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Monday, November 29th 2004

1:43 PM

Godzilla Invades Hollywood

  • Posted by: Steve Biodrowski
  • Event Date & Time: Unveiling Star on Walk of Fame
  • Location: Grauman's Chinese Theatre, 6925 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood
  • In Person: Johnny Grant, Michael Antonovich, Shogo Tomiyama

In honor of his 50 years of cinema history, Godzilla received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 11:30 a.m. today, in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. The half-hour ceremony was hosted by Johnny Grant, the honorary mayor of Hollywood; also present were Los Angeles City Councilman Michael Antonovich and film producer Shogo Tomiyama.

The sidewalk outside the theatre was blocked off to allow access for the press only; the area was filled with television cameras from both domestic and foreign outlets. Pedestrians were diverted onto the right lane of Hollywood Blvd, which was sectioned off with metal blockades to protect onlookers from traffic.

Of course, the hundreds of fans who showed up, blocking sidewalk traffic, were there to see Godzilla, and they were not disappointed, but they did have to wait for the mon-star to appear. In the meantime, fans could content themselves with a man-in-a-suit Mecha-Godzilla, who politely posed for pictures nearby.


Mechagodzilla prowls outside
Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

Johnny Grant kicked off the ceremony by reciting some basic film facts about Godzilla’s on-screen history, although he admitted that most in the crowd probably knew far more on the subject than he.

Then loudspeakers piped in Akira Ifukube’s famous Godzilla theme music, accompanied by the monster’s familiar roar, while Godzilla himself stalked out and posed menacingly for the cameras.

The exhibition Godzilla suit was a big improvement over the one last seen in Los Angeles back in 1996. Modeled after Godzilla’s appearance in the latest films, the suit was less flabby and more closely matched the actual costumes used in the films.

Ironically, the man-inside-the-suit seemed to be about the shortest person in the ceremony. If you were not an early bird who got a ringside seat up front, it was difficult to see Godzilla at first, until he took a place up on the podium beside Johnny Grant.


Godzilla ppears with honorary mayor Johnny
Grant outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

Then Mr. Grant turned the microphone over to producer Shogo Tomiyama, the Japanese producer in charge of the recent Godzilla films. Tomiyama made the following remarks:

“We are really happy the Japanese-born Godzilla is honored in America. He should be feeling like a Japanese kid allowed to play…major league baseball,” Tomiyama joked, referring to Hideki Matsui, the New York Yankees player, nicknamed “Godzilla,” who made a cameo in 2002’s GODZILLA AGAINST MECHAGODZILLA. Tomiyama continued, “I thank the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce…for giving [Godzilla] the star. I would also like to thank Mr. Michael Antonovitch for the resolution [proclaiming] Godzilla Month.”

The producer went on to thank the American Cinematheque for its 50th anniversary Godzilla film festival held back in July; also mentioned were J.D. Lees (editor of G-FAN magazine) and Steve Ryfle (author of JAPAN’S FAVORITE MON-STAR). Finally, the producer thanked “all Godzilla fans in North America for their enthusiastic support. Without them, Godzilla and I would not be here.”

Tomiyama then went on to credit producer Tomoyuki Tanaka, director Ishiro Honda, and effects director Eija Tsuburaya for creating Godzilla back in 1954. “Since then, Godzilla has been loved by people around the world as the representative of Japanese cinema, especially here in the States,” the producer said. “Many people loved Godzilla, and many directors grew up watching his movies.

One of the biggest charms of Godzilla is that you feel empathy with him when you watch his films,” he continued. “Godzilla was born as the result of H-Bomb explosions. Godzilla destroys cities, but at the same time he [criticizes] destruction by mankind, as you can understand from his genesis.”

Next, city councilman Michael Antonovich presented Godzilla with a copy of the resolution he helped pass, proclaiming November Godzilla Month in Los Angeles. Stepping back to the microphone, Johnny Grant went a step further: in honor of the day’s ceremony and upcoming evening’s world premier of GODZILLA: FINAL WARS at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Grant proclaimed that “Godzilla Day in Los Angeles.”


