San Diego Comic-Con is the place where Hollywood studios showcase their big upcoming blockbuster films. Some studios usually have large booths on the convention floor or high-profile discussion panels in Hall H or Ballroom 20, but this year Legendary Pictures took it to a whole new level for their upcoming reboot Godzilla, calling it the Godzilla Encounter Experience.

The Godzilla Encounter has taken over an entire building on the corner of 7th and J Streets and is completely free to anyone who wants to enter. It’s an unique experience and – while we weren’t allowed to bring cameras past a certain point – we did get to experience the entire attraction a day early -which we’ve decided to share it with those of you not fortunate enough to attend in person. Of course, you didn’t need to be there in person to enjoy the new posters and concept art from the film, which has debuted at SDCC 2013.

THE  GODZILLA EXPERIENCE

They allow waves of around 25 people into the building at a time, and the experience starts in a lobby of sorts, filled with miniatures, pop artwork and set pieces from previous Godzilla films. The setting is downtown Tokyo and participants are given about ten minutes to look around at all the artwork, the original rubber suit from the 1999 film Godzilla 2000: Millennium and can even try some sushi or fresh ramen noodles from the outdoor sushi bar.

There is an interactive mobile app built by MJD Interactive that isn’t required to enjoy the attraction but it definitely enhances the experience – so using it is highly recommended. The app has a built in Geiger counter, the ability to take and share photos on various social media networks, and an image scanning feature that can be used on most of the posters scattered around the lobby.

Without warning, alarms go off and people in hazmat suits usher participants into the next stage of the attraction, where footage of the American military preparing for the arrival of Godzilla in San Diego plays on the walls. We’re told this footage is NOT from the actual film. After a few minutes, everyone is escorted in an “elevator” and taken to the “roof” of the building-  but once the elevator experiences technical difficulties, they’re dumped into an office.

This is where the attraction really shines. There is a very large video wall showing footage (again, supposedly not from the film) of heavy rain beating against the windows. Just when everything gets quiet, Godzilla comes lumbering past the windows letting out his signature roar. The guide tells everyone to be quiet so the beast won’t see them, but too late – Godzilla walks to the window and lets out a deafening scream. Once again, everyone is quickly escorted out of the building, down a ramp and out to safety.

GODZILLA: NEW POSTERS & CONCEPT ART

Below you’ll find a gallery of Godzilla images – including two posters that debuted at Comic-Con 2013, some concept art from the film, and a bunch of images we snapped while touring the Encounter Experience:


NOTE: Legendary was adamant that design of Godzilla shown during the Encounter is NOT the final design which audiences will see in the final film come 2014 – but we wonder if it won’t look awfully similar? The concept art, Mondo poster and teaser poster for the film all have a striking resemblance to the rubber suit used in 1999 – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing in our minds.

Godzilla is directed by Gareth Edwards (Monsters), written by Max Borenstein (Seventh Son) and Dave Callaham (The Expendables 3) and stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass 2), Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Elizbaeth Olsen (Oldboy) and Ken Watanabe (Unforgiven).

Godzilla stomps into theaters May 16th, 2014.

Be sure to check out the continuing of our Comic Con 2013 coverage and follow me on Twitter – @MoviePaul.