Media Blasters Discusses DVD and Blu-ray Plans for DESTROY ALL MONSTERS and GODZILLA VS MEGALON
Distributor Dispels Recent Rumors and Provides Details on New Toho Acquisitions
Author: Keith Aiken
Source: Media Blasters, Inc.
Special Thanks to Carl Morano and Ed Godziszewski
A SciFi JAPAN EXCLUSIVE
On May 27th, the New York-based home video and theatrical distributor Media Blasters announced that they have acquired North American rights from Toho Co. for the Godzilla movies DESTROY ALL MONSTERS (怪獣総進撃, Kaiju Soshingeki, 1968) and GODZILLA VS MEGALON (ゴジラ対メガロ, Gojira tai Megaro, 1973). Both films will be released on Region 1 DVD and Blu-ray through the company’s live-action Asian cinema division, Tokyo Shock.
DESTROY ALL MONSTERS was previously issued on VHS and DVD in America by the now-defunct label, ADV Films. Debuting before Toho began releasing the Godzilla movies on DVD in Japan, the ADV disc was a completely bare bones release lacking even such basic features as menus or chapter stops. For several years unhappy Godzilla fans have repeatedly requested that DESTROY ALL MONSTERS be given a proper presentation in North America.
Once a staple of the “public domain” VHS market, GODZILLA VS MEGALON has never received an authorized Region 1 DVD release. A few video labels have issued unlicensed DVDs of the film sourced from poor quality, pan & scan television transfers, but these were quickly shut down by Toho. Contractual issues have kept the movie off the market in recent years, so Media Blasters’ upcoming DVD and Blu-ray will mark the first time GODZILLA VS MEGALON will be available on American home video with audio and widescreen video elements provided by Toho.
Over the past few months there has been a surge in fan interest and speculation regarding Media Blasters, GODZILLA VS MEGALON and DESTROY ALL MONSTERS. Much of the buzz has been fueled by hints and details that Media Blasters representatives have revealed at conventions or posted online, but there has also been an inordinate amount of misinformation and incorrect assumptions stated as “fact”. Now that deals are in place for both movies, Media Blasters has agreed to fill SciFi Japan readers in on the company’s plans for the two Godzilla films and hopefully clear up much of the recent confusion.
But before going behind the scenes we’ll start with a first look at Media Blasters’ press release for their new acquisitions…
MEDIA BLASTERS CAPTURES TWO CLASSIC GODZILLA EPICS!
(New York City) Amid a flurry of escalating internet rumors, Media Blasters Inc. and their Tokyo Shock label are proud to announce and confirm the acquisition of two vintage Toho produced Godzilla classics- DESTROY ALL MONSTERS and GODZILLA VS. MEGALON! For the first time, both films will be re-mastered in high definition and released on DVD and Blu-ray! DESTROY ALL MONSTERS will receive a worthy deluxe treatment to provide fans with a noticeable upgrade from its previous DVD incarnation. GODZILLA VS. MEGALON marks the first time that this long sought after title will be officially released uncut and widescreen on DVD and Blu-ray. Both films will feature exciting extras!
DESTROY ALL MONSTERS (1968) is universally considered a strong fan favorite of the entire Godzilla series! It’s an all-star monster rally of epic proportions featuring Toho’s greatest and wildest mammoth monsters in the ultimate, all-out rubber suit rumble! See Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, King Ghidorah, Anguirus, Minya, Spiega, Baragon, Gorosaurus, Manda and Varan in all their titanic glory! The film was directed by the famed Ishiro Honda, director of the original 1954 film and the last entry to feature the dream team of special effects supervisor Eiji Tsuburaya, music composer Akira Ifukube and producer Tomoyuki Tanaka.
“DESTROY ALL MONSTERS represents a high water mark in the Godzilla series for its sheer spectacle… It’s Godzilla movie heaven.” – stomptokyo.com
GODZILLA VS. MEGALON (1973) has been the most elusive Godzilla film in North America. This is the film that most baby-boomers saw in U.S. movie theaters and then had to rely on badly cropped VHS and DVD bootleg copies to enjoy the film thereafter. This entry features Godzilla taking on Megalon and Gigan with the help of the unforgettable growing robot, Jet Jaguar! Reportedly cut to receive a G-rating upon its U.S. release, the film was hosted by John Belushi in a Godzilla suit for its national TV premiere. Tokyo Shock will present the film uncut on DVD and Blu-ray for the first time!
