The film was released direct to video in the United States in 1998 by Columbia Tristar Home Video as Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth.
A large meteor hurtles towards earth, lands in the ocean and awakens Godzilla. One particularly large typhoon is monitored over the Pacific ocean. The next day, a young man named Takuya Fujita is detained after stealing an ancient artifact. Later, a representative of the Japanese Prime Minister arrives with Takuya's ex-wife, Masako Tezuka, and offers him to explore an island with Masako and Marutomo company secretary, Kenji Ando, and become a free man. Takuya initially turns down the offer, on the basis that he is to be released in another week. But after his ex-wife informs him that his sentence has been reconsidered, he accepts. After the trio arrives at the island, they find a cave behind a waterfall. Inside, they discover ancient paintings, including a picture of two giant insects fighting one another. While studying them, the sun shines through a hole in the wall, and the light points to a small opening in the cave, where they come upon a giant egg. The three hear a pair of voices, which belong to the Cosmos. They keep the earth's natural order in balance, and informs them the egg belongs to Mothra.
The Cosmos tell of an ancient, advanced civilization that tried to control the earth's climate. In return, the earth created Battra. Battra became uncontrollable, and started to harm the very planet that created it. Mothra, another earth protector, fought a fierce battle with Battra, who eventually lost. However, in the course of the battle, the civilization was destroyed. Mothra retired to Infant Island, and Battra the Northern Sea. Due to recent disasters, Mothra's egg has been uncovered, and the Cosmos fear that Battra has awoken as well.
After the ordeal at sea, Takuya, Ando, Masako, and the Cosmos stay overnight at a hotel. While Ando is drinking, Masako and Takuya have a discussion about the day's events, and about their history together. Masako awakens to discover that the Cosmos have gone missing, and immediately wakes up Takuya, who immediately realizes that Ando took them back to Takeshi. The two take a flight back to Tokyo, where Masako meets up with their daughter, Midori, her sister, Mayumi, and Professor Fukazawa. While they talk, Takuya leaves.
Mothra and Battra meet up at Yokohama Cosmo World, and proceed to battle. At this point, Godzilla shows up and Battra decides that Godzilla is a more important target, and attacks him instead. Godzilla soon defeats Battra. At this point, Mothra charges Godzilla with her rays. With Godzilla temporarily disabled, Mothra flies towards Battra, and revives him.
Tetsuya Bessho as Takuya Fujita
Satomi Kobayashi as Masako Tezuka
Takehiro Murata as Kenji Ando
Keiko Imamura and Sayaka Osawa as the Cosmos
Saburo Shinoda as Professor Fukazawa
Akiji Kobayashi as Yuzo Tsuchiashi
Megumi Odaka as Miki Saegusa
Akira Takarada as Jyoji Minamino
Makoto Otake as Takeshi Tomokane
Kenpachiro Satsuma as Godzilla, the King of the Monsters who gets mixed up in the battle between Mothra and Battra.
Mothra, a giant moth deity who at first fights Battra, but later convinces him to help her fight Godzilla.
Battra, an evil divine moth who battles Mothra but later helps her fight Godzilla.
Hurricane Ryu as the Battra larvae
After the film was released in Japan, Toho commissioned a Hong Kong company to dub the film into English. In this international version of the movie, an English title card was superimposed over the Japanese title, as had been done with Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991).
Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment released Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah and Godzilla vs. Mothra on home video on April 28, 1998. This was the first time either film had been officially released in the United States. TriStar used the Toho dubbed versions, but cut the end credits and created new titles and opening credits for both films. To avoid confusion with video releases of Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964), then titled Godzilla vs. Mothra, TriStar renamed the film Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth. Like Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, some VHS copies of the film opened and closed with the 1984 TriStar Pictures logo.
The film sold approximately 4,200,000 tickets in Japan, becoming the number one Japanese film on the domestic market in the period that included the year 1993. It made ¥2.22 billion in distribution income (roughly $20,000,000 [U.S]). It was the highest grossing film of the Heisei Godzilla series and, unadjusted for inflation, the highest grossing film of the entire franchise. Adjusted for inflation, the highest grossest film in the series is still King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962). It remains the fourth most-attended monster film in Japan, and the second biggest film in Asia, behind Jurassic Park.
Ed Godziszewski of Monster Zero said, "Rushed into production but a few months after Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, this film is unable to hide its hurried nature [but] effects-wise, the film makes up for the story’s shortcomings and then some." Japan Hero said, "While this movie is not the best of the Heisei series, it is still a really interesting movie. The battles are cool, and Battra was an interesting idea. If you have never seen this movie, I highly recommend it."
Home Media Releases (US)
Columbia/Tristar Home Entertainment
Released: November 10, 1998
Aspect Ratio: Full frame (1.33:1) [NTSC]
Case type: Keep Case
Region 1 (DVD)
Notes: Only in a double feature with Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991).
Blu-Ray will be coming out May 6, 2014 as a double feature with Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah.