When U.S. producer John Beck was not satisfied with King Kong vs. Godzilla, he and to a greater extent, his team of writers and editors tried to "fix" the film in the best ways they could: Chopping away scenes that actually made the characters a bit dimensional, adding in boring, pace halting segments of UN personnel explaining what's been cut out, shifting scenes and shots beyond recognition, sometimes less than logical dialogue changes, and finally, the near complete removal of Akira Ifukube's wonderful compositions because they "sounded too Japanese". In terms making it feel like a completely different film, they succeeded, as the end result is much more akin to American Sci-Fi of the time, with most if not all satirical elements from the original cut excised, though the lighthearted tone and comedy scenes are kept.
Although it's still positively received in most circles, the original cut is almost always regarded as entirely superior, but unfortunately, this version is seen in most parts of the world. At the beginning of production, John Beck and Universal were given exclusive rights to the film throughout western territories. The Japanese version has never been given a stateside release and probably never will. Contrary to what some people would believe, most of the people involved in the Americanization actually did have a great deal of respect for the original material, and like how Godzilla: King of the Monsters! was handled, they believed their version would be more suited for American audiences.
Tropes exclusive to the U.S. version:
- Artistic License Paleontology: Dr. Arnold Johnson, curator of the New York Museum of Natural History, classifies Godzilla as a dinosaur "possibly crossed between the tyrannosaurus and the stegosaurus". A carnivore and a herbivore separated by millions of years of evolution can interbreed? What!? Made worse when the doctor holds up a children's dinosaur book to support his theories. It seems he couldn't even afford a copy of Anguillosaurus, Killer of the Living.
- Continuity Reboot: Despite a helicopter pilot clearly identifying the monster, the U.S. version ignores the previous two films completely (also note that Gigantis wasn't really considered a Godzilla film in those days for obvious reasons), presenting Godzilla as a generic frozen dinosaur with no connections to the H-Bomb.
- Cut-and-Paste Translation: Where to begin... The infamous "corns" exchange only serves to coverup the fact that the scene has been shifted. In the Japanese version, Furue is talking about Godzilla's sudden return, which took place after the expedition party reached Faro Island.
- Dub Induced Plothole: In a cut subplot, Fujita is running experiments on his tensile strength wire aboard a ship, departing at Nemuro shortly before Godzilla destroys the same ship off screen. A plane crash is what motivates Fumiko to look for him in Hokkaido in the English script, even though the newspaper she's reading clearly shows a ship.
- Hollywood Darkness: Some scenes that originally took place during the day were tinted to match surrounding shots, but for some reason, in foreign prints no color grading was applied.
- Inconsistent Dub: General Shinzo (who is unnamed in the Japanese script) is called Kenzo during one loop.
- Nuke 'em: This standard B-movie plan is considered by the authorities, but is dropped in favor of the film's title. This is also touched upon in the Japanese cut, albeit more briefly. It should be noted that during the first scene with Shigezawa (which was shifted before Godzilla attacks the army base), he is talking about how no one should really be surprised about Godzilla's return, and the references to the 3000 year old lotus seed and the ancient frog are put in Johnson's mouth instead in the U.S. cut.
- No Pronunciation Guide: Every dub actor repeatedly pronounces Hokkaido as "Hokkai-yaddo". The only individual to pronounce it properly is James Yagi during the added U.N. scenes.
- Obliquely Obfuscated Occupation: The script never really makes it clear what Prof. Shigesawa's profession is (in the Japanese script he seems to be just a civilian scientific adviser). In one scene, he's the Minister of Defense, and in another he's given the vague title of premier.
- Recycled Soundtrack: With Ifukube's score almost entirely out of the picture, the Gillman's three note leitmotif now serves as both monsters' theme. Some cues go back as far as 1941's Man-Made Monster.
- Same Language Dub: The original voices of the Seahawk's crew were not retained and Harold S. Conway was given a foreign accent for whatever reason, again. A bit of dialogue changes occur too: In the Japanese version, the captain utters "Oh my god" after the engine fails, while in the dub he says "Oh, great" instead. The helicopter pilots' dialogue was changed as well.
- Stock Footage: In addition to the U.S. produced scenes, footage lifted from The Mysterians is thrown in for good measure. The invaders' otherworldly orbiting mothership stands in for the U.N.'s International Communications Satellite, scenes of panicking civilians obviously not tinted to match the rest of the scene pad out Kong's rampage through the suburbs, and by far the most notable usage occurs during the ending, where scenes of entire villages sinking into the ground and tidal waves flooding valleys were used to make Godzilla and King Kong's fall into the water and the following tremor seem more climactic.
Tropes exclusive to the Japanese version:
- Retool: Ishiro Honda originally did not want the monsters in a Lighter and Softer approach, as most of his kaiju films are serious in nature. From this film onwards, he chose to not direct anymore films after Terror of Mechagodzilla.
Regular Trivia Tropes:
- Dueling Dubs: In addition to the U.S. cut, there's supposedly an uncut international English dub produced in either Tokyo or Hong Kong out there somewhere, but it's never surfaced and is feared lost. The trailer still exists though.
- Executive Meddling: Toho decided to move the series in a lighter direction despite Ishiro Honda not wanting to turn a serious monster film into a comical one.
- Milestone Celebration: Toho's 30th birthday movie by pitting the two most iconic giant monsters of all time against each other.
- No Export for You: The original Japanese version has never been released in the United States.
- Star-Making Role: Godzilla was already a popular Kaiju when this came out. But fighting against THE movie monster himself cemented his glory as one of the best of all time.
- Pop Culture Urban Legends: There are a lot of people who claim that King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) has two different endings for the American and Japanese releases, one where King Kong wins and one where Godzilla wins respectively. While there are differences between the two versions, the endings are the same and Word of God says that King Kong was always the intended victor. The rumor may have started because the Japanese version has King Kong's and Godzilla's roars played at the end, while the American version only had Kong's.
- Production Posse: Ishiro Honda, Akira Ifukube, Eiji Tsuburaya and Akihiko Hirata becomes part of this film's production. This is Tsuburaya's third Godzilla film, while this is the actors' second.
- Word of God: According to Toho Studios, the winner of the battle is King Kong.
- What Could Have Been: Almost immediately after the release of this film, there were plans to do a sequel, simply entitled Continuation: King Kong vs. Godzilla. Unfortunately, the idea didn't get far, and very few details are known as to how the film would've turned out.
- There were also plans to remake the film as part of the Heisei Godzilla series to coincide with Toho's 60th anniversary. Due to Executive Meddling on the part of the rights holders for Kong, the film instead became Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah.
- When Willis O'Brien wrote the script that would become King Kong vs. Godzilla, he envisioned it as King Kong vs. Frankenstein. Eventually the script fell into Toho's hands and became King Kong vs. Godzilla, but Toho also considered a Frankenstein vs. Godzilla and Frankenstein vs. the Human Vapor (a lesser-known non-giant monster from the Toho movie of the same name), but those evolved into Frankenstein Conquers the World