“GODZILLA VS. MEGALON completes the canonization of Godzilla, the creature who came from beneath the sea… to destroy Tokyo and has returned in sequels again and again to protect the land he once loathed. It’s been a remarkable transformation of character- the dragon has become St. George.”– Vincent Canby, The New York Times
Stay tuned for release dates and more details!
Interview: Media Blasters’ Carl Morano
Carl Morano joined Media Blasters, Inc. in 2001 and is the Managing Director for both the parent company and its Fever Dreams, LLC division which handles film production and distribution (FLESH FOR THE BEAST, TOKYO GORE POLICE, DEATH KAPPA). He was directly involved in Media Blasters’ efforts to acquire DESTROY ALL MONSTERS and GODZILLA VS MEGALON from Toho.
SciFi Japan: When were the contracts signed for DESTROY ALL MONSTERS and GODZILLA VS MEGALON?
Carl Morano: The contracts were just signed last week. All the rumors and leaks broke before we had a deal for DESTROY ALL MONSTERS. A deal is not done until a contract is signed and that only happened last week. First there are negotiations and then verbal agreement until paperwork is generated. Nothing is definite until the contract is reviewed, revised a few times and signed. Luckily it worked out but the leaks and rumors were not based on reality at the time, just wishful thinking.
We had previously pursued rights to MEGALON a few years ago when we were producing our previous Toho package. At that time, MEGALON was not available.
SciFi Japan: Do you have a target date for when DESTROY ALL MONSTERS and GODZILLA VS MEGALON might be released?
Carl Morano: DAM is tentatively scheduled for October 25 but things can change. No date yet for MEGALON. We are currently reviewing materials for Blu-ray releases and will provide news updates in the coming months.
SciFi Japan: What formats are planned? Besides home video, did Media Blasters obtain any additional rights such as broadcast, streaming, or theatrical for these Godzilla films?
Carl Morano: Both Blu-ray and DVD. Blu-ray’s growth is steady but still slow while DVD is still the popular format.
We haven’t licensed theatrical rights on any of the Toho titles but they are open to approve theatrical or festival exhibition on an individual basis. I believe we have some limited rights for new media so you can expect more details soon.
SciFi Japan: Are there plans for Blu-ray/DVD combo packs like Media Blasters did for DEATH KAPPA, or would each film be released as separate Blu-ray and DVD editions?
Carl Morano: No definite plans but we’ve been favoring separate DVD and BD releases.
SciFi Japan: In the past, Toho has had concerns about “reverse importing” by Japanese fans when Godzilla movies were released on DVD in America first. Since DESTROY ALL MONSTERS and GODZILLA VS MEGALON are not yet available on Blu-ray in Japan, will that have any impact on how Media Blasters handles these films? For example, would you be prevented from using the HD restorations of the Godzilla movies that Toho and Nihon Eiga Satellite Broadcasting collaborated on back in 2008?
Carl Morano: We will have access to 35mm materials as well as Toho’s HD broadcast masters. We have access to the restorations and plan to release the films complete with some interesting extras. We will strive to produce the best Blu-rays we can.
SciFi Japan: Will the discs have both Japanese and English language versions for each movie?
Carl Morano: That’s being discussed right now. Toho has final approval on all the contents.
SciFi Japan: Will the movies be presented with dual audio tracks, or would separate English and Japanese versions be included?
Carl Morano: This is being investigated now and subject to Toho’s approval.
SciFi Japan: Both movies have English dubs prepared by Toho for international export, but DESTROY ALL MONSTERS also has a second English dub commissioned by distributor American International Pictures for the film’s original US release. The AIP version is generally considered by fans to be the superior dub, so is there any chance that it can be included on the upcoming DESTROY ALL MONSTERS discs?
Carl Morano: Stay tuned for updates. We will announce details in the coming months.
SciFi Japan: Media Blasters’ previous Toho DVDs featured many of the bonus features from the Region 2 Japanese discs. Will the same be done for these two films as well?
Carl Morano: We expect to carry over all the extras from the Japanese release pending Toho approval, of course.
SciFi Japan: What about new content? Is Media Blasters considering producing any new or exclusive extras (audio commentaries, image galleries, etc) for these releases?
Carl Morano: We hope to create some new extras that will cover the U.S. theatrical and TV releases. Again, this is subject to approval by the Licensor.
SciFi Japan: DESTROY ALL MONSTERS was previously released on VHS and DVD by ADV Films. It has been reported that ADV co-founder Matt Greenfield still held the rights to DESTROY ALL MONSTERS and those rights would not expire for several years. Was Greenfield involved in the process of Media Blasters getting the film?
