William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Godzilla’s Changing Height: A Statistical Analysis

I grew up watching Channel 50′s Creature Feature and Channel 7′s 4 pm Monster Week movies, many of which featured Ultraman, Rodan, Gamera, Gargantua, and, of course, Godzilla. Too, I have read one book about our semi-friendly big green atomic lizard, and when far from sobriety I can do a pretty fair imitation of Gojira’s call, so I am something of an expert.

This is why I know there have been many misleading reports on the changing nature of Godzilla, specifically his height, which many are saying has been strictly increasing through the years. These reports are false, as this in-depth statistical analysis proves.

Take a look-see at this:

gozilla2

The list of movies are here, and a very misleading graph of Godzilla’s changing size is here. That graph, like many, seem to show Godzilla growing linearly in time. But this only proves people aren’t born with innate statistical knowledge, the kind which Yours Truly has spent many weeks accumulating.

It was unclear whether to include Roland Emmerich’s 1998 version of the movie. His monster, which shared the same name as the others in the franchise, turned out—who saw this coming?—to be a misunderstood girl which wanted only peace. Sheesh. My memory of the movie’s ending is vague, but I believe the last shot was of a group hug of green-ribbon-wearing cast members.

Various reports put Gareth Edwards’s 2014 Godzilla from 120 to 150 meters, the tallest yet. And why so tall? Maybe because there’s no longer a guy in a rubber suit.

As far as I can glean from the trailer, the plot of this entry has Gojira destroying San Francisco, and, most peculiarly, a group of earnest folks try to stop him. Once more a movie which spent so much money on computer effects that nothing was left for decent writing.

Most of the early movies were directed by Ishiro Honda, who was content to leave Godzilla’s size alone, maybe because making the costumes was expensive. A very modest increase in 5 meters came in 1984, nine years after Honda’s last movie. Then, after flagging sales, another boost, this time to a full 100 meters in 1991, in a movie directed by Kazuki Omori.

The shrinking back to 55 meters came in 1999 (Takao Okawara), probably because of the acute embarrassment felt by all over Emmerich’ blunder the year before. This return to normalcy lasted five films, before Ryuhei Kitamura in 2004 had Godzilla grow again to 100 meters.

There is no trend, but if directors let Godzilla grow any taller, it’s certain that there would be nothing to stop the monster from destroying what he pleases.

I doubt the newest will be as scary as the original, and modified with Raymond Burr voice-over, from 1954. I mean the people, not the monster. That was one frightening intense one-eyed scientist with his oxygen-sucking pill that he used to kill Godzilla—and sacrifice himself. Boy!

16 Comments

  1. Briggs,

    “Most of the early movies were directed by Ishiro Honda, who was content to leave Godzilla’s size alone, maybe because making the costumes was expensive. A very modest increase in 5 meters came in 1984, nine years after Honda’s last movie. Then, after flagging sales, another boost, this time to a full 100 meters in 1991, in a movie directed by Kazuki Omori. ”

    You don’t have to change the costumes to change Godzilla’s size. According to the Wikipedia page you link to for the list of films, Godzilla was originally supposed to be the same size as the original movie (50m) in the 1991 film, but budget issues forced them to use smaller miniatures jumping the size to 100M

  2. Probably the only worthy challenger to your analysis would be SF Debris in his look at 3 godzilla films:

    http://sfdebris.com/videos/films/gojira.php
    http://sfdebris.com/videos/films/godzilla1985.php
    http://sfdebris.com/videos/films/godzillavsbiollante.php

    I actually did not know that dubbing films was once considered a sign of respect.

    I’m still going to see it tomorrow because I’m a sucker for kaiju (you see Pacific Rim, Briggs?) and at least it seems like it will be a step up from the last American big G.

  3. Briggs

    15 May 2014 at 9:37 am

    MattS,

    Good find!

    Nate,

    I haven’t seen that one yet. My sons saw and liked it.

  4. Unfortunately, due to her demise at the end of the film, the 50 Foot Woman never got a chance to grow up. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attack_of_the_50_Foot_Woman
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Attackofthe50ftwoman.jpg

  5. Brandon Gates

    15 May 2014 at 1:27 pm

    Briggs: my untrained eyes don’t see a linear trend. Looks more like exponential growth to me. That pause from 1998 to 2004 is thought provoking.

  6. Briggs

    15 May 2014 at 1:30 pm

    Brandon,

    Don’t forget Godzilla is radioactive. This may be clouding your mind.

  7. Brandon Gates

    15 May 2014 at 1:43 pm

    Good point. It might also be his severe case of halitosis.

  8. Ye Olde Statisician

    15 May 2014 at 1:45 pm

    Won’t the square=cube thingie kick in at some point?

  9. Brandon Gates

    15 May 2014 at 1:49 pm

    If you’re talking to me, YOS, now I’m really lost.

  10. Briggs

    15 May 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Brandon, YOS,

    He means that the body mass goes up much faster than the height. Means the mass of a 150 m tall Godzilla to a 100 m tall Godzilla is much bigger than the 100 m to the 50 m.

    But this is no problem at all for computer generated images. Physics has long been out the window.

  11. Brandon Gates

    15 May 2014 at 2:22 pm

    Briggs: Ah, with you now. Missing the old days when stunts were done with real cars, are we?

  12. Brandon,

    If you increase the size of something by a factor of x, keeping things proportional so that height width and length all increase by a factor of x, volume increases by x^3.

    Assuming density remains constant, the change in mass is proportional to the change in volume.

    This site: http://threesixty360.wordpress.com/2008/02/24/godzilla-math//24/godzilla-math/ figures the mass of the original Godzilla at
    6,186,667 kilograms. I does this by measuring the volume of a Godzilla toy figure and scaling that to a 50m height than multiplying by the average body density for a crocodile.

    So if the 50 M big G masses in at 6 million kg and you double his height to 100M his mass increases by a factor of 2^3 or 8 to 48 milling kg.

    At 150 M it’s an increase of a factor of 3^3 or 27 from his original mass for a mass of 162 million kg.

  13. Brandon Gates

    15 May 2014 at 2:55 pm

    MattS: My math skills are lower than usual today, but Google tells me that the mass of Godzilla’s swimming pool is 1.4 × 10^21 kg, or 17ish orders of magnitude more massive. Das a lotta watta. I hear movie studios are cutting costs with computers there as well.

  14. Brandon,

    Yes, his swimming pool contains a lot of water. around 1.347 * 10^9 km^3.

  15. Mr, Briggs, Can you please also study if tooth fairies’ wings have grown longer? You know, to meet the demand of ever-growing spoiled children, they need to fly faster.

  16. Briggs

    17 May 2014 at 5:10 am

    JH,

    Delighted. All I need is the data. If you have it, send it.

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