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Lizard stomps back to Toho

Studio to resurrect 'Godzilla' onscreen

TOKYO — Japanese film studio Toho Co. said Tuesday that it will dust off the rubber suit and bring its version of Godzilla back to the screen in order to appease legions of fans who did not like the Sony TriStar computer-generated lizard.

Filming will start in April for “Godzilla Millennium,” which will be in Japanese theaters for the 1999-2000 New Year’s holiday. No story line has been decided yet, but a team of three screenwriters is working on the script that will bring Godzilla back from his death in Toho’s previous monster camp film made in 1995.

The film will be the 23rd since the first “Godzilla” movie came out in 1954.

“Sony Pictures has asked us not to make our own version of ‘Godzilla,’ but there is no contractual relationship barring us from bringing back the Toho version of ‘Godzilla,’ ” a company spokesman said.

Toho told Daily Variety at the time of “Godzilla’s” release last summer that it was planning to bring the big lizard back to crush models of downtown Tokyo.

“The TriStar ‘Godzilla’ was a big hit, but we received numerous complaints from fans saying that they did not like the touches put on the monster for its move to America,” the spokesman said. “We do not want to lose the diehard ‘Godzilla’ fans.”

Toho gave the TriStar “Godzilla” one of the widest openings in modern Japanese films with showings in 389 theaters. The film’s first weekend was record-breaking, but the picture quickly limped out of Japan after taking in a respectable, but not overwhelming, $42 million at the box office.

“Deep Impact,” released about the same time as “Godzilla” in Japan proved to be the big film of the summer by taking in about $63 million at the box office. The film played about 200 theaters in the Shochiku circuit.