King Kong (franchise)

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King Kong
Kingkongposter.jpg
Theatrical release poster for King Kong (1933).
Studios
No. of films12
Years active1933–present
Main characterKing Kong
First filmKing Kong (1933)
Latest filmGodzilla vs. Kong (2020)
Genre(s)Kaiju
Tokusatsu
Monster
Science fiction
Fantasy
Horror
CountryUnited States
Japan

King Kong is an American media franchise featuring King Kong, initially created by Radio Pictures and its films over the years are currently owned by various other studios, including Toho, Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, and Warner Bros. The film franchise consists of 12 films, seven Hollywood films, two produced by Toho, and three direct-to-video animated films. The first film, King Kong, was directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack and released by Radio Pictures in 1933 and became an influential classic of the genre. Toho was later inspired to make the original Godzilla after the commercial success of the 1952 re-release of King Kong and the success of The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953). The success of King Kong would go on to inspire other monster films worldwide. The popularity of the films has led to the franchise expanding to other media, such as television, music, literature and video games. King Kong has been one of the most recognizable symbols in American pop culture worldwide and remains a well-known facet of American films. The character of King Kong has become one of the world's most famous movie icons, having inspired a number of sequels, remakes, spin-offs, imitators, parodies, cartoons, books, comics, video games, theme park rides, and a stage play. His role in the different narratives varies, ranging from a rampaging monster to a tragic antihero.

Following the release of the original film, a sequel was produced that same year with The Son of Kong, featuring Little Kong. In the 1960s, Toho produced King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), pitting a larger Kong against Toho's own Godzilla, and King Kong Escapes (1967), based on The King Kong Show (1966–1969) from Rankin/Bass Productions and pitting Kong against Mechani-Kong and Gorosaurus. In 1976, Dino De Laurentiis produced a modern remake of the original film directed by John Guillermin. A sequel, King Kong Lives, followed a decade later featuring a Lady Kong. Another remake of the original, this time set in 1933, was released in 2005 from filmmaker Peter Jackson. The most recent film, Kong: Skull Island (2017), is a reboot set in 1973 and is part of Legendary Entertainment's MonsterVerse, which began with Legendary's reboot of Godzilla in 2014 and continuing with Godzilla: King of the Monsters in 2019, in which Kong made multiple guest appearances, and a second crossover sequel, Godzilla vs. Kong, currently planned for 2020 will once again pit the characters against one another.

History[edit]

Every film incarnation of King Kong between 1933–2017

Radio Pictures period (1933)[edit]

In 1933, Radio Pictures produced the original classic King Kong which was followed by the less respected Son of Kong later the same year. The films were largely praised for their use of stop-motion effects.

Toho period (1962-1967)[edit]

In 1962, the Japanese company Toho Co., Ltd. produced a successful crossover between King Kong and their own Godzilla franchise with King Kong vs. Godzilla and later released the stand-alone film King Kong Escapes in 1967 where Kong was instead put up against a robot version of himself called Mechani-Kong.

De Laurentiis period (1976-1986)[edit]

In 1976, Dino De Laurentiis produced a remake of the original film from 1933 which was once again titled as simply King Kong and following almost the same basic plot, though it was less well-received than the original film. Despite this, a sequel later followed with King Kong Lives in 1986 where Kong is resurrected and meets a female version of his own species and form a family.

Animated musical film (1998)[edit]

In 1998, Warner Bros. released the direct-to-video animated musical film The Mighty Kong based upon the plot of the original 1933 film. It featured the voices of Jodi Benson as Ann Darrow and Dudley Moore as Carl Denham. This film also featured a song score by the Sherman Brothers. At the end of the film, King Kong falls from the Empire State Building after getting out of the net that the blimps were using on him. Due to this being a family film, King Kong survives the fall.

Animated TV-films (2005-2006)[edit]

Between 2005 and 2006, BKN released two animated films, Kong: King of Atlantis and Kong: Return to the Jungle, acting as spin-offs to Kong: The Animated Series.

Universal Studios period (2005)[edit]

In 2005, Universal Pictures released yet another remake of the 1933 film in conjunction with Peter Jackson and once more titled as simply King Kong. The movie was well-received by audiences and praised for its special effects and cinematography and spawned masses of merchandise and spin-off attractions, including a highly praised video game adaptation acting as an alternate version of the movie.

