Over several decades worth of working in Hollywood, Jan de Bont directed such action classic as Speed and Twister, and was the cinematographer for a host of iconic thrillers and auctioneers, including Die Hard, Basic Instinct, and The Hunt for Red October. In an interview with Polygon, de Bont revealed he came close to adding another iconic franchise to his name when he met with Japanese producers back in the ’90s to make an American version of Godzilla.
“I went to Japan, I met with the people at the studio, and they loved my version. It was basically that the visual effects at the time, and also special effects-like the way they did in the [original] Godzilla movies, which, I had copies of all of them-it became a battle about the budget. So the person who ended up doing the movie said that he could do it for like $40-50 million less than my budget. Mine was, I think, around $100 million or so. Of course, that never happens-and his film ended up costing almost twice as much as my budget. Unfortunately, they believed him.”
Here, Jan de Bont who was chosen in place of de Bont was Roland Emmerich, who went on to make the 1998 film Godzilla, where a T-rex looking monstrosity purporting to be Godzilla attacked New York. While the film made a profit, it was not considered a big hit, and fans of the original Japanese version of Godzilla criticized Emmerich’s design for the giant lizard for being more inspired by Jurassic Park than previous Godzilla movies. According to de Bont, his take on the Godzilla mythology would have been more faithful to the characters’ origins.
“The writers I had were fantastic, the script was so good. It stayed true to the old Godzilla movies, but then taking place in the United States, which [the other movie] kept. But then they started by changing Godzilla! You cannot do that! After so many years, and everybody loving Godzilla, why would you want to change it? That was a big mistake. And then it became all about special effects, and that is never a good thing. I met some of the directors who did the earlier Godzilla movies-they were nice people, and the studio loved the take on it. We were really far into pre-production: set designs, locations, and then they saw the budget. ‘Oh no, we don’t spend that much money on the Godzilla movie.’ Then they end up spending twice as much money.”
It seems Hollywood came to see the issue from de Bont’s point of view, even if it took them 16 years to get there. In 2014, Legendary Entertainment rebooted Godzilla with a new movie. This time around, the monster was much more faithful to the old Toho movies. Hollywood’s new Godzilla film proved successful enough to spawn an entire Monsterverse franchise. The franchise will culminate in the upcoming Godzilla vs. Kong, which will see Asia’s most famous kaiju go head-to-head against Hollywood’s biggest monster movie icon, King Kong. This news originated at Polygon.