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Editorials

1997-1998 - 1999 - 2000 - 2001 - 2002+



How Godzilla Affected Episode 1

Whether you liked Godzilla or not, there's no denying that Godzilla had an impact on Epsiode 1 on several levels. Here's a few I thought of. BTW, apologies for my grammar. I'm just an Aggie Engineer, you know. .

THE HYPE

Godzilla started blasting us with trailers a year before the film came out. There were billboards, ads, and merchandising out the wazoo. You couldn't turn around without seeing something Godzilla related. In the end, all of the money spent on the ad campaign was wasted money. In fact, it made some people very much turned off. Originally Fox was chomping at the bit to start hyping Episode 1. After all, they've given up quite a percentage of the profits on the film to Lucas, so they want to get a lot back. As you would expect, Fox immediately backed off when they saw the results of Godzilla's multi-million dollar ad campaign go down the toilet. That's one of the reasons why you probably won't see a trailer till Christmas. That, and also because Lucas said so. :)

THE PLOT

The "Plot Does Matter" poster, while a little harsh to ol' Devlin, did make a good point that Lucasfilm has stated all along. A good effect is nothing without a good story. (Still, I must admit, I didn't walk into a Godzilla film expecting Shakespeare. Wasn't it based on a movie about a man in a rubber suit stomping cardboard buildings?) Half of the hype around Godzilla was hiding the monster. However, as a friend of mine once said, if you can't deliver AFTER showing the creature, then it's simply not going to work. There's got to be a strong story behind it, and the audience expects it even more now than before. Hopefully Lucas can deliver.

THE THEATERS

The studios had unusually high requirements when it came to the number of screens showing the film and the percentage of profits each theater had to give up to show the film. When it went bust, they lost a lot. How will this affect Episode 1? Fewer theaters showing it? Lower confidence by theaters owners? It's kind of hard to tell. But Star Wars is rather special, and I think a lot of theater owners know that. Godzilla may have no effect at all on the distribution of the film.

THE MERCHANDISING

I'm not sure how well Godzilla toys are doing, but you've got to think that Star Wars licensees are watching how things go. However, they already have so much money wrapped up in the rights to the licensing, they better make good money at it. Just ask Galoob who's now almost bankrupt because of the situation. Will they blitz the market to get their money back or will they show the restraint that Lucasfilm might want them to? Judging by the popularity of Star Wars toys, it may not even matter at all. Star Wars toys are one of the top most successful lines around. The rules change here, too.

THE PRESS

The press is a lot like a shark. When they smell blood, they move in for the kill. The press smelled blood with Godzilla, and the critics ripped it to shreds. I can imagine the glee reviewers had as they looked up new words for "it sucked" in the Thesaurus for their articles. Why do they attack like that? They love to take the biggest, most hyped movies of the summer and find fault with them. Episode 1 has got to be the mother of all movies to take down a notch for them. Will they give it a chance or are their expectations too high (like the fans)?

Also, take the bogus report on the rumor that 40% of the footage was out of focus. Anyone who actually stopped to think about the probability of that occurring would realize the astronomical chances against it happening. However, that report made it to Yahoo News, E! Online, Jam Movies, a Chicago radio station, and even a newspaper in Sweden. All of these reports were solely based on unsubstantiated reports from the net, yet these "respectable" publications all reported on it. Will they print a correction? Highly doubtful. Why did they do it? It goes back to the "cut you down to size" mentality of the press.

These are just a few of my thoughts. I think you can see the same effect on other films. Disney learned it's lesson from it's previous films. Now Mulan is hitting the screens with a minimum of hype. It seems to be working, too.

One question to leave you with: what will be Lucasfilm's strategy overseas? It's a whole different ball game over there. To hype or not to hype? That is the question.

Scott Chitwood
6/19/98

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