King Kong


3h 2005

Brief Synopsis

It is 1933, and vaudeville actress Ann Darrow has found herself--like so many other New Yorkers during the Great Depression--without the means to earn a living. Unwilling to compromise and allow herself to sink into a career in burlesque, she considers her limited options while aimlessly wandering the streets of Manhattan. When her hunger drives her to unsuccessfully try to steal an apple from a fruit vendor's stall, she is rescued--literally--by filmmaker and multiple hyphenate Carl Denham. It seems that the entrepreneur-raconteur-adventurer is no stranger to theft, having that day lifted the only existing print of his most recent and unfinished film from under his studio executives' noses when they threatened to pull his completion funds. Carl has until the end of the day to get his crew onboard the Singapore-bound tramp steamer, the S.S. Venture, in hopes of completing his travelogue/action film. With that, the showman is certain he will finally achieve the personal greatness he knows awaits him around the corner--and although the crew believe that corner to be Singapore, Denham actually hopes to find and capture on film the mysterious place of legend: Skull Island. Unfortunately for Carl, his headlining actress has pulled out of his project, but his search for a size-four leading lady (the costumes have all been made) has, fatefully, led him to Ann. The struggling actress is reluctant to sign on with Denham, until she learns that the up-and-coming, socially relevant playwright Jack Driscoll is penning the screenplay--the fees his friend Carl pays for potboiling adventure are a welcome supplement to Driscoll's nominal income from his stage plays. With his newly discovered star and coerced screenwriter reluctantly onboard, Denham's "moving picture ship" heads out of New York Harbor--and toward a destiny that none aboard could possibly foresee.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Action
Adventure
Adaptation
Release Date
Dec 14, 2005
Premiere Information
World premiere in New York: 5 Dec 2005
Production Company
Universal Pictures; Wingnut Films, Ltd.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures
Country
New Zealand and United States
Location
Campertown Studios/Stone Street Studios, Wellington, New Zealand; Auckland,New Zealand; Auckland,New Zealand; Auckland, North Island, New Zealand; Mount Crawford, North Island, New Zealand; Seaview, North Island, New Zealand; Wellington,New Zealand; Wellington, North Island, New Zealand

