Flashback - Godzilla X Mothra X MechaGodzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.- US Premiere

Godzilla X Mothra X MechaGodzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. - Premiere 6/25/04 USA

My Father-In-Law and I arrived at the Egyptian a little early for the autograph session with Masaaki Tezuka, Yasuyuki Inoue, and Akinori Takagi at about 5:20. There where already several fans waiting around in the courtyard and a couple of vendors were setting up shop. I took my time and scanned the tables for more Godzilla merchandise to add to my collection. I wandered over to a table where a couple of gentlemen were unloading boxes of import Godzilla posters. I picked up a German Godzilla vs Gigan add and made a comment about it. One of the men took notice and asked "Do you know anything about these ?" I responded "Yes". He quickly took me aside and explained that he had just acquired this collection from an estate and that he needed my help in pricing the items. Since I was early I decided "What the heck." I spent the next ten minutes telling him what each item was and it's history and what a fair price for it would be if he wanted to sell it quickly and make a profit. This is where I really could have low balled the prices and snatched the stuff up for myself, but I am an honest person. That was my pre-movie warm up.

It was at that point that I noticed that the autograph line was forming so I took my place in line about ten people from the font. Everyone had their Godzilla items in hand waiting to meet Tezuka, Inoue, and Takagi. The later two gentlemen were late in arriving so a lot of us fans had time to meet and talk about the films and our love of them. Before too long everyone was in place and we got our chances to meet three important people responsible for the Godzilla movie series.

First up was Masaaki Tezuka a very friendly man dressed in his MechaGodzilla t-shirt. His eyes lit up as I placed my GXMXMG press poster in front of him. He seemed very impressed by it. He said "I will sign it real big right here for you." He then signed a large autograph in the middle of the poster. I then explained how much I liked his films and his style of film making. He was very easy to talk to and seemed very happy about my knowledge of his work. It was truly an honor to meet him.

I then moved to my right to where both Mr.Inoue and Mr. Takagi were signing. Both men were quite elderly and signed my Ghidorah: The Three-Headed Monster press book even though one of them had to use a rubber stamp. I could see from their interaction that they have been close dear friends for decades. It was quite touching to see them both helping each other sign autographs. Their grasp of English was extremely limited so I really couldn't converse with them. I just felt it an extreme honor to meet two great special effects men.

I returned to my father-in-law who had by now staked out a spot for us in the ever growing line for the film. Many fans arriving at this point made the point of skipping the long autograph line for better seats for the show. As happens in events of this size there was the usual confusion over which line was for what. I myself soon learned that I was in the wrong line. My father-in-law discovered that our press tickets allowed us to be in the much shorter "Members Only" line so we jumped over. People at this point were still trying to buy tickets, but I had heard that the event had sold out. From the size of this crowd I would have to say that Toho is wrong in assuming that Godzilla fandom is dying out.

Before too long the moment of truth arrived and the doors opened and we paraded inside the theatre. Inside the lobby were several items from the Godzilla series on display, but we chose to pass them up for good seats for the film. For those of you who have never seen the inside of the Egyptian Theatre it is a truly lovely venue. You get a wonderful feeling of being in old Hollywood inside. We found our seats in the lower section, upper half, dead center. Prime viewing for us Godzilla geeks. Many fans followed our lead and began filling up our section.

This is where one of my favorite moments occurred. A lot of us began an open discussion on the Godzilla film series. We all began to introduce ourselves and opened up a dialog. It was like a group of old friends who hadn't seen each other in months. I soon became the leader of this discussion. The more and more I answered questions the more new people began to ask them. I felt like I was holding my own little Godzilla lecture. My father-in-law got a big kick out of this. I do have to admit that it did make me feel great to be able to share my knowledge of the films with others. This is of course why I started this site in the first place. Don't get me wrong I wasn't a mister know-it-all. I learned a great deal from everyone else. I thought this was a great sharing of information among a group of well informed fans. As a side note: there was the rumor floating around that Toho will continue the series after "Final Wars" as a direct to video only format. Again this is just a rumor.

It was movie time. Masaaki Tezuka was introduced to the fans during a short intro. He looked very much like any other fan in the venue with his bag of popcorn and soda in hand. He received a very large amount of applause and then the lights dimmed. The fans were in full effect for this screening. Applause broke out several times during the film. It seemed like almost every time Godzilla was on screen he got an ovation. This was truly fun to see this film along with it's group of die hard fans.

I don't want to take up too much space here talking about the movie itself. I will be writing my own review on a separate page. I will however mention that I thought the film was very good. Maybe not as good as the film that came before "Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla" yet still one of the top five Godzilla films in my opinion. The action was much better, but the story suffered somewhat from the fact that this was intended to be the middle portion of a trilogy. Some storyline items were started or hinted at and never completed. Otherwise the film was a heck of a lot of fun to watch and a true triumph of Mr.Tezuka's style of film making.

After the film was over there was a short discussion with the film's directer Masaaki Tezuka who answered questions through an interpreter. I had learned from meeting him earlier that he did indeed know some English, but it seemed he was more comfortable this way. He did answer about a dozen or so questions from the audience. I don't have the space to list all the questions and answers, but I will give some highlights. One fan asked how Godzilla's roar is created. Mr. Tezuka explained that Godzilla's sounds are a combination of contra-bass (his roar), lion growl (Godzilla's growl), and cow sounds (Misc Godzilla sounds). Another fan asked about how Gamera One and Godzilla 1998 (USA) had influenced his film making. Tezuka replied "Everything I wanted to do in my films was done in Gamera One." He also explained that all the films that have been made this decade have been inspired by those films or are in response to them. Overall this was a very informative Q&A and the fans really got into it. Sadly it seemed to end very quickly.

We exited the main theatre and decided to view all the items we passed up on the way in. On display were several pre-production drawings from "Destroy All Monsters" and a couple of books of rare photos. All very cool and something the average fan never gets to view with their own eyes. Once outside I took the time to spend my cash on several items that were on sale from the vendors. I purchased a couple of really cool imports from the gentlemen that I had helped before the show. They gave me the stuff at a highly reduced price for helping them out. See honesty paid off. I collected my loot and we headed home. I felt honored that I was able to experience such an awesome event.

I personally want to thank both Margot Gerber and Bernadette De Joya of the American Cinematheque for all their help in making this article happen.
Ken Hulsey

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