TOKYO - Top Japanese distributor Toho is targeting women in order to make its release of the Legendary Pictures-made "Godzilla" a box office success.

The original Japanese "Godzilla" series was a Toho line-up staple for generations, but was pitched squarely at what Toho described as the "family market" -- meaning parents with young children. Conspicuous by their absence in the seats were young women -- a key audience demo in Japan. This limited the B.O. impact of the series, which ended in 2004 with "Godzilla: Final Wars," a flop with earnings of $12 million.

Knowing that it has to attract females to make the new "Godzilla" a major hit in its last world market, Toho on Monday staged a "talk event" with 100 young women who had mostly said their interest in seeing the pic was zero.

Charged with winning over these skeptics at the Tokyo Midtown shopping and entertainment complex, were Toho "Godzilla" actor and life-long series fan Shiro Sano, Hollywood "Godzilla" voice actor Haru and film commentator LiLiCo.

Sano somewhat hyperbolically described the title monster as "sexy" while LiLiCo praised 24-year-old star Aaron Taylor-Johnson for marrying 47-year-old director Sam Taylor-Johnson. "It's gives me hope," she said.

The pitch succeeded, if the show of "want to see" hands at the end was any indication, but the real test will come on July 25 when the pic opens in 2D, 3D and 3D IMAX versions, both sub-titled and dubbed, including a Japanese-subbed and dubbed version for the hearing-impaired.

Toho, however, has not prepared a "female friendly" cut of the pic, which might have had more close-ups of its hard-bodied, scaly, star.

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