Technical Specs

Duration
3h

Synopsis

In 1933, after the New York vaudeville revue she is performing in closes due to poor ticket sales, versatile entertainer Ann Darrow is left sad and penniless. Reluctantly she takes the advice of Manny, a fellow trouper, and asks theatrical producer Weston if she can audition for a show written by her favorite playwright, Jack Driscoll. Weston turns her down, but suggests she try out for a friend's burlesque show. Meanwhile, in a New York screening room, moviemaker-showman Carl Denham works hard to convince four backers to continue financing his half-shot adventure epic. Denham insists that a map he recently acquired of an uncharted South Sea island will lead his film crew to a "primitive world, never before seen by man." The backers are skeptical, however, and while they are discussing his future in private, Denham steals the film and flees in a cab with his assistant, Preston. During the ride, the devoted Preston informs Denham that their size-four star has quit the production. Undaunted, Denham stops in front of a burlesque theater to look for possible size-four replacements and spies the slender Ann approaching. Denham watches Ann as she debates going inside and follows her after she decides against it. When a famished Ann is caught stealing an apple from a produce stand, Denham intercedes on her behalf. Over a hot restaurant meal, Denham starts to pitch her his island adventure story. To his delight, Ann adds her own romantic twists to the plot, and Denham happily offers her the lead. Noting that "good things never last," Ann turns him down, however, until Denham mentions that Jack Driscoll is writing the script. Ann agrees to join the production, which she has been led to believe is headed for Singapore. That night, as Denham, Ann, her narcissistic co-star Bruce Baxter, and the film crew are loading their equipment onto the S.S. Venture , Englehorn, the captain, refuses to take Denham because he has no manifest. Aware that the police are descending on him, Denham bribes Englehorn to change his mind. He then tricks Jack, who has written a mere fifteen pages of the screenplay, into sailing with them. Jack is forced to bunk in the cargo hold of the freighter, where Englehorn usually houses the wild animals he captures with chloroform. The next morning, Ann gets off to a rocky start with Jack when she mistakes the boyish Preston for him. Jack is attracted to Ann, however, and soon the two are falling in love. As they near Sumatra, Denham, who has kept the map a secret from all but Preston, finally tells Jack where they are actually headed. Their conversation is overheard by Jimmy, an impressionable young sailor, and Jimmy, who is engrossed in reading Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness , informs the rest of the crew. Jimmy's mentor, black first mate Mr. Hayes, tells Denham about a castaway they once rescued who had escaped from the mysterious Skull Island off Sumatra, where a huge "creature, neither beast nor man" resided. Denham shrugs off the tale and later, when Englehorn announces he has received a warrant for Denham's arrest and is taking the ship to Rangoon, Denham begs him to continue to Skull Island. Englehorn refuses but just then, a dense fog encircles the ship. Despite the crew's best efforts, the ship becomes jammed on the rocky outer edge of the island. The next morning Denham, Ann, Jack, Bruce and the film crew take a rowboat to the island proper. Immediately they notice human skulls lining the way to some rocky ruins and a huge gate and wall separating the shore from the lush interior jungle. Among the ruins the group discovers a dark young girl with reddish eyes. Seeing the blonde Ann the girl points menacingly at her, then bites Denham when he tries to give her some chocolate. Seconds later, the group is surrounded by sinister, red-eyed tribesmen, who spear the film's soundman through the chest. A great animal roar thunders through the jungle, and the tribe swarms the group and takes Ann hostage. The group is saved when Englehorn and the ship's crew appear with machine-guns. That night on the ship, Denham argues with Englehorn about leaving, unaware that tribesmen have snuck on board and abducted Ann. The ship finally breaks free of the rocks, but Jack realizes Ann is missing and demands that Englehorn return for her. Ann, meanwhile, is anointed by tribal elders during a frenzied human sacrifice ceremony and is strung up on a crude altar fashioned from tree limbs. Tribesmen then raise the towering altar, just as Denham and the others storm the shore. Through chinks in the great wall Denham sees a twenty-five-foot tall silverback gorilla emerge from the jungle and snatch Ann. Englehorn gives Denham twenty-four hours to rescue Ann, and without telling the others about the gorilla, Denham leads his film crew and some of the sailors into the jungle. The giant ape, meanwhile, races through the jungle with Ann tucked into his enormous hand. Ann escapes briefly after stabbing the ape with teeth decorating a tribal necklace she is wearing, but he quickly recaptures her. While stopped to rest, Denham, Bruce and cameraman Herbert sneak away from the group and discover a herd of brontosaurs grazing on jungle foliage. Ecstatic, Denham orders Bruce to approach the dinosaurs while the camera runs. Before he can get close, however, meat-eating raptors descend on the brontosaurs and cause a stampede. The entire group is caught up in the stampede, and Herbert is killed by a hungry raptor. The attack is halted after crewmen begin firing their machine-guns. Later, when Bruce declares his desire to leave without Ann, Jack accuses him of cowardice. On a cliff overlooking the entire island, the giant ape, meanwhile, finally puts Ann down and starts to eat. While he is distracted, Ann tries to slip away, but the ape stops her and roars to show his dominance. In response Ann breaks into her vaudeville routine. The ape is amused by Ann's acrobatics and dancing and, laughing, knocks her over with his fingers. When the exhausted Ann finally stops, the ape throws a tantrum, then calms and departs. Seeing her chance, Ann runs off into the jungle. Nearby the various crew members, led by Mr. Hayes, are confronted by the ape. To Jimmy's horror, the ape flings Mr. Hayes to his death when he tries to shoot him. The ape then begins shaking a log bridge on which Jack and others are fleeing, and the surviving men land in a damp pit. Ann, meanwhile, avoids being eaten by a giant lizard by hiding inside a hollowed-out log. When a Tyrannosaurus rex then comes along and chases her, the ape appears and rescues her. While holding Ann, the ape does battle with three T-Rexes, vanquishing them one by one. In the pit, the men then are attacked by giant centipedes, crickets, toothy slugs and other deadly creatures but finally are saved by Englehorn, Bruce and the remaining sailors. Although the others doubt that Ann is alive, Jack vows to find her. Without telling Jack, Denham decides to use Ann to lure the ape to the ship, where he will bombard him with Englehorn's chloroform. Back on the cliff, when Ann realizes the ape is admiring the breathtaking sunset, she pats her chest and says "beautiful." Later, while the ape sleeps, Jack climbs the cliff and discovers Ann nestled in the ape's hand. The two sneak off, but the ape awakens and, after battling enormous batlike creatures, chases them to the ship. As planned, Denham hurls bottles of chloroform at the ape, who finally collapses next to the ship. Sometime later in New York, Denham prepares to present the ape, whom he has named King Kong, the Eighth Wonder of the World, in a Broadway theater. Denham is the toast of the town, and the audience eagerly awaits his exotic Christmas-time spectacle. Tethered by iron chains, the sedated Kong wows the packed theater. As part of the show, Denham has recreated, Broadway-style, Ann's tribal sacrifice using a blonde lookalike. When flashbulbs on some photographers' cameras start popping in his face, Kong becomes enraged and tears free of his chains. Tossing spectators right and left, he storms outside and begins a frenzied, violent search for Ann. Fearing for Ann's safety, Jack commandeers a cab to find her and is pursued by Kong. Before the cab crashes on the icy streets, Jack leads Kong to the theater where Ann has been performing as a chorus girl, having refused to participate in Denham's Kong show. Outside the theater Ann and the ape reunite, and Ann allows Kong to carry her off. The two enjoy a brief frolic on an icy Central Park pond before soldiers begin firing on Kong. With Ann in hand, Kong races to climb the Empire State Building, the tallest skyscraper in the city. While resting on the observation deck, Kong and Ann watch the sunrise together. When Kong pats his chest, Ann realizes he is repeating her gesture from the island and says, "beautiful." Moments later, army pilots in biplanes begin strafing Kong with machine-gun fire. Kong climbs the building's spire and swats at the planes, downing some. Jack, meanwhile, races up to the observation deck just as a weakening Kong grabs Ann, who has followed him to the top, and places her safely inside the deck. The pilots keep plugging Kong with bullets until Ann finally rushes out and screams at them to stop. After Ann and the dying Kong exchange a final tender look, Kong slips silently off the skyscraper and falls to the street below. There, a crowd of onlookers quickly forms. Denham pushes his way to Kong's body and, quoting from an Arabian tale, declares that airplanes did not kill Kong¿"It was beauty killed the beast."

