March 30, 2010 / 5:38 AM / 9 years ago

Godzilla gearing up for new big-screen rampage

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Well, well, well ... look who’s getting back in fighting shape.

Everyone’s favorite gigantic, havoc-wreaking lizard, Godzilla, is on his way back to the big screen via Legendary Pictures, which has acquired the rights to develop and produce a new feature based on the iconic Toho Co. character. Warner Bros. will co-produce, co-finance and distribute through its deal with Legendary, and Toho will roll out the film in Japan.

The last major Godzilla outing, an American, New York-set version from Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin, grossed $376 million worldwide in 1998 despite fielding equally major criticism. The following year Toho produced “Godzilla 2000,” in which the big beast took on an evil UFO.

But the Godzilla franchise juggernaut has survived decades of permutations (he first appeared in 1954), dozens of films, books, video games and merchandising tie-ins and seems perpetually ready to rear up for new audiences.

The new film is aiming for a 2012 release.

“Godzilla is one of the world’s most powerful pop culture icons, and we at Legendary are thrilled to be able to create a modern epic based on this long-loved Toho franchise,” said Thomas Tull, chairman and CEO of Legendary. “Our plans are to produce the Godzilla that we, as fans, would want to see. We intend to do justice to those essential elements that have allowed this character to remain as pop-culturally relevant for as long as it has.”

Warner Bros. and Legendary have partnered on such global properties as “Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight,” “Superman Returns” and “The Hangover,” which have grossed more than $2 billion worldwide. Their remake of “Clash of the Titans” stomps into theaters Friday.

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