October 17, 2016
'Shin Godzilla' Breaks $1 Million At US Box Office Despite Limited Release, Critics Give Mixed Reviews

Shin Godzilla, the newest Japanese-made Godzilla film, has broken the $1 million mark in six days at the U.S. box office, despite a limited release of less than 600 theaters and only an eight day run. IndieWire reports that over the weekend, Shin Godzilla earned an estimated $425,000. They place the total box office in the nation to be around $1.4 million. Box Office Mojo has a slightly higher number, with a total over $1.5 million, as of this writing.

Funimation Films, the company distributing the film in North America, claimed in a September press release announcing their acquisition of Shin Godzilla that the movie would be a limited run, screening "in more than 440 theaters." This seems to be on target, with Box Office Mojo currently reporting 488 theaters in total. In a press release celebrating the first night of the limited run last week (October 11), Funimation Films gave a total of 534 theaters between the US and Canada.

The studio has had high hopes for the film. Gen Fukunaga, CEO and President of Funimation is quoted in the October press release.

"Fan excitement for Shin Godzilla has been unabated since we first announced the film back in July at San Diego Comic Con. It would not surprise me if numerous theaters sell out."
Fans wait in line for a special early
Fans wait in line for a special early Shin Godzilla premiere presented by Funimation Films at New York Comic Con on October 5, 2016. [Image by Bryan Bedder for Funimation Films/Getty Images]

Tom Brueggemann, writing for IndieWire, commented on how Funimation Films' limited run of Shin Godzilla and their "out-of- the-box distribution seems to be finding positive results."

"This hybrid, social-media and guerrilla marketing release marks the return of Godzilla. Launching with Tuesday openings, the movie added additional weekday dates. Then this weekend a mix of full and partial showings (with Saturday the key date) continued the run. The result – with grosses not officially reported – seems to have had a strong response for that single day (about 75% of the gross for the weekend)…

"This looks more and more like another original model to keep specialized films in play at theaters."

Critics Have Mixed Reactions

Mild spoilers may follow.

Reviews of Shin Godzilla have been generally positive, especially by fans. As of this writing, iMDB has a score of 7.7 out of 10, with over 2000 votes. Rotten Tomatoes has an audience score of 81 out of 100, with over 3000 votes.

Professional critic reviews have been somewhat more mixed in tone.

New York Times reviewer Neil Genzlinger was uncertain about the thematic consistency of the movie, feeling an uneasy balance between humor and action.

"It's choppy and full of special effects that seem deliberately designed not to impress — except when they do. The story is so sketchy that it's hard to follow, with a blizzard of characters and cameos that presumably mean more to a Japanese audience than to an American one. The film is at its best when it's in parody mode, though it keeps that card too close to the vest for much of its two-hour length. The humor, not the monster, is what you're left wanting more of."
A 12 meter tall Godzilla replica head is seen on the 8th floor terrace of the Hotel Gracery Shinjuku on April 15, 2015 in Tokyo, Japan. [Image by Chris McGrath/Getty Images]
A 12 meter tall Godzilla replica head is seen on the 8th floor terrace of the Hotel Gracery Shinjuku on April 15, 2015 in Tokyo, Japan. [Image by Chris McGrath/Getty Images]

Birth Movies Death titled their review "Shin Godzilla Is A Monster-Sized Disappointment." Writer Evan Saathoff bases his premise off the fact that Godzilla is alone in the film, with no opponent beyond the Japanese government, and what Saathoff felt was too little screentime.

"… Godzilla movies where he doesn't fight another monster tend to be awful. The original [1954] should be an obvious exception. Godzilla: 1984 is super boring, and no one likes the first [1998] American remake...

"When the focus is on Godzilla there is less room for dynamics. He can only stomp so many buildings before we get bored. After that, filmmakers only have two moves: show us some atomic breath and then take Godzilla out. It's very difficult to add any more than that to the formula when he's alone…

"Also frustrating, this has one of the greatest looking Godzilla's ever… If nothing else, I have hope that the film's success in Japan leads to a series of great Godzilla fight movies because I want to see this iteration of the character in a movie that deserves him."

The A.V. Club took a more positive stance, giving the film a "B." Writer Katie Rife highlights the unique, satirical portions of Shin Godzilla's storytelling.
"…Throughout the film, whenever a government official speaks, their title will flash across the bottom of the screen. As the film progresses and the bureaucratic situation gets increasingly complicated, those titles get longer and longer, until one person's title takes up half the screen. It's a subtle visual gag, highlighting the absurdity of not being able to attack the giant monster who's currently leveling Tokyo because, as it moves from sea to land, no one can agree whose jurisdiction the campaign should fall under…

"So, yes, Shin Godzilla is dialogue-heavy, and sometimes it fails to make much sense… the end conflict is a little anticlimactic, especially for Western audiences used to a lone hero sacrificing themselves to save the day instead of the successful execution of a coordinated team effort. But these things are all part of the charm of a Godzilla movie… "

Shin Godzilla wraps up its U.S. release on Tuesday October 18. No official word has been given yet on the details for home video, so U.S. fans who missed the theater showing will have wait a while longer.

Did you get a chance to see Shin Godzilla in theaters? Did they seem sold out, or close to it? What did you think of the film? Feel free to leave a comment below.

[Featured Image by Funimation Films]