Cast

Naomi Watts

Ann Darrow

Jack Black

Carl Denham

Adrien Brody

Jack Driscoll

Thomas Kretschmann

Captain Englehorn

Colin Hanks

Preston

Andy Serkis

Kong/Lumpy

Evan Parke

[Mr.] Hayes

Jamie Bell

Jimmy

Lobo Chan

Choy

John Sumner

Herb[ert]

Craig Hall

Mike

Kyle Chandler

Bruce [Baxter]

William Johnson

Manny

Mark Hadlow

Harry

Geraldine Brophy

Maude

David Denis

Taps

David Pittu

Weston

Pip Mushin

Zelman

Jim Knobeloch

Thuggish executive

Ric Herbert

Sleazy executive

Lee Donahue

Studio assistant

Tom Hobbs

Young assistant

Tiriel Mora

Fruit vendor

Jed Brophy

Frank Edwards

Richard Kavanagh

Stephen Hall

Tim Wong

Steve Reinsfield

Lee Hartley

Radio operator

Troy O'kane

Toa Waaka

John Clarke

Greg Smith

Chris Bailey

Tamihana Nuku

Michael Lawrence

Crawford Thompson

William Wallace

Joe Folau

John Wraight

Matthew Chamberlain

Louis Sutherland

Jason Whyte

Ray Woolf

Helmsman

David Dengelo

Peter Mckenzie

Peter Ford

Russell Dubois

Billy Jackson

NY child

Katie Jackson

NY child

Tania Rodger

Hooverville mother

Samuel Taylor

Hooverville child

Hilton Denis

Geoff Dunstan

Daniel Tusia

Paul Wilson

Shannon Wilson

Jesse Rasmussen

Sosina Wogayehu

Peter Corrigan

Collin Boggars

Susan Eastwood

Caran Dallas

Darryl John

Felicia O'brien

Phillip Grieve

Laughing man

Belindalee Hope

Crushanin Dixor-mcivor

Jodie Taylor

Jacinta Wawatai

Feral child

Terence Griffiths

Skull pole vaulter

Vicky Haughton

Sharwoman

Luanne Gordon

Lorraine Ashbourne

Edwin Wright

Glen Drake

Tim Gordon

Hotel clerk

Julia Walshaw

Woman in Broadway show

Ross Duncan

Audience member

Stephen Buckley

Cab driver

Lee Mcdonald

Chorus line tap dancer

Stig Eldred

Army commander

Geoff Timblick

Pressman

Geoff Allen

Pressman

Matthew Dravitzki

Trampled theatre-goer

John Dybvig

NY police officer

Bob Burns

Kathy Burns

Jo Gertler

Jennifer Gertler

Rick Baker

Jim Dietz

William Randall Cook

Gene De Marco

Peter Jackson

Rick Porras

Frank Darabont

Hamish Bruce

Chic Littlewood

Old security guard

Matt Wilson

Photographer

Lawrence Jarden

NY police chief

Jim Mclarty

Photographer

Latham Gaines

Photographer

Crew

20th Century Fox Scoring

Score rec at

Johan Aberg

Compositing seq lead

Gino Acevedo

Special makeup Effects Supervisor, Skull Islanders

Gino Acevedo

Creature FX art Director

Annica Ackerman

Tech Music Coordinator

Holly Acton

Compositor

Georgina Lockhart Adams

Makeup & hair artist

Lucy Adams

Costume Assistant

Taipua Adams

Lighting tech

Guy Adan

Unit Publicist

Richard Addison-wood

Software dev Supervisor, Weta Digital Ltd.

Daniel Aird

Greensman

Malcolm Aitchison

Tech support lead, IT Department

Chris Aitken

Sculptor

Matt Aitken

Pre-prod CG Supervisor, Weta Digital Ltd.

Niklas Aldergren

Tech support, Weta Digital Ltd.

Neil Aldridge

Dial Assistant

Stephen Allanson

2d Assistant Camera

Belinda Allen

Texture painter

Jacqueline Allen

Assistant art Director

Ruben Allen

Props Assistant

Judy Alley

Assets Manager

Stan Alley

VFX on-set surveyor

Greg Allison

Miniatures tech

Jon Allitt

Massive Supervisor, Weta Digital Ltd.

Glen Altman

Painter, New York streets set

Colin Alway

Compositing seq lead

Stella Ampatzi

Paint artist

Svend Andersen

Database admin, IT Department

Chris Anderson

Stunt Coordinator

Dave Anderson

Lighting tech

Fraser Anderson

Brush hand

Frazer Anderson

Model tech, Addl miniatures unit

Glenn Anderson

Macintosh programmer, IT Department

Pippa Anderson

Post prod Supervisor

Ross Anderson

Special Effects tech

Scott E. Anderson

Vis Effects Supervisor, Weta Digital Ltd.

