In addition to asking which monsters might appear in the sequel, one of the big questions at the “Godzilla” premiere’s “Aftermath Afterparty” was where a 22-foot statue of the “King of the Monsters” would end up.
Standing in the middle of the party behind Hollywood’s El Capitan Theater, a Godzilla sculpture made of rubble towered over guests that included executives from Toho, which owns the rights to the Japanese icon, the film’s stars Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe and Elizabeth Olsen. Nerdist Industries’ Chris Hardwick, directors Nick Stoller (“Neighbors”) and Joe Dante were also on hand to celebrate the return of the atomic fire-breathing lizard stomping back into theaters May 16.
The final film, which unspooled inside Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre, is a culmination of two years of work for director Gareth Edwards, whose only previous film credit is the $500,000-budgeted “Monsters.” Standing near the entrance of the party, where guests walked past overturned cars, the director took in the scene of his first big budget summer movie.
“When I go to bed, I have dreams more grounded and realistic than my days are at the moment. I actually feel like this is not really happening.” – Gareth Edwards
“Honestly don’t feel like what happened, happened,” he added of the black carpet event, where promotional partner Fiat parked a car with spiky scales. “It’s so weird. This is so not a normal day.”
“We had a midnight screening at the Alamo Drafthouse (of ‘Monsters’) and the projector broke halfway through, and I kind of thought that’s the end of my career,” Edwards recalled. That clearly wasn’t the case when he got the call by Legendary chief Thomas Tull to direct “Godzilla.”
Making a movie “is like child birth,” Edwards said. “It’s incredibly painful making a film like this. I loved conceiving this but the actual process of getting that film is incredibly stressful and painful, then the reward is things like tonight. I get worried that tonight is going to delete all my bad memories and make me think that it was so much fun I’d do it again.”
Given the reaction inside the Dolby, which included outbursts of cheers whenever Godzilla was on screen, it’s clear Legendary will ring up Edwards to return should audiences want to see a sequel.
For now, he has his memory of “Godzilla” playing inside the home of the Oscars.
“I wanted to step on the stage and thank the Academy, thank my mom and Warner Bros.,” he joked.
The afterparty, during which guests dined on sushi and grilled meat on skewers, featured props and elements from last year’s “Godzilla Encounter” that Legendary produced for San Diego Comic-Con, including the working ramen noodle restaurant, display of Godzilla figures and merchandise and imagery to celebrate the character’s pop culture status.
“Godzilla” screenwriter Max Borenstein (“The Seventh Son”) realized “there is no one answer to what a Godzilla movie is when I started getting into it. Godzilla is different in every movie. Coming in you say, ‘Oh my God, I can’t screw it up for the purists,’ but then you go what is a purist? Godzilla evolves and changes over the past 60 years. He’s a vessel for whatever the fear of the moment is that makes us as mankind terrified of our own impotence — the powerlessness in the face of nature.”
Telling that kind of tale required embracing a human story that tapped into natural disasters and cataclysms that people have no power over, Borenstein said. “If you don’t connect, it’s just a bunch of sound and fury.”
Just how much Godzilla you show in the film also was a balancing act.
“If you give it all away upfront there’s nowhere to build to,” he said. “It was always about modulation along the way and not frustrating the audience but keeping them wanting more until the very end when you deliver the goods. It’s about fine-tuning an engine.”
Borenstein rewatched all of the 28 “Godzilla” movies produced by Toho over the past six decades — the first is his favorite. But “I have a fondness for all of them,” he said. “I wanted to deduce what made them popular over the years and it came down to that force of nature aspect,” and for his version, the screenwriter tried to “reinvent it in a way that felt like it paid homage” to the previous films “but wasn’t beholden to fan service.”
As for that Godzilla statue, “I thought they were going to set it on fire like the ‘Wicker Man,'” Edwards said, referring to the British horror film in which a giant statue is set ablaze by a cult.
But Legendary and Warner Bros., which is distributing the film, didn’t light it up. Shortly after the party ended, the big beast was moved across the street to stand watch in front of the TCL Theatre.