CULTURE POP: MOVIE MARKETING:'GODZILLA' STEPS IN, THEN GOES BACK INTO HIDING

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As quickly as he stepped into theaters, Sony Corp.'s "Godzilla" is about to go back into hibernation.

By the end of August, Sony will yank the sneak-peak trailer for its summer '98 blockbuster candidate. Clipped to the $200 million-and-growing "Men in Black," the trailer shows Godzilla's foot crashing through the skylight of a museum and stomping a T-Rex skeleton.

"We wanted to make the trailer itself an event," said Dana Precious, Columbia/TriStar Pictures' senior VP-creative advertising. The trailer was crafted by "Godzilla's" filmmakers.

"Godzilla" doesn't hit until Memorial Day. "If you don't get out there early," said Ms. Precious, "you run two big risks: that you'll get swamped by the competition that do, and that you'll be perceived by consumers as not being important."

"Godzilla" will lay low before returning to theaters in November with a new round of posters, created by Ikon Creative Services, Playa del Rey, Calif. The first wave launched with the trailer. The ad features the green, glowing and gassy "Godzilla" logo, created by Ikon, with the tag, "Guess who's coming to town?" The second wave of posters will feature a new tagline. A third wave, with yet another tagline, hits next spring.

Ms. Precious praised the small Ikon shop. "With the logo, they captured the essence and mystery of 'Godzilla.' It's perfect for the enduring brand we are trying to make out of this property."

"Easily the longest lead time we've ever had on a movie," said Martin Gueulette, Ikon's creative director. "And it gives time to create ideas that are all-encompassing and integrated across a variety of marketing programs."

Ikon is charged with plotting new trailers; TV spots and unique outdoor ads; and event marketing strategies. Complicating the execution: Sony's PR tactic not to show what Godzilla looks like, in its entirety, prior to the film's release.

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