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Japanese Warm Up to Idea of American ‘Godzilla’

The Internet rumor that the Japanese see the new made-in-America “Godzilla” as “super-sized” and “too fat” is all wrong, Toho would like you to know.

“It’s just a small number of people saying that,” explains Toho PR rep Yosuke Ogura. “The number of people here who are OK with the new ‘Godzilla’ is a lot larger.”

Toho is the Japanese distributor of the film, and owns the underlying Godzilla property.

He favorably compares the look of the title monster in the Gareth Edwards pic to that in the 1998 Roland Emmerich “Godzilla,” which he frankly labels a “disaster.”

“This new Godzilla is closer in spirit to the original,” he says of the Legendary Entertainment-produced film. “If you just see the trailer, you might get the idea that he’s ‘fat’ or whatever, but once you see the whole film, as I have, I think your opinion will change.”

SEE ALSO: ‘Godzilla’ Director Gareth Edwards, Legendary’s Thomas Tull on Doing the ‘King of the Monsters’ Justice

Local fan opinion is more diverse than earlier negative media reports implied.

A glance at recent comments on the popular 2channel message board site reveals more anticipation than snark, now that additional info about the film has appeared, including early reviews.

Gareth Edwards has made a full-bore, completely new ‘Godzilla’ that will be accepted around the world,” opines one poster. “I think it will be an immortal masterpiece.”

Fat jokes are nowhere in sight.

Japan, however, will be the last major market to view the latest Hollywood iteration of the iconic franchise that Toho launched in 1954 with the first of 28 made-in-Japan Godzilla pics: The studio plans to release “Godzilla” on July 25, nearly six weeks after its U.S. bow, but not out of any uncertainty about its success.

“That’s just the best timing,” explains Ogura. “It’s when big movies are released here.”

One recent example is the Hayao Miyazaki animation “The Wind Rises,” a Toho release that opened on July 20, 2013, and became the year’s highest-earning pic with $117 million.

One reason for this timing is that Japanese schools do not begin their summer break until mid-July. But Toho, Ogura emphasizes, does not consider “Godzilla” kiddie fare. “Of course, children will be able to see it – it’s rated for all ages,” he says, “but our primary target is adults.”

Toho is still sorting out its release strategy, though Ogura says the number of screens “will be as large as we can make it.”

One measure of comparison is the 454 screens Toho secured for “The Wind Rises.” “It will be in that range,” Ogura says.

Toho has not yet announced a B.O. target, but given the film’s $93 million weekend opening in the U.S., Toho can probably look forward to strong returns.

Its own risk is relatively limited, however, since it is not a production partner on “Godzilla,” a co-production of Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures.

As part of its celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the original “Godzilla”’s debut, Toho plans to release a digitally re-mastered version of the 1954 Ishiro Honda classic on June 7 at theaters nationwide.

Meanwhile, since March, Nihon Eiga Satellite Broadcasting, a Japanese movie specialty channel, has been broadcasting all 28 Toho-produced Godzilla pics as a lead-up to the July Japan release of “Godzilla,” including a 24-hour all-Godzilla lineup on May 5, during the Golden Week holiday. Also on the channel’s line-up are the 1998 Emmerich pic and “Godzilla, King of the Monsters,” the 1956 reworking of the original film for the U.S. market starring Raymond Burr.

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