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July 12, 2014

Hollywood 'Godzilla' finally stomps home to Japan

Trepidation remains about the reception it will receive there

TOKYO (AP) — Tokyo is rolling out the red carpet for Hollywood's "Godzilla" remake although the nation that gave birth to the fire-breathing monster is seeing the latest movie after it opened everywhere else.

"Godzilla," opening in the U.S. May 16, has grossed more than $488 million globally.

But trepidation remains about its reception in Japan because of the intense loyalty fans feel toward the original. The film opens in Japan on July 25.

Director Gareth Edwards, present in Tokyo for the gala Thursday, stressed he had merely parented what was the child of Japan.

"It feels like a homecoming," said Edwards. "His home is Japan."

Ken Watanabe, whose "Godzilla" role is one of several appearances in Hollywood films, acknowledged pressure was high for how the film may be received in Japan.

"It might be a challenge for Japanese to accept this movie," he said after posing with a figure of Godzilla on the red carpet.

He said some scenes show the wreckage of a giant tsunami, evoking painful memories of the March 2011 disaster in northeastern Japan, which killed nearly 19,000 people and set off the worst nuclear catastrophe since Chernobyl.

"I have a special feeling for this film because of the disaster," Watanabe said.

Edwards' 3-D Godzilla, complete with glistening scales, spikes down its back and a terrifying roar, pays homage to the original, tracing the theme of the threat of radiation, following America's atomic attacks on Japan in World War II.

Although Godzilla has grown to be one of Japan's most iconic exports, along with sushi and geisha, its status in mainstream entertainment has waned here.

Toho Co., the creators of Godzilla movies since the first one in 1954, stopped making them after the 28th in a series in 2004.

Officials say times have changed and an actor thrashing about in a rubber suit, smashing miniature models of buildings, just doesn't cut it anymore.

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