CLASSIC MEDIA Announces New GODZILLA DVDs
Classic Media has revealed plans to release a 2 disc DVD featuring both the original Japanese version of GODZILLA (Gojira, 1954) and the Americanized GODZILLA KING OF THE MONSTERS! (1956) starring Raymond Burr.
This marks the first ever US home video release of the Japanese GODZILLA. Toho has screened the film at a handful of festivals, but most fans’ first opportunity to see it came with the 2004-2005 50th anniversary theatrical release from Rialto Pictures. GODZILLA KING OF THE MONSTERS! has been a home video staple in the US for decades, having been issued several times on VHS, DVD, and laserdisc. Both films have been remastered and will be released in high definition.
Official Press Release:
The initial press release claimed that the GODZILLA 2-pack will be in widescreen, but Classic Media has stated that this was a mistake on their part. Both GODZILLA and GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS! will be in the correct 1.33:1 Academy Standard format.
Classic Media is a New York-based company specializing in recognizable family entertainment properties. The company was created in 1998 when a group of investors (including FORREST GUMP producer Steve Tisch) purchased the entertainment division of Golden Books. Classic Media soon acquired a wide range of properties such as the Lone Ranger, the Green Hornet, Lassie, the Harvey Comics animation library (including cartoons starring Richie Rich, Casper the Friendly Ghost, and Baby Huey), the television series UNDERDOG, and the Jay Ward Productions catalog (including the ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE show). The company also holds the rights to all Rankin/Bass television programming from 1960-1974 (including the popular holiday specials RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER, SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN, and FROSTY THE SNOWMAN), and last year Classic Media released two DVDs of Rankin/Bass’ KING KONG SHOW, the inspiration for the Toho film KING KONG ESCAPES (Kingu Kongu no Gyakushu, 1967).
Following the passing of United Productions of America head Henry Saperstein, Classic Media bought much of UPA’s library of films and shows, which included animated programs like MR MAGOO as well as a dozen or so Toho movies that UPA held US rights to. In 2002, Classic Media released a box set of five UPA Toho titles called “Godzilla- The Ultimate Collection”. The bargain-priced set was a big seller, but many Godzilla fans were disappointed by the poor print quality and pan and scan treatment of the films. Classic Media realized there was a market for these titles and began negotiations with Toho for better materials and Japanese language prints for a new wave of DVDs. During negotiations, Classic Media also renewed US rights to two more Godzilla films, GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN (Gojira no Gyakushu a.k.a. GIGANTIS THE FIRE MONSTER, 1955) and GHIDRAH THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER (San Daikaiju Chikyu Saidai no Kessen, 1964), which they had picked up years ago from Golden Books.
As a smaller independent company, Classic Media does not handle distribution of their DVDs. Instead they release their titles through other companies such as Sony Music Entertainment and Sony Wonder. This has created a widespread misperception among Godzilla fans that Classic Media is owned by Sony Pictures when in truth they are two separate companies with a standard distribution deal. Classic Media also has a similar arrangement with Rhino Home Video.
In addition to the information from the press release, USA Today revealed that Classic Media is considering extra features for the GODZILLA 2-pack such as an audio commentary (as with the recent DVD from the British Film Institute), and will also be releasing a box set of six remastered Godzilla films. Classic Media has confirmed to SciFi Japan that a DVD collection is in the works and a press release will be issued in the near future. While exact contents have not been revealed, the set is expected to include English and Japanese versions of all of Classic Media’s Godzilla titles; GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN, GODZILLA VS MOTHRA (Mosura tai Gojira a.k.a. GODZILLA VS THE THING, 1964), GHIDRAH THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER, MONSTER ZERO (Kaiju Daisenso a.k.a. GODZILLA VS MONSTER ZERO, 1965), GODZILLA’S REVENGE (Gojira, Minira, Gabara: Oru Kaiju Daishingeki, 1969), and TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA (Mekagojira no Gyakushu, 1975). Each film will be presented in widescreen with the exception of GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN (which was shot in the Academy aspect ratio).
Classic Media has promised more information soon, so check back with SciFi Japan in the days and weeks to come.