The Black-and-White Version of ‘Godzilla Minus One’ Is Getting a Weeklong U.S. Release
Toho‘s recent release Godzilla Minus One has had an impressive and successful global run since its premiere in Japan on Nov. 3, 2023 (Godzilla Day). As of this writing, the film has taken in about $95.6 million worldwide, with just under $51 million of that coming from its U.S. release (it opened in America on Dec. 1, 2023). Godzilla Minus One is the highest-grossing Japanese live-action or animated film ever released in the United States, and it currently sits as the No. 5 highest-grossing non-English language film in U.S. box office history.
The movie will be leaving theaters after Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024, but just before that comes a little treat: A specially crafted black-and-white version of Godzilla Minus One, called Godzilla Minus One/Minus Color, which opened in Japan on Jan. 12, will debut in U.S. movie theaters for a weeklong engagement beginning Friday, Jan. 26, 2024.
According to Takashi Yamazaki, who wrote and directed Godzilla Minus One, and supervised the film’s astounding visual effects that are on the Academy Awards’ shortlist for Best Visual Effects:
“I was very happy that the North American audience embraced ‘Godzilla Minus One’ and gave us positive feedback such as ‘it was incredible! ,’ ‘it was scary!,’ and ‘it made me cry!’
“And now I am very pleased to be able to release a black-and-white version for North America as well. ‘Godzilla Minus One /Minus Color’ will bring a new and visceral experience to audiences and I hope they will tremble with a new kind of terror!
‘Godzilla Minus One/Minus Color’ is not just a simple black and white version. Our colorist took the time and care to go through a very meticulous and complex process. The black-and-white images make Godzilla look very realistic and documentary-like, which leads to even more fear. Even though we have seen ‘Godzilla Minus One’ many times, we felt that something completely different appeared here — and it’s very scary!
“So this is not only for those who liked ‘Godzilla Minus One’ but also those who are seeing it for the first time. They should definitely see this black-and-white version, especially the scene at the beginning where Godzilla appears in the night — it is so terrifying that it made my knees shake!”
Here’s a little look at what to expect:
A terrific thing about Godzilla Minus One is that it is not only a great Godzilla film, but a great film in general. While I love all Godzilla movies in their own ways, this film, and Ishirō Honda‘s original 1954 classic Gojira, are the only ones that I would consider to be “films” versus “movies,” and as genuine works of art.
You can enjoy it without having to be a Godzilla fan, or even if you’ve never seen a Godzilla movie or did not like the ones you did see. The human characters are all incredibly engaging — among the most compelling in the franchise’s 70-year history — and following their lives would be fascinating and emotionally gripping even if the film did not involve a giant monster (from what I’ve heard/read, a lot of people — myself included — found themselves tearing up if not outright crying during this film, somewhat rare for a Godzilla picture).
As for the monster himself, he is at his most brutal and terrifying in Godzilla Minus One; it’s one of the few times where I found myself rooting for the people to be able to destroy Godzilla. His rampage on Tokyo’s Ginza is up there with the Tokyo attack in Gojira, and that scene is one part of this film that offers callbacks that enhance the enjoyment for those who are longtime Godzilla fans.
And the old-school references and homages are more than just visual. Composer Naoki Satō does a masterful job of not only creating a unique, and often haunting and thrilling original musical score for Godzilla Minus One, but also weaving in superb arrangements of some of Akira Ifukube‘s famous themes, from the iconic Godzilla march to the main title/”Godzilla Advances” music from Mothra vs. Godzilla and even a bit from King Kong vs. Godzilla.
All of the visual and musical callbacks and references are nicely done and not overt or distracting. The film walks a nice line between tinges of nostalgia and homages to the movies, and the creative talents behind them, that have come before without becoming overwhelmed by fan service just for the sake of it. That makes these moments land with even more impact on the knowledgeable Godzilla fan who recognizes them, and who might end up smiling or even tearing up a bit with happiness/nostalgia upon their appearances.
So, while certainly informed by earlier films, especially Gojira, Godzilla Minus One effectively carves out its own territory. It works extremely well as both a 70th anniversary salute to everyone’s favorite radioactive reptile and a look at how he might appear going forward. It manages to simultaneously feel old-school and like something completely new, which is a testament to Yamazaki’s brilliant, and clearly loving, approach to Godzilla, the human characters and the long-running franchise itself.
I’m sure the black-and-white of Godzilla Minus One/Minus Color will only enhance some of the old-school feeling and similarities with Gojira, while also coming across as something original in its own right even separate from the color version of it that I’ve seen three times. I can’t wait to check it out.
Godzilla Minus One/Minus Color hits U.S. theaters for one week only beginning Friday, Jan. 26, 2024. Check Fandango or other ticketing websites, or your local theater’s website for availability, screenings and tickets. All versions of Godzilla Minus One will leave theaters after Feb. 1, 2024.
In the late 1970s, after the first wave of Godzilla movies ended, there were still plenty of other fun outlets where fans could enjoy the King of the Monsters: toys, models, cartoons, records and even a Marvel Comics series.