The wink of an eye, a glimpse of a foot, the swish of a tail. Leaping lizards, Godzilla -- you're such a tease!

Normally one wouldn’t associate a skyscraper-tall reptile with subtlety. But despite a slogan that unabashedly proclaims ”Size Does Matter,” Columbia TriStar is taking a subtle approach with the marketing of ”Godzilla.” This sure-fire monster hit stars a monster who’s curiously camera-shy.

The film’s trailers — which cause audiences to roar with approval — only show a brief glimpse of isolated parts of the giant lizard. In one scene, Godzilla’s foot smashes a museum’s T-Rex skeleton like a Jurassic pancake. But that’s all ‘Zilla fans will get until the official release date this summer. (The 13,000-seat, star-studded premiere will take place May 18 at Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden.) Why not show audiences the beast in its entirety? ”We don’t want to put limits on viewers’ imaginations,” says Robert Levin, Sony Pictures’ president of worldwide marketing.

Even Matthew Broderick, the film’s human star, hasn’t seen the new (and hopefully improved) Godzilla. Because the creature is basically one big computer-generated special effect, Broderick did his scenes solo. ”I saw only green screens and [the director] shouting ‘Godzilla is looking that way… now he’s bending over!’ ” Broderick recalls.

Keeping Godzilla’s new look from the public posed a problem, however, at last week’s annual International Toy Fair in New York City. Sony, Columbia TriStar’s parent company, had to stir up hype and awareness about the film and its upcoming toy line to the press — without ever showing the creature. Instead, Sony reps tantalized the packed room of journalists with a tightly-wrapped present labeled ”Do not open until May 20” — the date that marks the mammoth reptile’s full-scale assault into theaters and toy stores.

So who HAS seen what the big guy looks like? Toy executives, that’s who. Jim Meyer, a senior buyer for FAO Schwarz, previewed the toys bearing Godzilla’s new mug, but was instructed to keep it quiet. ”Very ’90s… and very fast,” is Meyer’s cryptic description. Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin (”Independence Day”), the producer/director team behind ”Godzilla,” leaked a few more details. ”He’s meaner and leaner,” says Devlin. ”He’s 20 stories tall and runs over 200 miles an hour.” Speedy or sluggish, humungous or dinky, one thing is certain: Thanks to all of the hype, Godzilla will soon be living large.

Godzilla (Movie - 1998)
  • Movie
  • 140 minutes
  • Roland Emmerich