Carl Morano: We dealt directly with Toho and they confirmed that reissue rights were available to us. We take them at their word! They are very trustworthy and meticulous in their licensing.
SciFi Japan: During the anime convention Naka-Kon this past February, a Media Blasters rep revealed that the company was negotiating for DESTROY ALL MONSTERS. Clearly this had been in the works for some time, but how long did it take for Media Blasters and Toho to make the deal for this film?
Carl Morano: We had just started talking to Toho about DESTROY ALL MONSTERS when the MB rep spoke to a fan and implied that it was a done deal. The person who leaked the information had no clear knowledge of how far advanced we were in our negotiations. The assumption by fans is that if you send Toho an email, the deal is done before they can even respond.
SciFi Japan: Did the licensing of GODZILLA VS MEGALON take an equal amount of time to work out?
Carl Morano: It was much quicker and we only went back to Toho after the internet rumors about MEGALON started flying. So we said why not check it out if there’s some excitement and demand for the title.
SciFi Japan: In late March there were widely circulated rumors that Media Blasters had already acquired GODZILLA VS MEGALON and work was being completed on extra features for a DVD or Blu-ray. That was quickly amended to claim that Media Blasters was negotiating with Toho in March and that prep work was underway for the DVD and extra features. Would you provide some insight on the validity of these reports?
Carl Morano: This was crazy and totally caught us by surprise. We had not acquired any new Toho titles at that time and never hired anyone to pursue supplementary materials for us nor to contact anyone associated with the films. Strangely, nobody thought to call us to confirm the rumors. Luckily it gave us the incentive to check into the availability of these two titles and things worked out. In the end, hopefully everybody will be happy.
SciFi Japan: The authors of the MEGALON rumors stated that their source was “not an employee of Media Blasters” but rather “someone who was going to work on the Special Features for the disc”. By late March, or even now (the first week of June), had Media Blasters lined up anyone— even informally— to work on MEGALON extras?
Carl Morano: Nobody was or is currently in our employ to work on special features for these titles.1 We don’t know the source of those rumors.
SciFi Japan: Would Media Blasters have begun prep work on a DVD and extra features for a film before they even had the rights secured?
Carl Morano: No. It would be a waste of our time and resources. Our staff has enough work dealing with our current release schedule.
SciFi Japan: Prior to this current deal, when did Media Blasters last look into acquiring GODZILLA VS MEGALON?
Carl Morano: We were interested in licensing MEGALON at the same time we acquired the previous Toho package that included MATANGO, FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD and the others [2005-2006]. We begged and promised to indemnify Toho if any rights issues might crop up in the U.S. They refused to re-license the title at that time.
SciFi Japan: Why did Media Blasters take another shot at getting the film now? Do you know why Toho finally approved the licensing this time?
Carl Morano: We are happy and grateful that Toho reissued the titles to us and it was the internet rumors that gave us the idea to pick up the phone and go for it! We figured it was a long shot but felt the timing was right. Thankfully, Toho felt the same.
This time, the previous licensing history was not an issue at all. So any confusion must have been luckily cleared up.
SciFi Japan: In late April, there was a report out of the Chiller Theatre Expo in New Jersey that Media Blasters may also be releasing THE RETURN OF GODZILLA/GODZILLA 1985, the only Godzilla movie not currently licensed to an American distributor.2 Has Media Blasters acquired this film, and if not, is there a possibility your company could get the rights in the near future?
Carl Morano: This rumor is new to us. We did inquire into this title previously and will probably try again in the near future. I remember this title was previously announced by another label years ago.
1. Home video labels such as Sony Pictures, Classic Media, and the British Film Institute have used a core group of film historians and writers— primarily contributors to SciFi Japan— to provide extra content for a number of Godzilla and Toho FX/daikaiju DVDs. Despite rumors to the contrary, to date no one from this group has been asked to work for Media Blasters on either DESTROY ALL MONSTERS or GODZILLA VS MEGALON.↩
2. While the 1989 movie GODZILLA VS BIOLLANTE has not been released on Region 1 DVD, the film’s North American video rights have been held for nearly twenty years by Miramax. Miramax recently signed home video distribution deals with Lionsgate and Echo Bridge, but GODZILLA VS BIOLLANTE is not currently scheduled for DVD or Blu-ray. Check back with SciFi Japan for updates.↩
For more information, please see the earlier coverage here on SciFi Japan: