilla retains his traditional posture.
Mothra was also revamped. Like Ghidorah, Mothra is portrayed as being far smaller than normal and looking more like a Butterfly than a Moth. Her poison powder and hurricane wind attacks were removed, and were replaced with a burst of stingers fired from her abdomen. In addition, Mothra's fairy servants, the Shobijin, are dropped completely, (though a homage exists in the form of twins from Gamera 3: Awakening of Irys who look up in awe at Mothra as she flies overhead).
Baragon was also altered. His heat ray was removed, his roar was changed and his horn is no longer bioluminescent.
Apparently, the reason behind the changes to Ghidorah, Mothra, and Baragon were made in order to make Godzilla seem stronger. Director Kaneko wanted Godzilla to be the most powerful monster in the film. He originally wanted to use monsters who are notably smaller and less powerful than Godzilla, as his opponents. When advised by Toho to replace them, he compensated by making Ghidorah and Mothra weaker than they normally were. Fuyuki Shinada, who designed the monster suits for the film, was disappointed that Varan (his all-time favorite monster) wasn't going to be in the film, so he compromised by putting Varan's facial features on Ghidorah's three heads.
In addition, the radioactive element has been replaced with a more mystical element. Godzilla has origins rooted in Japan's World War II past. Although Godzilla is still a mutant dinosaur created by the atomic bomb, he is also described as an incarnation of those killed or who were left to die at the hands of the Imperial Japanese Army during the Pacific War. The extent to which his nuclear and spiritual origins balance is never specified. Kaneko, a lifelong pacifist, did this to boost the anti-war angle of the original Godzilla. It was also because he knew that audiences wanted a realistic Godzilla, but there was no realistic way to explain a 60-meter mutant dinosaur, so he thought it worked better with a fantasy element.
Produced with a budget of $9,400,000, Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack opened in Japan on December 15, 2001 on a double-bill with an animated film called Hamtaro: Ham Ham Big Land Adventure. In its opening weekend, it grossed approximately $1,900,000. By the end of its box office run, Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack grossed a total of approximately $20,000,000, with 2,400,000 admissions. It was the largest-grossing Godzilla film of the Millennium series in Japan.
Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack holds a 54% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on thirteen reviews. Troy Guinn of Eccentric Cinema gave the film a score of 8/10, calling it "one of only three Godzilla films I would recommend to anyone besides giant monster-movie fans or sci-fi buffs, the other two being the original Gojira and Mothra vs. Godzilla." Bryan Byun of DVD Verdict gave it a positive review, calling it "one of the most exciting entries in Godzilla's long cinematic history." Stomp Tokyo gave the film a score of 3/5, calling it "one of the better-looking entries in the series, albeit one of unfulfilled potential." John Wallis of DVD Talk felt that "the story is quite weak and somber" and that "this new take on [Godzilla] doesn't really work," while Gemma Tarlach of the Milwaukee Journal said that "GMK is best when it embraces its unabashed cheesiness. But when it tries to make Statements with Meaning, whether on Japan's past aggressions or ersatz samurai ruminations on the duty of a warrior, the movie flounders like a giant lizard hogtied by power lines." Film critic Leonard Maltin gave it three out of four stars, one of only two Godzilla films to receive more than two and a half stars, with the other being Godzilla 2000.
After the film was completed, Toho had their international versions of the movie dubbed in Hong Kong. This dubbed version significantly changes the meaning of several lines throughout the film.
Sony licensed GMK and Godzilla vs. Megaguirus with the hope of giving both films a theatrical release in the United States. Sony's release of Godzilla 2000 proved that traditional Godzilla films failed to attract huge crowds of moviegoers, so plans to give any newer Godzilla films a wide release were scrapped.
Instead, Sony prepared edited television versions of both films. These premiered in the United States on the Sci-Fi Channel on August 31, 2003, during the channel's Labor Day marathon. In February 2004, the uncut international versions of both films were released on DVD with the addition of the original Japanese soundtracks (a first in the US).
Released: January 27, 2004
In 2002, the film won the Best Grossing Films Award - Silver Award.