Nearly two months after it hit theaters, Toho/Emick Media’s “Godzilla Minus One” has just hit a rare milestone, passing Bong Joon-ho’s Best Picture Oscar winner “Parasite” to become one of the top 3 highest grossing non-English films in U.S. box office history.
The record is thanks in part to a special black-and-white recut of the film called “Godzilla Minus One/Minus Color,” which hit theaters this past Friday for a one-week limited engagement. The new version added $2.6 million to the film’s American cume — its highest weekend total since New Year’s weekend, — to bring it to $55 million, passing the $53.3 million total that “Parasite” earned in 2020 before inflation adjustment.
With another $2.2 million, “Godzilla Minus One” will pass the unadjusted $57.2 million total of Roberto Benigni’s 1997 film “Life Is Beautiful” to take the No. 2 spot, sitting only behind the $128 million of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” on the all-time U.S. non-English charts.
Taking advantage of an early December release slot with no new American wide releases and little competition outside of Lionsgate’s “Hunger Games” prequel, “Godzilla Minus One” built up organic word-of-mouth among moviegoers with its blend of emotional narrative and chilling destruction from the King of Kaijus, aka giant monsters.
Set in the aftermath of World War II, “Godzilla Minus One” follows Koichi Shikishima, a kamikaze pilot who deserted a battle in the final days of the war and took refuge at an island base. That night, Godzilla kills nearly everyone on the base, leaving Koichi wracked with guilt because he was too afraid to do anything to fight back.
In the years that follow, Koichi slowly repairs his life, working as a minesweeper while caring for a woman and an abandoned infant who took refuge in the ruins of his home. But the progress he and the rest of Japan have made come under grave threat as Godzilla returns stronger than ever, ready to make the whole country his new territory.
With $102 million grossed worldwide, “Godzilla Minus One” now stands as the highest grossing Toho “Godzilla” film in the history of the 70-year Japanese franchise. The film’s jaw-dropping portrayal of Godzilla on a thrifty budget has also earned recognition from Hollywood, as it earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects.
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