Godzilla Encounter makes a monster mark at Comic-Con
05:00 AM, Jul 17, 2013
SAN DIEGO Godzilla isn’t just a giant monster at Comic-Con. He’s an event.
A gargantuan-sized step away from the convention center, Legendary Pictures has turned an old red-brick warehouse in the Gaslamp Quarter district into the Godzilla Encounter, a must-attend for monster-movie lovers that’s part museum and part theme-park attraction.
“We just wanted to share our passion for the franchise,” says Legendary president and chief creative officer Jon Jashni. “It’s a gift to Comic-Con and to the fans.”
Open until Sunday, the attraction aims to boost the Japanese creature’s profile at the pop-culture event and bring the monster who first appeared in 1954’s Godzilla back into the public consciousness leading up to the release of director Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla (out May 16). Edwards will be part of a Comic-Con panel Saturday morning with his stars Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen.
To get more people in the mood, Legendary has a Godzilla Encounter app that allows fans to put their smartphone photos through special filters and unlock special Easter eggs in the attraction itself. Plus, it has a Geiger counter that begins to blink red when you get close to the warehouse adorned with Godzilla graffiti since atomic radiation is what powers the gigantic beast.
Inside the Godzilla Encounter attraction itself, attendees are put through the experience of a Godzilla attack. The effects range from the blinking lights and blaring horns of an atomic blast shelter to an office in disarray, where Godzilla lumbers by in the window and then unleashes his trademark high-pitched roaring scream. Guys in Hazmat suits and patrons at a ramen bar named in honor of Yasuaki Shindo, a character in Godzilla lore add to the ambiance.
There are sections devoted to manga, comics and fashion, too, but much of the attraction is for old-school Godzilla geeks. Many little nods and details are sprinkled throughout a re-created Tokyo. A TV store, which has ’50s-era sets playing ’50s Godzilla movies and is named after original producer Tomoyuki Tanaka, is adjacent to a wall that doubles as an artistic tribute to effects master Eiji Tsuburaya.
A monster costume from Godzilla 2000 (1999) is one of the centerpieces of the exhibit area, as is the Oxygen Destroyer, the weapon that finally took down the big guy in the original 1954 Godzilla. Legendary had it shipped from Toho Studios’ archives in Japan just for the Godzilla Encounter.
“We want every Godzilla fan, new or old, to have a different experience,” says Barnaby Legg of Five33, a marketing agency recently bought by Legendary.
The company has put a lot of personal touches into the attraction, too. A French Godzilla poster that Jashni gave Legendary CEO Thomas Tull is one of the many aspects of monster-movie history.
“When something like this is so fueled by this level of passion, it’s not work,” Jashni says. “It’s only joy.”