Legendary period (2017-ongoing)[edit]

In 2017, Legendary released a reboot of the franchise with Kong: Skull Island, the second film in Legendary's MonsterVerse which began with Gareth Edwards' 2014 film Godzilla and continued with Godzilla: King of the Monsters in 2019, where Kong made multiple appearances, before concluding with a second crossover film titled Godzilla vs. Kong which is set for release in 2020.

Filmography[edit]

From 1933 through 2020, there have been 12 King Kong films produced, with 10 American productions and 2 Japanese productions.

Film U.S. release date Director(s) Story by Screenwriter(s) Producer(s) Distributor(s)
King Kong March 2, 1933 (1933-03-02) Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack Edgar Wallace and Merian C. Cooper[1] James Creelman and Ruth Rose Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack Radio Pictures
Son of Kong December 22, 1933 (1933-12-22) Ernest B. Schoedsack Ruth Rose Ernest B. Schoedsack
King Kong vs. Godzilla August 11, 1962 (1962-08-11) Ishirō Honda (Japan)
Thomas Montgomery (U.S.)
Shinichi Sekizawa Tomoyuki Tanaka (Japan)
John Beck (U.S.)
Toho (Japan)
Universal International (U.S.)
King Kong Escapes July 22, 1967 (1967-07-22) Ishirō Honda Arthur Rankin Jr. Kaoru Mabuchi Tomoyuki Tanaka and Arthur Rankin Jr.
King Kong December 17, 1976 (1976-12-17) John Guillermin Lorenzo Semple Jr. Dino De Laurentiis Paramount Pictures
King Kong Lives December 19, 1986 (1986-12-19) Ronald Shusett and Steven Pressfield Martha Schumacher De Laurentiis Entertainment Group
The Mighty Kong June 16, 1998 (1998-06-16) Art Scott William J. Keenan Denis deVallance
Lyn Henderson
Warner Bros.
Kong: King of Atlantis November 22, 2005 (2005-11-22) Patrick Archibald Merian C. Cooper
Edgar Wallace
Allen Bohbot BKN International
King Kong December 14, 2005 (2005-12-14) Peter Jackson Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson Jan Blenkin, Carolynne Cunningham, Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson Universal Studios
Kong: Return to the Jungle November 14, 2006 (2006-11-14) Stuart Evans Sean Catherine Derek
Rick Ungar
Allen Bohbot
Rick Ungar
BKN International
Kong: Skull Island March 10, 2017 (2017-03-10) Jordan Vogt-Roberts John Gatins Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, and Derek Connolly Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, Alex Garcia and Mary Parent Warner Bros.
Godzilla vs. Kong November 20, 2020 (2020-11-20) Adam Wingard TBA Terry Rossio

Guest appearances[edit]

Both Kong and Skull Island were referenced and made multiple appearances in the 2019 film Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

Related films[edit]

  • The premise of a giant gorilla brought to the United States for entertainment purposes, and subsequently wreaking havoc, was recycled in Mighty Joe Young (1949), through the same studio and with much of the same principal talent as the 1933 original. It was remade in 1998.
  • King Kong bears some similarities with an earlier effort by special effects head Willis H. O'Brien, The Lost World (1925), in which dinosaurs are found living on an isolated plateau.
  • Banglar King Kong – An unofficial Bangladeshi musical based on the King Kong story and directed by Iftekar Jahan. The film uses large amounts of stock footage from King Kong and premiered in June 2010 in the Purnima Cinema Hall in Dhaka.[2]
  • Other similar giant ape films include:
    • The 1949 American comedy film Africa Screams, where a giant ape briefly appears.
    • The 1961 British film Konga, where a chimpanzee is enlarged after being fed a growth serum by a deranged scientist and attacks London.
    • The 1969 American film The Mighty Gorga, which features a circus owner's quest to capture a giant gorilla in an African jungle. Unlike King Kong, Gorga remains in Africa.
    • The 1976 Korean 3D film Ape,[3] where a giant ape runs amok in Seoul, South Korea.
    • The 1976 British film Queen Kong, a film that parodies King Kong with a gender reversal between the giant ape and the object of the ape's affection.
    • The 1977 Hong Kong film The Mighty Peking Man, featuring a huge Bigfoot/ape-like creature that attacks Hong Kong after it was brought to Hong Kong from its territory somewhere in India near the Himalayas.
    • The 1977 Italian film Yeti: The 20th Century Giant, featuring a giant abominable snowman running amok in Ontario after a millionaire industrialist thaws it out of a block of ice.
    • The 2018 American film Rampage, featuring a giant albino western lowland gorilla named George. The film is based on the 1986 arcade game Rampage, which itself is a video game parody of giant monster films.