Kevin Anderton

Carpenter

Matt Andrews

Lighting tech

Malcolm Angell

VFX senior on-set surveyor

Charles Anglesey

Driver

Joel Anscombe-smith

Prod runner

Pete Anthony

Orch Conductor

Pete Anthony

Orchestration

Karl Anton

[Const] leading hand

Warner Anton

Carpenter, New York streets set

Matt Appleton

Miniatures tech

Christine Arboit

Creature TD

Dustin Archer

Paint labourer, New York streets set

Stephen Archer

Signwriter

Joe Ardent

Assistant TD

Elisabeth Arko

Senior anim

Hjalmar Arnold

[Const] labourer, New York streets set

Mike Arthur

Rigging tech

Nick Ashby

Art Department runner

Kayne Asher

Dolly grip

Gunner Ashford

Armourer

Clare Ashton

Painter, New York streets set

Daniel Ashton

Scan/Record tech, Scan/Record Department

Marc Ashton

Key 2d Assistant Director

Mia Askew

Texture painter

Aimee Aspinall

Assistant prod Coordinator

Rebecca Asquith

Model tech, Addl miniatures unit

Jeff Atmajian

Supervisor orchestrator

Mathew Austin

Paint labourer, New York streets set

Alvise Avati

Senior anim

Andy Ayrton

Rigging best boy

Glen Ayrton

Rigging tech

Jean-luc Azzis

2D lead compositor

Bruce Babcock

Orchestration

Sindharmawan Bachtiar

Render/Data wrangler, IT Department

Chris P. Bacon

Tech Music Coordinator

Timothy Baier

Compositor

Sarah Bailey-harper

Special Effects admin

Michael Bain

Camera TD/Matchmover

Richard Bain

Compositor

Robert Baldwin

Creature Designer/Sculptors

Michael Baltazar

3D lighting TD

Wendy Bambro-tilyard

Accounts Assistant, Weta Workshop Ltd.

Jack Barber

Model tech, Addl miniatures unit

Josh Bare

Digital modeler

Simon Barker

Hammerhand

Tim Barlowe

Set dresser, New York streets set

Saul Barnes

Special makeup Effects & wig tech &/or on-set application, Skull Islanders

Tim Barnett

[Const] leading hand, New York streets set

Jeremy Barr

Model tech, Addl miniatures unit

Miriam Barrard

Set Design

Ned Barraud

Texture painter

Teresa Barsali

Prod runner, Prod

Fiona Bartlet

On set prod Assistant

Paul Bashford

Hammerhand, New York streets set

John Baster

Miniatures Supervisor

Heath Batchelor

Miniatures tech

Ian Batten

Hammerhand

Peter Baustaedter

Matte painter

Steve Bayliss

Accountant, Prod

Dugan Beach

Creature TD

Jamie Beard

Anim seq lead

Kelly Bechtle-woods

3D lighting TD

Lyse Beck

2D lead compositor

Uli Beck-schneider

Miniatures tech

Tk Bedford

Grip Assistant, Addl miniatures unit

Cory Bedwell

3D lighting lead

Ray Beentjes

Dial Editor

Keith Begley

Carpenter

Joel Behrens

Compositor

Samantha Belcher

Creature Designer/Sculptors

Adrian Bell

Digital modeler

Paula Bell

Lead paint artist

Carl Bellavia

New York loc scout

Stephen Belsten

Sculptor

Kyla Bendall

Texture painter

Daniel Bennett

Miniatures tech

James Bennett

Anim

Jeremy Bennett

Conceptual Designer

Lee Bennett

Miniatures tech

Neil Benseman

Rigging tech

John R. A. Benson

Compositor

Becky Bentham

UK vocal Coordinator

Niki Bern

Compositor

James Best

2d unit digital assist Assistant

Jamie Beswarick

Creature Designer/Sculptors

Chris Beth

Ethnic wind

Hannah Bianchini

Art Department Manager

Ian Bidgood

Tech Supervisor

Erik Bierens

Camera TD/Matchmover

Kris Bieringa

Render/Data wrangler, IT Department

Michal Bigger

Make up to Ms. Watts

John-michael Bills

Lead roto artist

Graham Binding

Anim

Danielle Birch

Publicist & merchandising Coordinator, Prod

Colette Birrell

Assistant prod Coordinator

David Birrell

1st Assistant Editor

Alex Bishop

2d unit clapper loader

Phil Blackburn

Rigging tech

Joseph Bleakley

Art Director

Brett Blenkin

Const Manager

Jan Blenkin

Producer

Jeremy Blincoe

[Paint] labourer

Hákan Blomdahl

Compositor

Hayden Bloomfield

Makeup Assistant

Jennifer Bloomfield

Texture painter

Richard Bluck

2d unit Director of Photographer

Tanya Blumstein

Dialect coach

Kelly Boak

Texture Department Coordinator

Martin Body

Lead roto artist

Rachael Boggs

On set prod Assistant

Jeremy Bolan

Anim

Shaun Bolton

Greensman

Shaun Bolton

Creature Designer/Sculptors

Anto Bond

Digital modeler

Garry Bonnar

Hammerhand, New York streets set

Mike Bonnar

[Const] leading hand, Rock & foam

Samati Boonchitsitsak

Anim

Dave Booth

Special Effects tech

Melissa Booth

Unit Publicist

Nick Booth

Scan/Record Supervisor, Scan/Record Department

Paul Booth

Extras standby Assistant

Philip Borg

3D lighting TD

Fernando Borges-pacheco

Creature TD

Chris Boswell

Cast chef

John Boswell

Mix Assistant

Jacob Botting

Mocap stage Manager

Laura-jane Botting

Prod Assistant, Prod

Liz Bowen

2d unit unit Assistant

Mark Bowen

Roto artist

Chantelle Bowkett

Standby Assistant

James Boyce

Prod runner, Prod

Philippa Boyens

Screenwriter

Philippa Boyens

Co-producer

Christopher Boyes

Re-rec mixer

Eric Boyle

Carpenter, New York streets set

Steven Boyle

Special makeup Effects & wig tech &/or on-set application, Skull Islanders

Adam Bradley

Roto artist

Darren Bradnock

Grip

Michael Braid

Rigger

Shane Braid

Rigger

Lee Bramwel

Camera Supervisor, Weta Digital Ltd.

