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Why Tristar Pictures Never Released Godzilla 2 Or 3 (But At Least We Had A Show)

Sometimes, bigger is not better. That was the hard lesson learned by Sony and TriStar when they released their 1998 blockbuster "Godzilla." Based on the iconic Toho-created monster who has starred in over 30 Japanese-made films since 1954, the Roland Emmerich-directed flick was set to reboot the character after Toho's most recent Godzilla film at the time, 1995's "Godzilla vs. Destoroyah," killed off the character in Japan. The 1998 "Godzilla" would be the kaiju king's first go-around in America, and TriStar pulled out all the stops in marketing with endless tie-in products and promotional material. 

The studio initially had plans to craft an entire trilogy around the giant monster. However, the film's eventual summer 1998 release yielded disappointing results. The film was panned by critics and fans alike, who dissed the film's laughable acting, weak pacing, and inaccurate interpretation of the titular kaiju. Its box office returns were more promising, bringing home $379 million worldwide. But given the film's extensive marketing campaign and hopes for a grander franchise, the reception was considered underwhelming by executives. Despite some sequel plans making minor progress, any follow-ups were met with little excitement from audiences, fans, or licensees. 

However, that was not the end of this version of Godzilla. From September 1998 until April 2000, an animated series entitled "Godzilla: The Series" would air on Fox Kids, continuing the king of the monster's story in a more colorful — and accurate — manner.   

This show put the God back into this Godzilla

The 1998 "Godzilla" is a travesty on too many levels to speak of, but perhaps what it fails at most is getting Godzilla right. In trying to make the radioactive, atomic breath-shooting dinosaur more realistic, director Roland Emmerich — who was never a fan of the franchise, to begin with — took away the character's key defining aspects, stripping him down to a more generic movie monster that felt more accurate to Ray Harryhausen's "The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms" than Godzilla. Toho even took jabs at the Western version, eventually taking back the rights, renaming the monster Zilla and having the real Godzilla demolish the inferior creation (rendered in purposely bad-looking CGI) in literal seconds for the 2004 film "Godzilla: Final Wars."  

But before the satisfying slaughter, Sony found a way to somewhat redeem themselves with "Godzilla: The Series." The animated series follows the events of the 1998 film, as Dr. Nick Tatopoulos (voiced by "Sharknado" star Ian Ziering) and the Humanitarian Environmental Analysis Team unite with Godzilla's last surviving offspring to do battle with a horde of monsters that appear throughout the world. 

The series only lasted two seasons, but it remains a favorite among fans to this day, not only containing fast-paced storytelling and solid characters but also properly depicting Godzilla as an indestructible, atomic ray-breathing monster-fighter. Thankfully, an accurate American Godzilla would finally hit the big screen with 2014's "Godzilla" and the ongoing Monsterverse franchise.