GODZILLA VS MEGALON Region 1 DVD/Blu-ray Rumors False
Media Blasters Not Releasing Special Edition Disc of 1973 Godzilla Film
Author: Keith Aiken
Source: Media Blasters, Inc., Toho Co. Ltd, various
Special Thanks to Steve Ryfle, Carl Morano, and Emiko Jade Frost
Over the past few days, Godzilla fandom has been abuzz over rumors that the 1973 film GODZILLA VS MEGALON was being readied for a deluxe release on US DVD and/or Blu-ray. Well known Japanese film historian August Ragone (author of Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters) broke the news, providing details in several online postings and an article which ran on his blog March 31st. Stressing that the report was “not some April Fool’s post”, Ragone stated that his source was “a relative of one of the people who worked on MEGALON” who had revealed that “a licensed DVD is being prepped, replete with special features — including an audio commentary — which are underway or being completed for an anamorphic disc for the US market.” He added that “we have been told that the film has been licensed by Media Blasters” and “Working on the special features are some of the same names who were associated with the Classic Media releases”.
The news was met with great enthusiasm from Godzilla fans. Unfortunately, it appears the report was incorrect.
Prior to these recent rumors, contributors to SciFi Japan were aware that Media Blasters had contacted Toho about licensing MEGALON for home video, but Toho informed them that the film was not available. Checking with Media Blasters on Friday, we were informed that this still holds true and the company does not have the rights to MEGALON and are not prepping a DVD. Responding to the online reports, Media Blasters’ Carl Morano wrote “this is all news to us! We don’t know how this rumor started. Thanks for coming to the source to verify this.”
GODZILLA VS MEGALON has had an odd history in the United States. Toho initially licensed the movie to Cinema Shares International, who distributed it to US theaters in 1976. Following the closure of Cinema Shares, the North American rights to MEGALON reportedly fell into the public domain and the film was released on VHS by countless low-rent video labels. In the late 1990s, Toho was able to reassert their ownership and began cracking down on the unauthorized home video versions. In 2002, Toho made an uncut, widescreen transfer of GODZILLA VS MEGALON available for airings on the Sci-Fi Channel.
In late 2005, Shozo Watanabe, then-GM of Toho’s LA office, revealed that Toho had licensed home video for GODZILLA VS MEGALON to GoodTimes Entertainment. But the video label went bankrupt before releasing an authorized DVD of the film, and the rights were in limbo while GoodTimes’ financial problems were worked out. It is unclear if that deal is still in effect or if the rights are now back with Toho, but in any case, Toho now has some concerns regarding paperwork from their original contract with Cinema Shares. Toho has always been extremely cautious when it comes to legal matters, so GODZILLA VS MEGALON is off the market in North America until they’re satisfied that everything is in order (Similar issues have held up a Region 1 DVD release of GODZILLA 1985/RETURN OF GODZILLA for years).
Obviously, with no Media Blasters GODZILLA VS MEGALON DVD in the works, neither are any special features being prepped for said DVD. The claim that people “associated with the Classic Media releases” were involved was a red flag because the Classic Media Toho DVD commentaries and extras were supervised by contributors and staff members of SciFi Japan. None of us have worked on special features for a MEGALON DVD.
Checking further, we contacted Emiko Jade Frost, daughter of the late MEGALON actor Robert Dunham. Frost replied that she had not heard anything about a planned DVD and had not contributed in any way to an upcoming release. Her understanding was that Toho was having problems with MEGALON due to the aforementioned legal issues.
We hate having to disappoint Godzilla fans who were excited by these rumors but believe it’s better to give the official word from Media Blasters than sit back and let misinformation continue to spread. (Note: Ragone’s blog has been revised since it was initially posted, and references to the Media Blasters deal being in place, the special features contributors, and work being completed on the DVD have been removed.)
One positive note comes from Media Blasters, who have said that they occasionally check in with Toho regarding the rights for GODZILLA VS MEGALON. If and when the film becomes available Media Blasters would like to acquire it for US home video.