Michael Brazelton

Paint artist

Amy Brennan

Wingnut Films prod Assistant

Kristie Breslin

Art Department Coordinator

John Brien

Carpenter

Simon Bright

Set Decoration

Simon Bright

Art Director

Greg Broadmore

Creature Designer/Sculptors

Don Brooker

Creature Designer/Sculptors

Loren Brookes

System coder, IT Department

Jonny Brough

Painting tech

Dave Brown

Rigging gaffer

Duncan Brown

Urethane sprayer, Miniatures

Hamish Brown

Costume Assistant

Hamish Brown

Costume tech &/or on-set dresser, Skull Islanders

Jeffrey Brown

Carpenter, New York streets set

Samantha Brown

Costume Assistant

Hamish Bruce

Steelworker

David Brunette

Compositor

Anne Bruning

Unit Production Manager

Julian Bryant

Compositor

Tanya Buchanan

Recruitment Manager, Prod

Bob Buck

Extras Coordinator

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Action
Adventure
Adaptation
Release Date
Dec 14, 2005
Premiere Information
World premiere in New York: 5 Dec 2005
Production Company
Universal Pictures; Wingnut Films, Ltd.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures
Country
New Zealand and United States
Location
Campertown Studios/Stone Street Studios, Wellington, New Zealand; Auckland,New Zealand; Auckland,New Zealand; Auckland, North Island, New Zealand; Mount Crawford, North Island, New Zealand; Seaview, North Island, New Zealand; Wellington,New Zealand; Wellington, North Island, New Zealand

Technical Specs

Duration
3h

Award Wins

Best Sound

2005

Best Sound Editing

2005

Best Visual Effects

2005

Award Nominations

Set Decoration

2005

Articles

King Kong: The History of a Movie Icon From Fay Wray to Peter Jackson


He is one of the most amazing, popular, and iconic characters in the history of motion pictures. His 1933 debut was a legendary piece of pure cinema - simultaneously a terrifying monster movie, epic fairy tale, tragic love story, and deeply resonant cultural myth. His name is King Kong. Ray Morton's King Kong - The Making of a Movie Icon (Applause Books) is the first book to chronicle the making of all seven feature films in which the character of Kong has appeared, including the hotly anticipated Peter Jackson film opening in December 2005. It is generously illustrated with photographs, production art, and promotional materials from the author's extensive private collection.

Morton has interviewed the surviving members of each major film. A colorful overview of the tremendous amount of collectible Kong merchandise is also on view for all the fans of Kongdom to devour.

Morton, who has worked in Hollywood for the past 15 years as a writer, story consultant and script analyst and is currently a senior writer and columnist for Sc(i)pt magazine, first saw the original King Kong on TV when he was 8 years old. Fascinated by the character and thrilled with the cinematic magic that brought him to life, Morton has spent years researching the various films and, in the process, accumulating the wealth of in-depth information and detail that forms the basis of this book.

To order The Direct Cinema of David and Albert Maysles, use this link to Barnes and Noble.
King Kong: The History Of A Movie Icon From Fay Wray To Peter Jackson

King Kong: The History of a Movie Icon From Fay Wray to Peter Jackson

He is one of the most amazing, popular, and iconic characters in the history of motion pictures. His 1933 debut was a legendary piece of pure cinema - simultaneously a terrifying monster movie, epic fairy tale, tragic love story, and deeply resonant cultural myth. His name is King Kong. Ray Morton's King Kong - The Making of a Movie Icon (Applause Books) is the first book to chronicle the making of all seven feature films in which the character of Kong has appeared, including the hotly anticipated Peter Jackson film opening in December 2005. It is generously illustrated with photographs, production art, and promotional materials from the author's extensive private collection. Morton has interviewed the surviving members of each major film. A colorful overview of the tremendous amount of collectible Kong merchandise is also on view for all the fans of Kongdom to devour. Morton, who has worked in Hollywood for the past 15 years as a writer, story consultant and script analyst and is currently a senior writer and columnist for Sc(i)pt magazine, first saw the original King Kong on TV when he was 8 years old. Fascinated by the character and thrilled with the cinematic magic that brought him to life, Morton has spent years researching the various films and, in the process, accumulating the wealth of in-depth information and detail that forms the basis of this book. To order The Direct Cinema of David and Albert Maysles, use this link to Barnes and Noble.