Godzilla's Star on the Walk of Fame

No doubt, many American movie fans will scratch their heads over the propriety of awarding a Hollywood star to Godzilla, a character often associated with bad dubbing and cheap special effects, at least in the minds of Western viewers. However, one of the things Hollywood rewards is success, and success can be measured not only in ticket sales but also in longevity. 50 years of movies (not to mention toys, games, and collectibles) have made the character an instantly recognizable icon of not only of Japanese cinema in particular but also of science fiction cinema in general.

Godzilla is a triumph of pop entertainment: his films are sometimes good, sometimes bad, but almost always fun. On occasion they have served as serious metaphors, reflecting the concerns of Japanese society; more often, they have simply served as colorful entertainments, filled with action and special effects that delight the eye even if they are not totally convincing. In a sense, he is the Japanese equivalent of comic book superhero characters like Batman and Superman, whose films require a willing suspension of disbelief if they are to be enjoyed.

FINAL WARS is the 28th film in the Godzilla series. Toho, the studio that makes the films, claims that this will be the last – a piece of news that is not welcome to Godzilla fans. Still they can take hope from the final words of producer Tomiyama:

“This year, GODZILLA: FINAL WARS is the last Godzilla film. But…as long as Godzilla keeps [entertaining] people, Godzilla will be resurrected by a new generation of filmmakers in the future.”

RELATED LINKS:

Godzilla: Final Wars World Premier

Godzilla Day in L.A.

Godzilla Director Mazaaki Tezuka Interview

Godzilla (a.k.a. Gojira) Film Review

Godzilla Photo Gallery

10 Comments.

Posted by DERRICK NEWSOME:

FOR GODZILLA LAST MOVIE WHY NOT KEEP HIM THE SAME AS GODZILLA2000 I LIKE HIM BETTER BUT STILL A BIG G-FAN;)
Friday, January 7th 2005 @ 8:25 PM

Posted by Steve Folger:

Happy Birthday, Big G. I will miss you during your long sabbitacal until your next movie. Can't wait to see Final Wars if it comes to the USA for a second release. :)
Wednesday, December 29th 2004 @ 10:52 PM

Posted by Jonathan:

I have been a Godzilla fan since birth so if you add that up I have been into Godzilla for 14 years. It feels good to know that the origional Godzilla can be recognized instead of that overgrown American lizard, GODZILLA! And this wont be the last Godzilla movie....with enough fan requests, complaints, and interest we can bring Godzilla back!:)
Friday, December 10th 2004 @ 7:13 PM

Posted by malcolm:

I've been a godzilla fan since I was two and I'm 23:)
Thursday, December 9th 2004 @ 5:30 PM

Posted by Anonymous:

o:)
Wednesday, December 8th 2004 @ 9:15 AM

Posted by Hollywood Gothique:

Can't believe no one else bothered to get shots of Mechagodzilla. I may still have another one (if it hasn't been deleted from the digital camera!) Maybe I should post it, too.
Saturday, December 4th 2004 @ 4:27 PM

Posted by Dave:

thanks for putting up a pic of my Mech G costume, you are the only guys that have, I really appreciate it, I don't have any pics from that event besides this one, but it is great. I fanybody out there has one lmk thanks
Friday, December 3rd 2004 @ 11:56 PM

Posted by Jose Sanchez:

I`ve been a Godzilla fan since i was 8 years old,i`m now 42 and i still love the Godzilla movies.
Tuesday, November 30th 2004 @ 3:40 PM

Posted by Gilbert:

its great that godzilla finally got his star in hollywood, he truely desirves it. I love Godzilla!!!!!! ive watched Godzilla since i was born and its great to still enjoy it even though im almost 17, Godzilla is something i could never grow out of, keep up the great work to the makers of Godzilla, your all the best!!1
Tuesday, November 30th 2004 @ 7:35 AM