This is the first Japanese Godzilla movie to be a full reboot, meaning that it shows what would happen if Godzilla attacked for the first time in modern day, and there had been no previous records of him. Although Toho has "rebooted" Godzilla a few times each previous film acknowledged the original 1954 movie as canon and just ignored all previous sequels.
Despite receiving an official English title (Godzilla Resurgence), the movie is nonetheless released in the United States under its original Japanese title (Shin Godzilla) at Toho's request. A possible explanation for this is that they want to avoid confusion with the movie Independence Day: Resurgence (2016). "Godzilla Resurgence" is kept as a title for general international promotion, however other territories (for example Germany) also released the film under its original Japanese title.
At one point in the film, all the TVs in an electronics store are showing the live footage of Godzilla's destruction of Tokyo except one which is playing the anime "Ochibisan" created by Moyoco Anno, who is director Hideaki Anno's wife. This is also a reference to the fact that one of Tokyo's six broadcast TV stations is notoriously reluctant to air breaking news.
An old-school Toho logo which appears at the beginning was re-created specifically for the widescreen of this movie by Hiroyasu Kobayashi, a graphic designer at Anno's Studio Khara, as appointed by the director.
Director Hideaki Anno told the actors to speak faster than usual so that they would resemble actual politicians and bureaucrats, citing The Social Network (2010) as a reference and warning he would cut the take if they spoke too slowly.
For Satomi Ishihara, who plays a Japanese-American diplomat, the hardest part of her performance was learning English. She found out she was playing an American after being cast, and was shocked by the amount of the English dialogue she had to speak when she read the script.
The day people first encounter the titular monster is supposed to be November 3, an obvious reference to March 11, the day the 2011 Tohoku earthquake commenced. It is also a reference to the Japanese release date of the original 1954 Godzilla film which was on November 3, 1954.
This film's Godzilla stands 118.5 m (389 ft) tall, surpassing Legendary Pictures' Godzilla (2014), which stood 355 ft/108 m tall, and thus making it the second largest version of Godzilla to appear on film, as of the release of from Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), where Godzilla stood at 119.8 m (393 ft) tall.
Godzilla was portrayed in motion capture by Mansai Nomura, a Kyogen (traditional Japanese comic theatre) actor. To realize Godzilla's slow movements, a 10-kilo weight was strapped behind him, and he incorporated the technique of the traditional Japanese dance into his performance.
As previously speculated upon, Godzilla uses his trademark 1960's-70's roar in the film, and even his original roar. This is given evidence in the first teaser trailer when Godzilla's 1954 roar is heard, and in the beginning of the official trailer, Godzilla lets out his famous Showa roar.
Godzilla's appearance was altered for various foreign movie posters. On the American poster, his beady eyes were blacked out, while on one poster from the Philippines, his scrawny arms were considerably enlarged.
Writer and Chief Director Hideaki Anno reportedly refused Toho's initial offer to work on this film because of his work on the fourth Evangelion movie but was convinced to join the project after his longtime friend Shinji Higuchi signed on to direct.
In one scene, the appointed task force scrolls through a number of tweets on Twitter. One of the Twitter users' avatars is a picture of Asuka Langley-Soryu, a major character from director Hideaki Anno's breakthrough anime, "Neon Genesis Evangelion."
The B-2 Spirit stealth bombers that appear in the film against Godzilla are identified with the onscreen subtitles as being from the 509th Operations Group. The 509th is a descendant unit of the (in)famous World War 2-era 509th Composite Group, well-known as being the unit that dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. Today, the 509th is the sole U.S. Air Force unit equipped with the B-2 and is based at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri.
This film's director and head of special effects, Shinji Higuchi, has previous experience working on special effects in multiple kaiju films by Toho. He previously worked as a special effects assistant for Godzilla 1985 (1985) and then was in charge of special effects for Shûsuke Kaneko's Gamera trilogy in the late 1990's. Higuchi also worked on the special effects in one scene for Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001).
Shinji Higuchi has revealed that Godzilla in this film would have been brought to life using a hybrid combination of computer generated imagery and traditional practical tokusatsu effects techniques. Higuchi utilized this same hybrid strategy for the Titans in the live-action "Attack on Titan" films, which he also directed. However midway during production, the large Godzilla puppet was deemed unusable, so all of the effect shots were redone in the computer.
Toho originally planned to have the movie released in over 100 markets worldwide, making it the most widely distributed feature in the company's history. However, the film only received a theatrical release in a few areas, most of which consisted of limited showings. This is because Japanese cinema usually receives very little international attention, and monster movies in general and the Godzilla franchise in specific are not as popular as other franchises, so most distributors weren't interested in acquiring the film.
Directors Shinji Higuchi and Hideaki Anno are longtime friends and collaborators, and are both well-known for their work on the popular anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995). They were selected by Toho to work on this film in part due to their work on the series. Both Toho and Gainax, the company that produces Neon Genesis Evangelion, are collaborating on a merchandise line called "Godzilla vs. Evangelion" to promote this film. This line includes various figures, pieces of artwork, clothing and other accessories featuring both Godzilla and his various monster costars alongside Evangelion- Unit-01 and other characters from Neon Genesis Evangelion.
This film was given a special advanced release in the United States on October 11-18, 2016, when it was shown in its original Japanese version (with English subtitles) and under a semi-translation of its original Japanese title, "Shin Godzilla".
Remixed versions of the track "decisive battle" from the 1995 anime Neon Genesis Evangelion are played on multiple occassions throughout the film. Director Hideaki Anno was also the director of Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Some people falsely suggested that the film was created as a response to Legendary Pictures' American Godzilla (2014), which did unremarkable business in the Japanese market (similar to how Toho responded to Sony/TriStar's badly received Godzilla (1998) with Godzilla 2000 (1999)). In reality, Toho already had a film slated for production as far back as 2013, and the contract between Legendary and Toho stipulated that the Japanese studio cannot start making new live-action Godzilla films while the American movie series lasts.
German company Splendid Films made news as the first foreign distributor to obtain rights for the movie in April 2016, since Germany is one of the few western countries where Godzilla films have a fanbase. Despite this, the movie stalled for a long time and was only released in Germany over a year later, in May 2017.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
The only Japanese live-action Godzilla movie in which the monster was realized almost completely through CGI, abandoning the traditional suitmation effects. However, according to effects supervisor Atsuki Sato, Godzilla's skin was deliberately made to look like rubber as opposed to realistic animal skin, and his movements were performed via motion capture, adding a live performance element to the animation. Some of Godzilla's interactions with the environment were achieved via pushing a prop through miniatures, and the final shot of the monster is actually a sculpture instead of a digital effect, so the physical effects weren't entirely done away with.
Later in the film, large concrete boom pump trucks are used to inject a blood coagulant into Godzilla's mouth in an attempt to neutralize him. These types of boom pumps were used to cool down the damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant after the nuclear disaster, allowing contemporary Japanese audiences to draw a comparison between the film's narrative and the events that took place after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, like many other elements of the film.
The artbook released for the movie shows various interesting and horroristic concepts the creators had for Godzilla's multiple forms and abilities: such as a second Godzilla growing out of his body like a conjoined twin, pieces of Godzilla's flesh developing into a mass of bodyparts, as well as the skeletal Godzilla creatures that appear at the end of the movie more closely resembling naked human females.
The name of the scientist that disappeared at the beginning of the movie, Goro Maki, may be a reference to the character sharing the same name, in Son of Godzilla (1967) and Godzilla 1985 (1985) (played by Akira Kubo and Ken Tanaka, respectively), both reporters/photographers.