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

King Kong is a remake of the 1933 RKO Radio Pictures release of the same name . The original film was directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack and starred Fay Wray as "Ann Darrow," Robert Armstrong as "Carl Denham" and Bruce Cabot as "Jack Driscoll." Ruth Rose and Joseph Creelman wrote the first film's screenplay, and Cooper and Edgar Wallace were credited with "original idea." Cooper and Wallace received an onscreen story credit on the 2005 film. Portions of composer Max Steiner's score for the 1933 film was incorporated into James Newton Howard's score for the 2005 film. Willis O'Brien conceived the first film's groundbreaking stop-motion animation. The closing credits of the 2005 King Kong included the following dedication: "This film is dedicated with love and respect to the original adventurers of Skull Island: Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack, Willis H. O'Brien, Max Steiner, Robert Armstrong and . . . the incomparable Fay Wray. They continue to inspire all those who follow in their footsteps." The filmmakers thanked a number of people in the ending credits, among them, actress and former vaudevillian June Havoc, Wray's daughter Victoria Riskin and other individuals and companies affiliated with various aspects of the production.
       As noted in many sources, director Peter Jackson was inspired to become a filmmaker after he saw the original King Kong on television as a nine year old in New Zealand. In a January 19, 1997 The Times (London) article, Jackson claimed that the day after he saw the 1933 picture, he got out his "'parents' Super 8 camera and started taking pictures of the Plasticine dinosaurs. I can't tell you what an effect it had on me.'" Six years later the still-obsessed Jackson made a cardboard cutout of the Empire State Building and painted a Manhattan backdrop, intending to recreate the film's final sequence using a King Kong puppet. Over the years, Jackson has acquired many items, including O'Brien's special effects camera and various King Kong models, associated with the original film.
       According to The Times (London) article, executives at Universal, which released the 2005 film, did not know that King Kong was Jackson's favorite movie when they suggested he direct the remake. Universal first approached Jackson about the film in early 1996, while he was making the horror picture The Frighteners for the studio. The Times article stated that Universal had first offered the film to Roland Emmerich, who had directed the studio's 1996 blockbuster Independence Day. As noted in various sources, Universal's original offer to Jackson included a $6.5 million director's fee.
       Jackson and his co-screenwriter and life partner, Fran Walsh, completed a draft of the script in December 1996, according to the The Times (London) article. Shooting was scheduled to start in May 1997. The book The Making of King Kong: The Official Guide to the Motion Picture stated that Jackson first planned to use a combination of stop-motion animation, animatronics and digital effects to bring Kong and Skull Island to life. For six months, a large crew at Weta Workshop and Weta Digital, Jackson's Stone Street production houses near Wellington, New Zealand, worked on the project, designing and building miniatures of Skull Island, Kong and various other creatures.
       Although Jackson reportedly had always intended to set the story during the Depression, an April 2003 Newsweek article stated that in the first draft of the script, the Ann Darrow character was written as a "Lara Croftian explorer." Kate Winslet, who had starred in Jackson's 1994 film Heavenly Creatures, and Minnie Driver were mentioned as possible stars in the The Times (London) article.
       According to a January 17, 1997 Hollywood Reporter article, the King Kong remake, which was to be a joint venture between Universal and Disney's Miramax Pictures, was shelved temporarily because of feared competition with Disney's 1998 remake of the 1949 RKO picture Mighty Joe Young, and TriStar's big-budget remake of the 1956 Japanese film Godzilla, released in the same year.
       Initially, production on King Kong was rescheduled for 1998, but as noted in various sources, the subsequent box-office failure of Mighty Joe Young and Godzilla caused Miramax to back out of the project. Jackson then began work on his hugely successful Lord of the Rings trilogy, which took seven years to complete. During that period, Philippa Boyens, who also worked with Jackson and Walsh on the Lord of the Rings screenplays, was brought in to collaborate on the King Kong script.
       In August 2003, news sources announced that Jackson had signed a $20 million contract against 20 percent of the gross to write, produce and direct King Kong. Jackson's deal included salaries for collaborators Walsh and Boyens. After Boyens was hired, the script returned solidly to its 1933 roots. The 2005 version contains numerous allusions and tributes to the original, including a line in which Denham curses an RKO director named Cooper for stealing his leading lady. Some of the remake's dialogue was taken directly from the 1933 script, most notably Denham's closing "beauty and beast" line. In addition, dancers who appear in Kong's New York show were dressed like the Skull Island tribesmen from the original movie. According to The Making of King Kong, the prop department of the 2005 film made exact replicas of the prop spears used by the 1933 dancers, which Jackson had purchased in an auction. Music that accompanied their dance was taken directly from Steiner's score for the 1933 picture.
       Although the remake retained the first film's overall structure and storyline, Jackson, Walsh and Boyens expanded on and changed some critical plot elements. In the original, Jack Driscoll, Ann's human love interest, is the ship's first mate. The 1933 script had neither a writer character, nor a male co-star. In the remake, lines spoken by "Bruce Baxter" as his film-within-a-film character were lines spoken by Bruce Cabot in the original. Ann's character is more developed in the remake than in the 1933 film. In the original, the impoverished Ann is easily persuaded to join the voyage and is terrified of Kong throughout the story. As noted by many critics, in the original, Ann and Kong have an odd sexual relationship, but in the remake, their relationship is born out of respect and friendship.
       Denham in the original film is more sympathetic than in the remake, and is not suffering financial or legal difficulties. In Son of Kong, the 1933 sequel to the original King Kong , however, Denham does dodge creditors and subpoenas resulting from Kong's rampage through Manhattan. The original Denham was based on Merian C. Cooper, a larger-than-life adventurer/filmmaker. In The Making of King Kong, Boyens claimed that, in addition to Cooper, her revised Denham character was based somewhat on director Orson Welles and that the idea for having Denham steal his own film came from a story she once heard about Welles. In the 1960s, Welles reportedly used some of the money given to him by backers to make a Western to shoot a completely different film, Falstaff . Jackson also used Welles as a model for actor Jack Black's hair and costumes. According to a December 5, 2005 Newsweek article, Jackson picked Black to play Denham after repeated viewings of Black's 2003 film School of Rock, in which Black played a resourceful, rascally teacher.
       According to The Making of King Kong, except for the opening and closing theater scenes, the entire film was studio-made. Jackson and his film crew went to great lengths to make the production as detailed and historically accurate as possible. The film's complex visual approach combined miniature and motion-capture footage with regular live-action, "green-screen" live-action (in which actors play against a blank green screen onto which computer-generated special effects shots are added later) and live-action against motion-capture footage. According to a December 2005 Entertainment Weekly article, the final film contained 1,600 computer-generated shots, which required 500 animators to construct.
       When conceiving Skull Island, the production design team, led by Grant Major, used the artwork of nineteenth-century illustrator Gustave Doré as inspiration. (Doré was also a visual source for the 1933 King Kong.) In keeping with Doré's style, Jackson wanted close objects to be silhouetted and dark, and distant objects to be flatter and brighter. Jungle footage was derived from a combination of live-action sets, miniatures and digital elements. Wind machines helped make the jungle sets appear more natural.
       Inspiration for the island's inhabitants came from a National Geographic magazine photo, according to The Making of King Kong. The photo depicted an African tribesman with extremely dark skin and eyes that were reddened with berry juice for ceremonial purposes. To create a similar look for the island villagers, the makeup department made red sclera contact lenses to fit over the performers' eyes. The actors, who were of Asian and African descent, were spray-painted to make their skin appear darker. The village set was built on Mount Crawford, near Weta. Only the lower third, or forty feet, of the village set was built to scale. The top portion was filmed as miniatures.
       For the New York sets, according to The Making of King Kong, the design team did extensive historical research, finding images and blueprints from the period and reproducing some exactly. Blueprints and photographs of the Empire State Building were followed carefully to recreate the building, both as sets and digitally. Sets included the building's entrance lobby, observation decks, stairways, exterior walkway, ladders and cone tip.
       Designers studied period photographs of New York streets to determine how many extras (real and computer-generated) to include in a given scene. Several blocks of New York sets were built in Seaview, near Wellington. As none of the buildings in the set exceeded five meters, their tops were added digitally. At the height of construction, the art department employed as many as 475 to 500 people. For the interior of the Broadway theater, Jackson shot at the Civic Theatre in Auckland, New Zealand.
