The Star-Democrat from Easton, Maryland on September 11, 1998 · Page 55
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The Star-Democrat from Easton, Maryland · Page 55

Easton, Maryland
Issue Date:
Friday, September 11, 1998
Page 55
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Page 16 It's the Weekend! Friday, September 11, 1998 The big lizard post-mortem: (AP) In the end, time does matter, and Dean Devlin and partner Roland Emmerich didn't have enough of it. With the Hollywood hype machine running full bore, they finished the editing of their latest movie, "Godzilla," and rushed it off to the lab to make the thousands of prints for the thousands of theaters that would be premier-ing it over the Memorial Day weekend. "We were so determined to make this date that we built a schedule where we couldn't screen-test, and we should have," recalled Devlin, the producer and co-writer. "I think we really could have improved the film." For anyone paying even the least bit of attention to the Great Godzilla Backlash of 1998, this may seem the understatement of the summer movie season. But for Hollywood, not known for its introspection or public self-examination, Devlin's reflections are unusually candid. "People expected more," he said. ''And we didn't deliver." In a recent interview in the filmmakers' new offices on the Sony Pictures lot in Los Angeles, the 36-year-old Devlin said "Godzilla" had problems with the script (co-written by Devlin and Emmerich, who also directed), fallout from the yearlong promotional buildup and even misunderstanding over the meaning of the now-famous "size does matter" ad slogan. "It's meant to be a joke, and people took it really serious, and they thought we were talking about the size of the movie or the size of the budget or the size of the campaign," he said. "All we were trying to say was the reason why this is not 'Jurassic Park' is that it's a bigger lizard. We were making kind of a dirty joke, but it got totally misinterpreted." After the movie opened big and then went south in a hurry inspiring a million one-liners about how "Godzilla" didn't have legs Devlin was surprised by the reaction. "I think the only thing that was really disappointing for me was the level of vitriol," said Devlin. As it turned out, "Godzilla," which cost some $170 million to make and market, reaped nearly $136 million domestically and is headed for more than $200 million overseas. The video release will bring in more. "You don't do a long-term deal with someone and drop everything because something performed very well but not wildly beyond expectations," said Gareth Wigan, co-vice chairman of Columbia-TriStar Motion Picture Group, part of Sony. "It's proving to be a very, very fruitful relationship and a real partnership." Still, "Godzilla" wasn't the movie that Hollywood observers thought it should have been. Devlin makes it clear it's also not the movie that he and Emmerich thought it could have been. The pair have built their reputation on special-effects-filled spectacles, and "Godzilla" was going to raise the bar. Devlin first worked with Emmerich on the 1990 movie "Moon 44," about rival companies fighting over corporate claims to the moon; Emmerich was the director and Devlin had a part. The two struck up a friendship, finding a strong mutual interest in fantasy films. Devlin wrote "Universal Soldier," the 1992 action film that Emmerich directed, and they teamed again on "Stargate," the 1994 film starring Kurt Russell and James Spader about a stone gateway to another universe. Then came "Independence Day," the 1996 alien-invasion blockbuster starring Will Smith that established Devlin and Emmerich as one of Hollywood's hottest writing-producing-directing teams. "Godzilla" seemed the natural project for them: a big, special-effects-heavy, popcorn-season film based on one of the best-known movie monsters of all time. After rejecting the project several times, the pair finally agreed to put a unique spin on the cheesy Japanese series. "It's a movie wherein we took a lot of risks, and we knew we were taking them, but we thought it would be cool," Devlin said. The idea was to fashion a sort of "Frankenstein" with scales, starring a beast who starts out scary but becomes increasingly sympathetic. "It was really a classic monster movie," he said. The problem was that many moviegoers were looking for another "Independence Day." "Godzilla has no evil characters. There is no villain. And I think, perhaps, after 'Independence Day' people were expecting a super villain," said Devlin. "I think, for the audience, they were a bit confused. It was, like, 'Well, are we cheering for the death of Godzilla or not cheering?'" Another issue with the script, he said, concerned character development, a point hammered by virtually every critic, who found the characters even by the standards of the summer action film too thin. A Weekend Of Family Fun LIVE ENTERTAINMENT BROWSE THROUGH THE VENDOR TENTS CHILDREN'S ACTIVITIES Don't Miss Out! AtN. rw in ii loos SOB. 12 to 6 'Chesapeake Collegd fun Ft ST Kt 50 ft 213 "We did this structure where we put so much character in the middle of the film instead of the beginning of the film," he said. "We thought that was kind of interesting. But what we discovered was that by the time we learned the character's background, we didn't care anymore." Some of the problems could THEUS 1 jnw'i . tafr. 7 wsyST 2 Brenda Lee October 1 6 & 1 7 For tickets call 302-674-4600, ext. 777 or stop by Dover Downs Slots Guest Services. All shows are located in 3rd floor grandstand unless otherwise Indicated. Prices, slfltts Mtf tines siAfcct to cfwys. r H Gdnn or video lottery ayre rfHifi Prattems? I-88MW888 DSaOT 'We didn't deliver' have been spotted and corrected before the movie was released, but time ran out. "This is the first film we ever put out that we didn't have time to test-screen, and every film we've ever done we improved tremendously over the test screening," he said. "With 'Independence Day,' for instance, the WWNS Siorg ALWAYS iQffllrt PQVER NWS (Waft CoinrBfliniGj Soon 1 Lou Rawls October 30 & 3 1 A Station AvtmM Production. conDoled by rie Detaware Lottery Kxirrus be 2 1 topi Coram Oxrid on Gartig Ptebro whole ending was reshot." But with "Godzilla," he said, "We literally finished the cut and went to the printer. And we didn't even have a chance to screen it for the studio. It was just like, 'We have to go. We'll never make enough prints to get them into the theater in time if we make any adjustments.'" Appearing This Weekend September 11 & 12 8pm "Alfie" ThatS What Friends Are For ORDER TICKETS NOW! $22.50 - $45.00 mijbMf A aaiAitf-iBft V. iutt W.nijj Route 13 Doves DE 1-800-711-5882

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