Warner Bros. Pictures
A number of major metropolises will once again have their skylines groomed by rampaging monsters once Godzilla hits theaters this friday. Of course, monsters destroying major cities is nothing new. It’s a tradition of genre cinema that dates back to King Kong scaling the heights of the Empire State Building in 1933. Filmmakers have been gleefuly knocking down city blocks ever since, but some cities have been the subject of more monster attacks than others. Here are the five cities most frequently attacked by giant monsters in movies.
Films: Wasei Kingu Kongu; King Kong Appears in Edo; Godzilla (1954); Godzilla: King of the Monsters!; King Kong vs. Godzilla; Godzilla vs. Megalon; The Return of Godzilla; Godzilla (1985); Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah; Godzilla vs. Destoroyah; Godzilla 2000; Godzilla vs. Megaguirus; Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.; Godzilla: The Final Wars; Varan the Unbelievable; Mothra; Dogorat, the Space Monster; Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster; Gamera; The War of the Gargantuas;Daikyojū Gappa; Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla; Terror of Mechagodzilla; Godzilla vs. Mothra; Gamera: Guardian of the Universe; Godzilla vs. Megaguirus; Big Man Japan.
Even though Americans created the giant monster phenomenon with films like The Lost World and King Kong, the Japanese took the idea to new heights. Thanks to the nation’s fascination with Kaiju, the Japanese capital of Tokyo has weathered the most giant monster attacks, and frankly, It wasn’t even a competition. By our estimation, 27 live-action films have featured Tokyo’s destruction at the hands of giant monsters, or Kaiju. Recognizable figures like Godzilla, Mothra, and Gamera have all wreaked havoc on Tokyo’s skyline over the years
NEW YORK CITY: 16
Films: King Kong (1933); The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms; The Giant Claw; Destroy All Monsters; Q; King Kong (1976); Mimic; Ghostbusters;Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack; Godzilla (1998); Godzilla: The Final Wars; Hellboy 2: The Golden Army; King Kong (2005); Cloverfield; The Incredible Hulk.
With a steep drop off in the number of films, New York takes up second place. It’s a tad surprising given New York’s reputation for getting decimated on film, and if we were accounting for alien invasions, natural disasters, most superhero films, or all the other destructive tragedies that often befall New York, the city would likely take the top honor, but since we’re specifically counting attacks by giant monsters, the Big Apple will have to settle for the silver medal. The city has been the home of three climatic ape-rampages via King Kong, a fight between the Hulk and the Abomination in The Incredible Hulk, and a handful of shake-ups in giant monster classics like The Giant Claw.
Films: The Strange World of Planet X; Destroy all Monsters; Behemoth: The Sea Monsters; Konga; Gorgo; Reign of Fire.
In third place is London. The city has been the setting of several giant monster attacks, and just squeaks by other American and Japanese cities that almost made the list thanks to a handful of homegrown sci-fi films.
LOS ANGELES: 5
Films: Them!; War of the Colossal Beast; Mighty Joe Young; Yonggary (1999); Dragon Wars.
Like New York City before it, Los Angeles also seems like a city that has been the victim of more monster attacks, but the City of Angels has been a relative safe haven from monster attacks compared to Tokyo. Now, if we’re talking about alien invasions, that’s a different conversation entirely.
Films: Beginning of the End; Alligator; The Relic; Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
Last but not least, Chicago rounds out the list, quietly beating cities like Osaka and San Francisco thanks to semi-forgotten monster flicks like The Relic and Alligator.