Dean Devlin Shares His 2 Biggest Mistakes With 1998's GODZILLA

On Sunday, Hollywood screenwriter and producer, Dean Devlin, participated in a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) to promote The Librarians. He answered questions about his Godzilla film, Independence Day and Stargate. Check it out.


Most people quickly dismiss 1998's Godzilla as a flop. I've always found that to be quite funny as it actually made a sizeable profit. I understand people don't like the film, which is fine, but being disappointed with it doesn't change the fact that it made money. Think about this, 2014's Godzilla, directed by Gareth Edwards, cost $160M and generated $525M at the worldwide box office. Everyone regards that film as a monster-hit. If we look at 1998's Godzilla, it cost $130M to make and generated $379M at the worldwide box office. At first, you would think the 2014 film came out on top, but most people forget about this little thing called inflation. In a 2013 Forbes article, they ran the numbers and figured out that 1998's Godzilla would cost $219M in 2013 and it would've grossed $613M worldwide. Now it seems about even, but it's not. Those figures only factor in inflation, but don't factor in "15 years of overseas box office expansion" or IMAX and "3D upcharges." When you do that the 1998 Godzilla film easily comes out ahead.

I bring all of this up because producer-writer Dean Devlin participated in a Reddit AMA today and spent some of his time answering questions about 1998's Godzilla. Devlin feels that "some of the backlash" was warranted and "some was an overreation." He believes a lot of the problems with his Godzilla stem from two mistakes that he made.
DEAN DEVLIN: There are 2 flaws, for me, in Godzilla, that really hurt the film. And both of those flaws I am responsible for. The first is we did not commit to anthropomorphizing Godzilla - meaning we did not decide if he was a heroic character, or a villainous character. We made the intellectual decision to have him be neither and just simply an animal trying to survive. This was a big mistake. The second mistake was deciding to exposit the characters' background in the middle of the film rather than in the first act (where we always do). At the time we told the audience who these characters were, they had already made their minds up about them and we could not change that perception. These were 2 serious mistakes in the writing of the film, and I take full responsibility.


Devlin also spent time answering questions about Independence Day and its upcoming sequel, which will land in theaters July 4, 2016. He hopes David Arnold, who composed the original's score will return for the sequel. Arnold previously worked with Devlin and Roland Emmerich on Godzilla and Stargate. "I would love to work with him again," Devlin gushed. Of course, people wanted to ask about Will Smith, who passed on the sequel. Devlin confessed that he and his fellow writers "had to do a pretty big rewrite" once they knew there was no way Smith was returning. Though, he did promise that "there are some favorites" from the first film that were returning.

Devlin even addressed the "plot hole" regarding Jeff Goldblum's character using a human computer virus to penetrate and disable an alien computer system:
DEAN DEVLIN: Okay: what Jeff Goldblum's character discovered was that the programming structure of the alien ship was a binary code. And as any beginning programmer can tell you, binary code is a series of ones and zeroes. What Goldblum's character did was turn the ones into zeroes and the zeroes into ones, effectively reversing the code that was sent.


After Devlin and Emmerich wrap Independence Day 2 they plan to start production on their reboot of Stargate. So, why reboot it? When they made Stargate in 1994 it was "originally created to be a trilogy," but for whatever reason the sequels never happened.
DEAN DEVLIN: Now, 20 years later, we feel it's too late to do those sequels. So our plan is to re-boot that trilogy sometime next year, and present them as they were originally intended to be.


Lastly, Devlin shared an entertaining story involving his two male leads on the set of the 1992 science-fiction film, Universal Soldier.
DEAN DEVLIN: During the shoot of the movie, Jean-Claude van Damme and Dolph decided they were going to a "best body" contest. They set the date several weeks ahead, and they began training every single day in between shots to win the competition. When the day finally arrived, both men took off their shirts and posed during lunch. The crew wrote down their votes. And when the votes were tallied, Gary our camera operator... won. Both Jean-Claude van Damme and Dolph Lundgren were very upset.


Following the French atomic bomb tests in the South Pacific, an unknown creature is spotted passing westward through the Panama Canal. Scientist Niko Tatopolous is called in to investigate the matter, and he quickly arrives at the conclusion that a giant, irradiated lizard has been created by the explosions. Godzilla then makes its way north, landing at Manhattan to begin wreaking havoc in the big city. Even with the combined forces of the U.S. military to fight the monster, will it be enough to save the people of New York?

Actors: Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno, Maria Pitillo & Hank Azaria
Director: Roland Emmerich * Screenwriters: Roland Emmerich & Dean Devlin
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