Exclusive: THE RETURN OF GODZILLA Blu-ray & DVD Details from Kraken Releasing
Author: Keith Aiken
Source: Section23 Films, Kraken Releasing
Special Thanks to Matt Greenfield and Mike Bailiff
A SCIFI JAPAN EXCLUSIVE
Kraken Releasing today announced that they have licensed Toho’s THE RETURN OF GODZILLA (1984) for Blu-ray and DVD in North America. The discs will be available starting September 13, 2016 at the SRPS of $14.98 (Blu-ray) and $9.98 (DVD).
THE RETURN OF GODZILLA relaunched the Godzilla franchise after a nine year break. Rather than pick up where the last movie — TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA (メカゴジラの逆襲, Mekagojira no Gyakushuu, 1975) — had left off, Toho and producer Tomoyuki Tanaka chose to make the new film a direct sequel to the original GODZILLA (ゴジラ, Gojira, 1954) that would ignore the events of the previous 14 sequels. Opening in Japan in December 1984 as GODZILLA (ゴジラ, Gojira, 1984), the movie launched a second wave of Godzilla films that ran until 1995.
Shortly after GODZILLA ’84’s Japanese release, the film was soon dubbed in English by Toho and offered for international sales as THE RETURN OF GODZILLA. North American rights were acquired by New World Pictures, who — aping the US edit of the first GODZILLA in 1956 — recut and re-dubbed the movie while adding new American-shot scenes. Released to theaters as GODZILLA 1985, the Americanized version of THE RETURN OF GODZILLA was later distributed on television and home video (laserdisc, VHS), but disappeared in the years following New World’s end in 1997.
The agreement between Toho and New World expired more than a decade ago. But, concerned over an legal issue regarding the 1985 New World contracts, Toho decided to withhold THE RETURN OF GODZILLA for circulation until they determined how best to handle the situation. Despite years of fan petitions calling for the film’s release, THE RETURN OF GODZILLA became the only Toho Godzilla movie unavailable on DVD and/or Blu-ray in North America.
In late spring/early summer of 2015, Toho finally began offering the film to distributors in North America. The studio recently struck a deal with Kraken Releasing, the label behind the 2014 Blu-ray/DVD releases of the Godzilla classics EBIRAH: HORROR OF THE DEEP (ゴジラ・エビラ・モスラ 南海の大決闘, Gojira Ebira Mosura Nankai no Daikettoo, 1966), GODZILLA VS HEDORAH (ゴジラ対ヘドラ, Gojira Tai Hedora, 1971) and GODZILLA VS GIGAN (地球攻撃命令 ゴジラ対ガイガン, Chikyuu Kogeki Meirei Gojira Tai Gaigan, 1972).
“I’ve been waiting for the rights to become available for a long time,” Kraken Co-Founder/Managing Director Matt Greenfield told SciFi Japan. “I’ve been a huge Godzilla fan since I was a kid, and if I recall correctly, the first time I actually asked about this title was about twenty years ago when ADV Films was licensing DESTROY ALL MONSTERS and GUNHED [Greenfield’s previous label]. Needless to say, the rights weren’t clear at the time, and they weren’t still clear when Kraken acquired GODZILLA VS. HEDORAH, GIGAN, and EBIRAH. That was two years ago, and since then it’s just been a waiting game, checking in with the folks at Toho every time I was in Tokyo until they finally gave the all clear.” Kraken Releasing now has the rights for Videogram (DVD, Blu-Ray, etc.), Television, Internet and Mobile for the U.S.A. and Canada.
Kraken’s Blu-ray and DVD will feature the uncut Japanese language and Toho English dubs of THE RETURN OF GODZILLA, neither of which have been commercially available in North America. “The original materials came from Toho, but we have a fantastic production team and studio that’s been going through and massaging everything. It’s a huge improvement over my old Japanese laserdisc and I think the fans will be quite happy with the picture and audio.”
Greenfield also stated that the Americanized version GODZILLA 1985 will, unfortunately, not be included. “That’s a big part of why it’s taken so long to announce this title. We tried, but unlike the Classic Media [Godzilla/Toho DVD] releases, where the dubs used were controlled by one company, the GODZILLA 1985 situation is a mess,” he explained.
