Coming off the back of Independence Day, which ended its theatrical run as the second highest-grossing movie in history at the time, the world was Roland Emmerich’s oyster in the late 1990s.
The filmmaker had the clout to make whatever movie he wanted, so he obviously decided to sign up for one that he wasn’t particularly interested in. That was 1998’s Godzilla, which earned a solid $379 million at the box office in the summer of 1998, but was savaged by critics and panned by audiences.
In the aftermath, veterans of the Toho franchise, cast and crew members, fans of the gigantic lizard, and even Emmerich himself all blasted his terrible take on the iconic monster, with the latter revealing to The Hollywood Reporter that he never wanted to make Godzilla in the first place.
“I didn’t want to do Godzilla. But they made me a deal, which was unheard of. I said, “OK, let’s go about this really radically. I’m not doing big-belly Godzilla. I’m doing him as a lizard.” That was supposed to tell everybody I can’t do this movie. Toho said, “Oh, we’ll call this the new Godzilla, the Hollywood Godzilla. Then, we can still do our fat Godzilla.” I said, “Sh*t!” I was constantly working on my meteor film. It just got swept away by Godzilla, and then all of a sudden, Michael Bay came along and did it first.
As you can infer from his comments, a big fat pile of cash was evidently enough to convince Emmerich that Godzilla was worth his while. Not only did 1998’s dueling disaster epics Armageddon and Deep Impact scupper his chances of bringing his own in-development meteoric blockbuster to life, but unsuspecting viewers were subjected to one of the decade’s most widely-reviled effects-driven epics.