This Day On The Street
Continue to site
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here

How Godzilla Made Foreign Film a Box Office Monster

PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- It's good to see Godzilla back in giant, radioactive fire-breathing form, but the giant movie monster will never be bigger in the U.S. than it was 60 years ago.

With all respect to lead actor Bryan Cranston, director Gareth Edwards and the folks at Legendary Pictures, this year's Godzilla incarnation could make $1 billlion at the box office and never have the impact of 1956's Godzilla: King Of The Monsters. I said it five years ago in The Huffington Post and I'll say it here: It is the single most important foreign film in U.S. history.

Even though it wasn't even the best version of that film available, it made foreign film palatable to what was a fairly xenophobic American moviegoing audience. It made everything from The Seven Samurai to last year's Instructions Not Included fair game for U.S. cinema screens.

But it didn't do so easily. The U.S. movie market in 1956 wasn't exactly a cardboard city that Godzilla could wade into and trample. There weren't a whole lot of foreign films screened here and those that were didn't come with subtitles. Toho had tapped directly into Japan's deepest post-World War II fears when Gojira was released in 1954. Less than a decade after having atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States at the end of World War II, Japan was dealing with the literal fallout of U.S. atomic testing in the Pacific. The Castle Bravo test of a 15-megaton hydrogen bomb on the Bikini Atoll in 1954 scorched the crew of the nearby Japanese fishing boat Lucky Dragon 5 with radiation and tainted the food supply with radioactive fish.

Gojira didn't flinch from public reaction to that incident and showed children being treated for radiation burns and families incinerated:

A fantastic recap video at Slate goes into greater detail, but basically the dark nature of Gojira wasn't going to fly with a U.S. audience that liked its movie monsters more like 1933's King Kong -- which was rereleased in 1952 and 1956 -- and 1953's Beast From 1,000 Fathoms.

1 of 2

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Only $9.95
14-Days Free
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
AAPL $130.28 0.00%
FB $81.53 0.00%
GOOG $565.06 0.00%
TSLA $218.42 0.00%
YHOO $44.52 0.00%


DOW 18,080.14 +21.45 0.12%
S&P 500 2,117.69 +4.76 0.23%
NASDAQ 5,092.0850 +36.0220 0.71%

Partners Compare Online Brokers

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs