Japan's Toho Chooses Anime Masters to Direct 'Godzilla' Movie

Warner Bros. Pictures
Legendary's "Godzilla" stormed the global box office in 2014.

Hideaki Anno, creator of the cult anime series 'Evangelion,' and Shinji Higuchi, are promising the largest monster in the history of the franchise.

Mighty Godzilla is heading back to the megalopolis from whence he came: Tokyo.

Toho Company, the Japanese film studio that first unleashed Godzilla upon the world back in 1954, has announced plans for its next mega-monster project to be co-directed by two of Japan's most esteemed visual effects artists, for a release in summer 2016.

Hideaki Anno, one of Hayao Miyazaki's collaborators and the director of cult anime series Evangelion, will partner on the project with fellow in-demand visual effects talent Shinji Higuchi (Attack on Titan, The Floating Castle). Anno is also writing the script and Higuchi will oversee the VFX work.

“Ever since Hollywood announced that Godzilla was to be resurrected, the expectation for another Japanese Godzilla grew," said Toho in a statement. "We looked into Japanese creators who were the most knowledgeable and who had the most passion for Godzilla. Naturally, we quickly came to a consensus that Anno and Higuchi were the perfect fit for the Japanese Godzilla’s return [after] 12 years."

Toho hasn't released a Godzilla film since 2004, but Legendary's reboot of the franchise in 2014 has rejuvenated its appeal both at home and abroad. The Gareth Edwards-directed Hollywood Godzilla film, co-starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Bryan Cranston, grossed more than $500 million worldwide and topped the Japanese box office on its opening weekend. Edwards has already signed on to direct Legendary's Godzilla sequel, scheduled for release in 2018.

In an earlier announcement, Toho conceded that it wouldn't be able to match the $200 million budget of Edwards' film. But the studio says advances in CGI, along with the technical prowess of its co-auteurs, will allow it to create a monster film that can stand alongside Hollywood-scale productions. 

Toho said the upcoming Godzilla story will take place in Japan and that "moviegoers can look forward to witnessing the largest Godzilla in the franchise's history."

Toho's announcement included a message from Higuchi stating that working on a Godzilla project has been his lifelong dream and that he plans to bring an anime-esque aesthetic to his portrayal of the monster.

The franchise has been recognized by the Guinness World Records as the longest-running in global cinematic history.

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