       As noted in The Making of King Kong, precise replicas of Curtiss Helldiver airplanes were built for the film, using drawings procured from the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Aircraft consultant Gene De Marco (who also plays a pilot in the film) duplicated the plane's instrument panels, with some actual flight instruments from the period included. For some of the shots of the S.S. Venture, Jackson refitted an actual freighter built in the 1950s. The ship's interiors were constructed as individual sets, however, and other shots were done using miniatures.
       According to The Making of King Kong, Adrien Brody did most of his own stunt driving during the icy cab chase scene. Jackson's children, Billy and Katie, appear in the film as "NY children," and Jackson and fellow director Frank Darabont appear as "Gunners." The inclusion of the directors is another homage to the original King Kong, as Cooper and Schoedsack appeared as gunners in the 1933 film. Rick Baker, who worked on the 1976 King Kong, plays a pilot. Although their appearance in the film has not been confirmed, an online source adds the following actors to the cast: Jarl Benzon, T. M. Bishop, Sandro Kopp, Todd Rippon, Nicholas Marino and Matt Panzera.
       For the 1933 King Kong, animator Willis O'Brien used different-sized, fur-covered miniatures to represent Kong onscreen. The 2005 Kong was computer generated, although Kong's movements and facial expressions were created by the use of motion-capture techniques that utilized the body and movements of actor Andy Serkis. Serkis, who also plays sailor "Lumpy" in the film, spent eighteen months developing his Kong character, according to a December 20, 2005 Los Angeles Times article. Serkis' research included working for several months as a keeper to four gorillas at the London zoo. Serkis also studied mountain gorillas at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International in Rwanda prior to production.
       As noted in the Los Angeles Times article, Serkis, who played "Gollum," another motion-capture character, in Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, performed scenes with Watts during principal photography, although only Naomi Watts appeared on camera. For those scenes, Serkis wore a furless, muscled gorilla suit and arm extensions to simulate a gorilla's knuckle-dragging gait. Sometimes he was placed on cranes and ladders so that sight lines between him and Watts would make visual sense when edited. Serkis' gorilla vocalizations were lowered electronically and amplified through a close-mike.
       After principal photography, Serkis spent another two months on the motion capture stage at Weta Digital. There Serkis performed his live-action scenes again, playing off the other actors' footage, which was projected in front of him on hand-held monitors. To accommodate Kong's long-armed gait, sets on the motion capture stage were built on two levels. While wearing a padded body suit, weights on his arms and legs to approximate an oversized gorilla's larger and slower movements, fake Kong teeth and a microphone, Serkis enacted all of his on-camera shots. Attached to Serkis' body were hundreds of electronic markers sending information about his movements to a computer-controlled camera. The computer then translated the footage into realistic 3-D animation. To capture Kong's subtle eye and facial movements, over 130 markers were attached to Serkis' face.
       As noted in The Making of King Kong, with the exception of one flightless bird, which was done as a puppet, dinosaurs and other Skull Island creatures were devised digitally using 3-D imaging technology. Unlike other aspects of the production, for the depiction of the dinosaurs Jackson did not demand absolute accuracy, preferring instead a more fanciful approach. The drawings of Charles Knight, an early "dinosaur artist," inspired some of the creatures' design. The pit scene, in which several crew members are attacked and devoured by oversized spider crabs, insects and slugs, was modeled on a scene from the 1933 King Kong that was shot but cut from the final film. One of the insects was inspired by wetas, cricket-like insects native to New Zealand (and the source of Jackson's special effects facility's name).
       In October 2005, James Newton Howard replaced Howard Shore, who had worked with Jackson on all of the Lord of the Rings films, as the film's composer. According to a November 2005 Daily Variety article, Shore and Jackson parted ways due to "differing creative aspirations." Shore, who also orchestrates and conducts his scores, averaged only eight minutes of recording per day, a pace that threatened the tight schedule. He had been recording his unfinished score for nine days when he was replaced.
       According to Daily Variety, Howard composed all of the film's major musical themes in three days and only spent six weeks writing and recording the score. In order to meet the studio's deadline, he used six orchestrators and three conductors to record fifteen to twenty minutes of music a day. Due to the last-minute changes, most of the recording was done on weekends and at night at three different Los Angeles sound stages.
       During filming, Jackson shot weekly production "diaries," which he posted on a fan-based website. The diaries began on the first day of principal photography and continued through the final phase of post-production and the New York and Wellington premieres. Although behind-the-scenes "making of" documentaries are common on DVD releases, the King Kong diaries marked the first time that a director chronicled the filmmaking process on a weekly basis and made it available to the public before the picture's release. In addition to showing the technical aspects of the production, the diaries revealed Jackson's exhaustion and seventy-pound weight loss. A day before the film's national opening, Universal released a three-and-a-half-hour DVD of all the production diaries shot during principal photography.
       In March 2005, according to a Variety item, Jackson invited about 200 people, including Universal executives and exhibitor representatives, to view eighteen minutes of footage from the film. Although Jackson displayed some of the film's miniatures and explained its special effects, he required that all attendees sign confidentiality agreements and prohibited cameras and cell phones in the theater. According to an Entertainment Weekly article, in June 2005, Universal then launched an elaborate publicity campaign for the film, which included broadcasting a two-and-a-half minute trailer on ten of its NBC networks.
       According to an October 2005 Daily Variety item, Jackson's original contract with Universal "contemplated a running time of about 2 ½ hours, with a budget around $175 million" and included a penalty for Jackson if the production went over budget. The film's final budget was around $207 million, and its running time, three-plus hours (twice as long as the 1933 picture). Jackson agreed to pay $32 million in overages, according to the Daily Variety item, after Universal executives screened the picture and endorsed the longer running time. In addition to studio money, onscreen credits note that the picture was "filmed with the support of the financial incentives provided by the New Zealand Large Budget Screen Production Grant."
       For its December 5, 2005 New York world premiere, the picture was shown on thirty-eight screens, with a total of 8,000 seats in two Times Square complexes. A twenty-foot Kong replica was installed nearby. In recognition of King Kong's place in New York cultural history, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg declared the day "King Kong Day" and gave Jackson the keys to the city.
       The picture opened nationally in 3,568 theaters, the second largest U.S. opening in Hollywood history (after Shrek II). During its Friday-Sunday opening weekend, it earned $50.1 million, the fourth-largest December box-office take. Because of the film's big budget and intensive marketing campaign, many studio analysts described the early ticket sales as disappointing. The film's long running time, which limited the number of possible daily screenings, was cited as the primary reason for the smaller-than-expected opening week box office. The film retained its number one status through the following Christmas weekend, however, a sign that its appeal was growing. As of January 16, 2006, the film's North American box office receipts totalled over $204,000,000.
       The film received mostly glowing reviews. Critic Roger Ebert called it "surprisingly involving and rather beautiful," while the NYT reviewer gushed, "It is shameless and exalted, absurd and sublime, vulgar and grand. It's what movies were made for." King Kong was included on AFI's ten Movies of the Year list for 2005 and received three Academy Awards: Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects. The film received one additional Academy Award nomination, for Art Direction. Jackson received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Director, and Howard's musical score was nominated for a Golden Globe. The picture also earned a National Board of Review Special Achievement Award for its special effects.
       According to a November 2005 Hollywood Reporter item, In-Three, a company that converts traditional films into 3-D, was working on a 3-D version of King Kong. Although a Universal spokesman denied that the picture would be converted to 3-D, the Hollywood Reporter item speculated that a 3-D version would likely be shown in theaters "several months into the movie's run."
       In 1976, Universal released its first remake of the 1933 picture, also titled King Kong. That version, produced by Dino De Laurentiis and directed by Jack Guillerman, starred Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange. De Laurentiis produced a sequel to the 1976 remake in 1986, titled King Kong Lives. To coincide with Jackson's remake's release, in December 2005 Warner Bros. released a special edition DVD version of the 1933 King Kong. The DVD contains a 159-minute documentary about the original, which Jackson supervised. The documentary includes a Weta-produced reconstruction of the lost spider-pit scene and re-created models and scenery. For more information on films featuring King Kong and King Kong's cultural legacy, see entry above for the 1933 King Kong.

