Godzilla is a 1998 American monster film directed and co-written by Roland Emmerich that is a reimagining of Toho's Godzilla franchise. It is the 23rd film in the Godzilla franchise and the first Godzilla film to be completely produced by a Hollywood studio.[Note 1] It stars Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno, Maria Pitillo, Hank Azaria, Kevin Dunn, Arabella Field, Michael Lerner, and Harry Shearer.
The film was a co-production between Centropolis Entertainment, Fried Films, Independent Pictures, and TriStar Pictures, with TriStar distributing theatrically, and Sony Pictures Entertainment for home media. It also marks the only time that producer Devlin and director Emmerich worked on an intellectual property (IP) they did not own. The film is dedicated to the memory of Godzilla franchise producer and creator Tomoyuki Tanaka, who died during the film's production.
The film was released on May 20, 1998, grossing $136 million domestically and $379 million worldwide, becoming the ninth highest-grossing film of 1998 domestically and third highest-grossing film of 1998 worldwide. Despite turning in a profit, it was considered a box office disappointment. The film swept the Golden Raspberry Awards in 1999, with two "wins" for Worst Remake or Sequel and Worst Supporting Actress and was nominated for Worst Picture, Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay. Two planned sequels were abandoned and an animated series, Godzilla: The Series, was produced instead.
After 2004, Toho (the Godzilla IP owners) began trademarking future incarnations of TriStar's Godzilla as "Zilla", with only the incarnations from the 1998 film and Godzilla: The Series retaining the Godzilla copyright and trademark. The character has since appeared in other media as "Zilla"
Following a nuclear test in French Polynesia back between the 1940s and 1950s, the fallout irradiates a lizard's nest. Decades later, an enormous sea creature suddenly attacks a Japanese fishing vessel in the South Pacific, leaving only one fisherman alive. Dr. Niko "Nick" Tatopoulos, an NRC biologist, is sent to Panama and Jamaica, where a wrecked village, footprints, and ship are found. Nick collects skin samples that lead him to believe the creature is an enormous mutant created by nuclear testing. It travels to New York City during the rainiest week of the season, leaving a path of destruction in its wake.
The city is evacuated before the military attempts to kill it but fails in an initial attempt. Nick later collects a blood sample, and after performing a pregnancy test, discovers that the creature reproduces asexually and is collecting food for its offspring. Aspiring journalist and ex-girlfriend of Nick's, Audrey Timmonds, uncovers a tape in his possession containing classified information about the creature. However, her superior, Charles Caiman, appropriates the tape as his own and broadcasts it on television, revealing the creature's nuclear origins in French Polynesia and its name, spoken by the surviving fisherman as "Gojira", which Caiman jumbles up as "Godzilla". With the classified information now released, Nick is removed from the operation, and abandons Audrey. Soon, he is kidnapped by Philippe Roaché, an "insurance guy" he met before coming to Manhattan. Revealing himself as an agent of the French secret service, Philippe and his colleagues have been keeping close watch on the events and plan to cover up their country's role in the nuclear testing that spawned Godzilla. Suspecting a nest somewhere in the city, they cooperate with Nick to trace and destroy it.
Following the military's second attempt to kill Godzilla, the creature dives into the Hudson River to escape. Attacked by US Navy submarines, including USS Utah (SSBN-745), it sinks to the river bed, presumably killed. Meanwhile, Nick and Philippe's strike team, followed by Audrey and her cameraman Victor "Animal" Palotti, find the nest inside Madison Square Garden and locate over 200 eggs. Before the French can succeed in destroying them, the eggs suddenly hatch and the offspring attack the strike team, killing most of them. Nick, Animal, Audrey and Philippe take refuge in the Garden's broadcast booth and send out a live news-report to alert the military of what will happen if the offspring escape. A prompt response involving an airstrike is initiated as the four escape moments before Air Force jets bomb the arena. Audrey and Nick reunite, before the adult Godzilla, having survived, emerges from the Garden's ruins. It chases the four across Manhattan, believing them responsible for the deaths of its young. After a taxi chase, they manage to trap Godzilla within the Brooklyn Bridge where the returning Air Force jets manage to shoot it down.