“Between all the changes of ownership and title that have occurred after New World released their version, the fact that you’re dealing with two entirely different production teams belonging to different sets of unions, and the fact that music from another film by a different composer was reused in NW’s dub [GODZILLA 1985 used music from Christopher Young’s soundtrack for the New World Pictures movie DEF-CON 4]… there’s a point where it became clear that it just wasn’t going to happen. And it’s not just that it would cost more than the title could probably make to try and clear all the myriad of issues, but that you’d be on pins and needles waiting for someone to pop up and make a claim over something you’d missed for years afterward.”
Regarding bonus features, Greenfield stated that the Blu-ray/DVD will “mirror our previous Kraken Godzilla releases, with trailers for this and the other titles. I know there were some great materials made for ROG back when the show initially came out, but Toho wasn’t able to clear them. As a fan it can be frustrating when something that you know exists isn’t available, but the film business is still a business. That means sometimes we’re stuck with situations where we have to work around deals that were made by other people many years ago, and 30 years is the point where a lot of contracts start to expire.”
In closing, Matt Greenfield expressed his excitement over being able to bring THE RETURN OF GODZILLA back for fans old and new. “I’ve been working with anime and Japanese live action films for nearly 25 years now… long enough that I now automatically type a ( R ) after the name Godzilla®… and this is one of the films that’s always been on my kaiju to-do bucket list.” he said. “I’m really thrilled to be able to cross it off, along with our previous 3 Godzilla® releases, and hope a whole new generation of North American fans will find these amazing films to be just as thrilling and enjoyable as I did when I first saw them.”*
Title: THE RETURN OF GODZILLA
Published by: Kraken Releasing
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Age Rating: TV PG (V)
Run Time: 103 Minutes
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
Number of Discs: 1
Street Date: 9/13/2016
Blu-ray UPC: 814131015594
DVD UPC: 814131011299
Blu-ray SRP: $14.98
DVD SRP: $9.98
The official press release…
May 19, 2016 — You can’t keep a good giant monster down, especially when he’s being very, very bad! Kraken Releasing is proud to continue the tradition of releasing the very best in kaiju (giant monster) entertainment with the first U.S. release of the complete and uncut THE RETURN OF GODZILLA® (aka GODZILLA™ (1984))! Available on both Blu-ray and DVD, and featuring both the original Japanese version with English subtitles, as well as an English dubbed version, this special release is the Godzilla® epic that fans and collectors have been waiting for.
With a higher budget and more advanced special effects than any previous film in the series, THE RETURN OF GODZILLA® returns Japan’s greatest monster to his intended role as an epic force of destruction and the film’s spectacular success re-launched the Godzilla® franchise after nearly a decade in suspended animation.
Unfortunately for North American audiences, this direct sequel to the original 1954 feature film has previously only been available in a highly edited version that cut over twenty minutes of original footage and effects, changed key plot points and altered the dark dramatic tone and narrative by inserting additional scenes and humor in an attempt to “Americanize” the film. But now, at long last, the acclaimed kaiju masterpiece finally hits American shores in all its uncut original glory! Get ready for the biggest Godzilla® epic that you’ve never seen as Kraken Releasing unleashes the complete and unedited THE RETURN OF GODZILLA®!
THE RETURN OF GODZILLA® will be released on September 13th.
*Asked if Kraken Releasing would be licensing U.S. rights for SON OF GODZILLA and GODZILLA VS MECHAGODZILLA (1974) — both of which are now back with Toho — Greenfield replied, “All I can say at this time is that Kraken is still in the process of expanding our collection of classic and modern kaiju titles. We’ve got some big announcements still to come in 2016.”
About Kraken Releasing
KRAKEN RELEASING is a new international video distribution label specializing in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror genre entertainment for mainstream audiences. Together with sister labels MAIDEN JAPAN (TOKYO MAGNITUDE 8.0, PAT LABOR, ROYAL SPACE FORCE) and SWITCHBLADE PICTURES (BIG BAD MAMA-SAN, ATTACK GIRLS SWIM TEAM VS. THE UNDEAD) Kraken’s goal is to bring the best filmed entertainment from around the world to our customers.
About Section23 Films
Section23 Films provides home video marketing and distribution services for a variety of companies, including Sentai Filmworks, Switchblade Pictures, and AEsir Holdings. With its special focus on genre entertainment, Section23 Films distributes some of the very best anime, martial arts, and horror titles on the market today.