Lost Project: Godzilla 3D to the Max

Unmade Film
Intended Release:

Conceived by:

Yoshimitsu Banno

Godzilla 3D to the Max

Japanese Title

ゴジラ 3D to the Max
[Gojira 3D to the Max]

A meteor crashes into the Sargasso Sea, releasing an insect-like swarm. The swarm travels to Iguazu Falls in Argentina where they descend on a rain forest, feasting on it. As it turns out, the swarm is an alien species that had originally consumed all chlorophyll based life on a planet called Deathla Star. Having sought out Earth for its rich vegetation, the aliens spread quickly in the area until they unwittingly awake Godzilla.

Going on the offensive, the King of the Monsters attacks the extraterrestrials. In response the aliens merge to form a monster called Deathla, a huge poisonous creature. After Godzilla blasts Deathla with his atomic ray, the alien kaiju explodes only to reform as a swarm of locust-like creatures again. As the creatures fly off, Godzilla uses his atomic ray to fly after them. Venturing to America, an aerial battle wages onward until they reach Las Vegas. Once there, the alien creatures reform into a single, giant monster again. Not running anymore, the two go into full battle. Looking to end the conflict, Deathla lifts Godzilla into the sky and tosses him near the Las Vegas strip. The alien then covers the King of the Monsters in poisonous sludge, incapacitating Godzilla.

With the battle televised, the children of the world begin to sing. As more and more join in, Godzilla awakes and continues his attack. Using his tail, the King of the Monsters mercilessly strikes at Deathla, eventually smashing the alien menace into pieces and ending the threat to Earth.

Victorious, Godzilla uses his atomic ray to fly back to Iguazu Falls. Meanwhile, plants and other life that were attacked by Deathla begin to bloom and show signs of recovering.

Background - Images - Concept Evolution


In 2000, Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971) director Yoshimitsu Banno founded his own company called Advanced Audiovisual Productions, Incorporated. Their focus was on large scale cinema, such as IMAX, both in terms of providing equipment and producing films for the format. Feeling Godzilla would be a natural fit for this kind of cinema, Banno eventually approached Toho about creating a 3D IMAX Godzilla film. At the time, Toho was planning to end the Millennium series of Godzilla films and so saw an opportunity. They granted Banno' request to make a short film, less than 60 minutes, under similar conditions that were placed on TriStar for what eventually became GODZILLA (1998). This included requiring Toho's approval over elements like the story and character design. It allowed, though, that Banno could make and finance the movie independent of Toho. In return, Toho would get to distribute the movie theatrically in Japan while Banno, and any partners he worked with, would be allowed to manage worldwide distribution. The agreement also stipulated that the companies would work together on elements like marketing and merchandising.

Banno began working on a concept in 2003, then known as Godzilla vs. Deathla to the Max. Over two years this morphed into the Godzilla 3D to the Max concept. The budget was originally projected at ¥1,000,000,000, or around $9 million, which is on par with the Millennium Godzilla films. Principal photography was to have started in December 2005 for a summer 2006 release. At this time, the story had a strong New York angle, with the final act occurring there and the back story for the human characters relating to 9/11.

More changes happened, though, as the date was pushed back so it would end production in 2007 while the projected budget needed for the movie greatly increased to ¥3,000,000,000, or around $25-27 million. Later in 2007 the movie also shifted from the New York setting for the final act to Las Vegas.

The staff of the production at this time included Yoshimitsu Banno as director, writer and general producer. The movie would be co-directed by Keith Melton (Cirque Du Soleil). Roger Holden and Brian Rogers (Terminator 2 3D: Battle Across Time) were also to produce the movie while Kenji Okuhira, Banno's longtime assistant, was tapped as associate producer. The special effects director would have been Eiichi Asada, who worked in that role on both Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003) and Godzilla: Final Wars (2004). Peter Anderson (Captain EO) was to be in charge of cinematography and manage some of the visual effects. Company wise, Banno's Advanced Audiovisual Productions and Holden's Whitecat Productions were attached while they continued to search for backers.

Eventually, the search for backers reached Legendary Pictures, who expressed an interest. However, what they wanted was to produce a full length movie as opposed to the 40 minute one being suggested. Banno went back to Toho and negotiations commenced with Legendary Pictures. This led to an agreement that allowed Legendary Pictures to produce their own Godzilla movie, which Toho would get the right of approval on and have distribution rights for Japan. Banno and Kenji Okuhira became executive producers for the movie, while Brian Rogers acted as producer. The concept was then completely retooled. While Godzilla retained his more heroic persona, almost everything else from Godzilla 3D to the Max was lost. The project was eventually announced to the public in March, 2010, and would go on for years of development until it was finally released as Godzilla (2014).



Background and Trivia

  • Locations and back stories for characters in the concept changed over time. Originally, there was an aerial battle that was to wage over the East Coast of America. The final battle was also to take place in New York City, which would have been under the impact of a blizzard. Characters included TV reporter Mischa and her young brother Jim, who both lost their father during 9/11 as he was a firefighter on the scene at the time. They were to first discover the Locust Deathla and were to follow Godzilla from Argentina to New York. As for the final battle, this was to heavily reference the 9/11 Monument. This is all noted in the June 2007 edition of 3D Review Online Magazine.
  • At G-FEST XII, in 2005, Yoshimitsu Banno was part of a panel where he outlined aspects of the project. Members of the Toho Kingdom staff were on hand, and during the panel Banno mentioned that the main battle was to take place "in front of the Statue of Liberty" at this time in the project's development. He also noted that the budget being asked for was $10 million, which is close to the ¥1,000,000,000 noted elsewhere, while filming would start later that year for a Summer 2006 release. At the time, Banno was very optimistic it would get made, mentioning he was going to stop off at Los Angeles, California, after the convention to try and raise the needed funding.
  • After work began with Legendary Pictures, Yoshimitsu Banno and his company Advanced Audiovisual Productions Incorporated pivoted. They rather quickly approached Kadokawa Pictures with the idea of making an IMAX ready Gamera film titled Gamera 3D. This production, first listed on their site in 2010, would have seen the title character face off against a new, pollution spawned monster called Gaira, with no relation to the one from The War of the Gargantuas (1966). An additional creature called Son Gokuu is also mentioned, as the monsters were to battle across China. The film, which would have also been 40 minutes, was supposed to go into production through 2011 to 2012 in Hong Kong with a budget of just ¥600,000,000 (noted as "$6.6 million" as well) versus the much larger one that had been sought for the Godzilla film. Yoshimitsu Banno was to act as director and producer, alongside Hajime Nakamura. However, nothing materialized in the end. As a side note, there is no indication that Toho would have been involved at all in the Gamera film.
  • Note the image used for this concept is not representative of how either monster would have actually looked in the movie, in particular Deathla. The 2002 Godzilla was chosen for this image as this is the version of the character seen in the promos that were created to sell the concept, showcasing this version of Godzilla in a heavily damaged Las Vegas.

Concept Evolution

Godzilla 3D to the Max Concept Evolution Godzilla (2014)
Godzilla 3D to the Max   Godzilla (2014)