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Godzilla Minus One left theaters early and is avoiding streaming & home video, and we think Godzilla x Kong: New Empire is to blame

Godzilla Minus One is one of the best films in recent memory, but right now no one in the world can see it. And we think its Godzilla's fault.

Godzilla Minus One
Image credit: Toho Co. Ltd.

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Godzilla Minus One is one of the best Godzilla films in the past 50 years, and one of the best films of 2023 - with both movie-goers and award shows agreeing. But the film, originally released in November 2023 and then re-released due to demand in a black-and-white version, was pulled from theaters around the world on February 1.

Why?

Godzilla, it seems. For the character's new empire. Yes, we're talking about Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire.

What appears to be happening is an agreement between the Godzilla franchise's owners, Toho Co. Ltd., and the owners of the character's non-Japanese film/TV rights Legendary Pictures. Originally struck in 2009, the deal - although never made public - reportedly includes a clause to avoid any of Toho's Godzilla films from competing with Legendary's Godzilla films.

"Toho retains the ability to make its own Godzilla movies but with the reported limitation of not releasing them in the same year as a Legendary production," writes MovieWeb's Richard Fink. "This might explain why Godzilla Minus One was given a November 2023 release date in Japan with a December 2023 release in the United States, as it allowed Toho to release their own Godzilla film ahead of the franchise's 70th anniversary and not step on the toes of Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire."

This has been widely reported, but never substantiated by anyone with actual confirmed access to Toho and Legendary's contracts.

Related: Godzilla Minus One is a reminder that action movies can be good, actually

So despite Godzilla Minus One being in the top 10 movies for US theaters and riding high on Academy Award nominations, both versions of the movie were pulled from theaters promptly on February 1 - with no sign then or now of when it'd be available on streaming or any kind of home video. Literally, you can't watch Godzilla Minus One anywhere in the world right now.

Why? The first official trailer for Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire debuted February 14. And while Godzilla has faced and vanquished many a foe, competing against the original Godzilla isn't a fight the franchise's owner and key rightsholder wants to have.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire opens in theaters this week. Buy tickets on Fandango or Atom Tickets

When and where can you see Godzilla Minus One? The only announced home video release of the movie to date is the DVD/Blu-Ray release of the film on May 1 - but only in Japan.


Whichever giant monster is your favorite, Popverse has you covered. We have a guide to Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire's ending (and what it means for the broader MonsterVerse), as well as watch orders for both Legendary's MonsterVerse and Godzilla's overall movies, as well as why Godzilla Minus One left theaters early (and why New Empire could be to blame!), and if you're a Popverse premium member, a New York Comic Con-exclusive interview with the cast and crew of Legendary's kaiju-hunting drama Monarch: Legacy of Monsters.

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Chris Arrant

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Chris Arrant is the Popverse's Editor-in-Chief. He has written about pop culture for USA Today, Life, Entertainment Weekly, Publisher's Weekly, Marvel, Newsarama, CBR, and more. He has acted as a judge for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the Harvey Awards, and the Stan Lee Awards. (He/him)
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