Miscellaneous Notes

Winner of the 2005 award for Actress of the Year (Naomi Watts) by the London Critics' Circle.

Winner of the 2005 award for Best Special Visual Effects by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).

Winner of the 2005 award for Outstanding Achievement in Special Effects by the National Board of Review (NBR).

Winner of three 2005 awards including Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects Driven Motion Picture, Outstanding Performance by an Animated Character in a Live Action Motion Picture and Outstanding Created Environment in a Live Action Motion Picture by the Visual Effects Society (VES).

Released in United States Winter December 14, 2005

Released in United States on Video March 28, 2006

Composer Howard Shore was previously attached to the project.

Originally developed by Peter Jackson in 1996 as a co-production between Universal Pictures and Miramax Films. However, the project stalled in January 1997. When Universal revived it in early 2003, Miramax had bowed out. Director Peter Jackson signed on to produce, write and direct for $20 million against 20% of the gross, which he shares with writers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens.

Previous versions of "King Kong" were directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack (USA/1933), starring Fay Wray; and John Guillermin (USA/1976), starring Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange.

Actor Andy Serkis will also provide the basis for the CGI-motored emotions of King Kong.

Released in United States Winter December 14, 2005

Released in United States on Video March 28, 2006

Voted one of the 10 best films of 2005 by the American Film Institute (AFI).