CopyrightsEntertainment LawThe Long-Awaited US Release of Godzilla Minus One on Netflix

June 4, 2024

Godzilla, the iconic king of monsters, has a storied history that spans decades and continents. As of 2024, there have been a total of 38 Godzilla films produced, including both Japanese and American productions. Recently, fans in the United States finally got their chance to stream the widely successful Japanese production “Godzilla Minus One,” a fresh take on the legendary beast, now available on Netflix. However, the journey to this release was fraught with delays and legal intricacies, largely due to the involvement of US based Legendary Pictures and their own Godzilla cinematic universe.

Godzilla was created by Toho Co., Ltd. in 1954. Godzilla emerged as a metaphor for nuclear destruction in post-war Japan. “Godzilla Minus One” the highest rated Godzilla movie of all-time, takes place in a post-war Japan grappling with the devastation of Godzilla’s rampage. This film, praised for its nuanced storytelling and Academy Award winning special effects, breathes new life into the franchise. But why did it take so long for US audiences to get a glimpse of it?

The primary reason lies in the complex landscape of intellectual property, film rights, and territorial rights. Legendary Pictures, which licenses the Godzilla intellectual property, has been producing its own series of Godzilla movies since 2014, starting with “Godzilla” and most recently “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire.” These films are part of Legendary’s “MonsterVerse,” a shared cinematic universe that includes other iconic creatures like King Kong.

Territorial rights played a significant role in delaying the release of “Godzilla Minus One” in the US. Legendary Pictures held the US rights for their Godzilla films, creating a competitive environment for other Godzilla productions. Releasing “Godzilla Minus One” in the US required navigating these complex rights agreements to avoid conflicts with Legendary’s films. And Toho and Legendary probably negotiated the timing of a “Godzilla Minus One” US release into their territorial rights and licensing agreements.

For nearly six months US moviegoers had to wait for a chance to watch “Godzilla Minus One,” building the hype and anticipation surrounding the highly successful movie. Netflix seized the opportunity to bring “Godzilla Minus One” to a global and US audience. Despite the delay, fans can now enjoy this film and the continued lore of Godzilla.
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