King Kong in the name[edit]

A publicity still of Isamu Yamaguchi playing King Kong on stage from Wasei Kingu Kongu

There were other movies to have borne the "King Kong" name that have nothing to do with the character.

  • A lost silent Japanese short, Japanese King Kong (和製キングコング, Wasei Kingu Kongu), directed by Torajiro Saito, featuring an all-Japanese cast and produced by the Shochiku company, was released in 1933. The plot revolves around a down-on-his-luck man who plays the King Kong character in a vaudeville theater to earn money to woo a girl he likes. The film does not actually involve King Kong per se.
  • King Kong Appears in Edo (江戸に現れたキングコング, Edo ni Arawareta Kingu Kongu). A lost two-part silent Japanese period piece that was produced by a company called Zensho Kinema in 1938. The film revolves around kidnapping and revenge amongst the characters. The "King Kong" in this film is a trained ape (that looks more like a Yeti) who is used to kidnap one of the characters. Judging by the plot synopsis presented by periodicals at the time, the "King Kong" is regular-sized and is only depicted as gigantic on the advertisements for promotional purposes.[4]
  • The 1959 Hong Kong film King Kong's Adventures in the Heavenly Palace which featured a normal-sized gorilla.[5]
  • The Hindi films King Kong (1962) and Tarzan and King Kong (1965) which featured the professional wrestler King Kong and has nothing to do with the famous movie monster, although the latter film featured a normal-sized gorilla.
  • The 1968 Italian film Kong Island (Eva, la Venere selvaggia, literally Eve, the Wild Woman) which was advertised in the U.S. as King of Kong Island. Despite the American title, the film featured normal-sized gorillas and takes place in Africa.
  • The 1981 Mexican film Las Muñecas Del King Kong (The Dolls of King Kong) which featured exotic jungle girls. The "King Kong" in the film was simply a giant ape statue on top of a building.

Parodies and cameos[edit]

  • In Mad Monster Party?, the giant gorilla "It" (with the vocal effects provided by Allen Swift) is a larger knock-off of King Kong and is most likely named "It" due to copyright reasons. Baron Boris von Frankenstein did not send an invite to "It", since "It" can be a bore and had crushed the Isle of Evil's wild boars the last time "It" was invited, as he explains to his assistant Francesca. Boris has his zombies patrol the island just in case "It" shows up uninvited. When "It" does show up, it goes on a rampage and snatches up the other monsters and Francesca (where "It" develops a crush on her) and climbs the Isle of Evil's tallest mountain. Boris convinces "It" to take him instead of Francesca, which "It" complies to. After Francesca is off the island with Boris' nephew Felix Flanken, Boris sacrifices his life where he drops the vial containing the secret of destruction which destroys himself, "It", the Isle of Evil, and everyone else that was on it at the time.
  • Kong appeared in a Netflix original TV series called Tarzan and Jane. He first appeared at the end of season 2 episode 4, "The Ruins".
  • In Mad Mad Mad Monsters (a "prequel of sorts" to Mad Monster Party?), there was a knock-off of King Kong called Modzoola.
  • The corpse of the 1976 King Kong makes an unauthorized appearance in the film Bye Bye Monkey.
  • King Kong appears in the 1996 Imax film Special Effects: Anything Can Happen. In this film, the classic climax of the 1933 film is recreated with modern (at the time) digital special effects.
  • King of the Lost World (a direct-to-video movie produced by The Asylum) taking elements from both King Kong and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World. The film was released on December 13, 2005, just one day before the theatrical release of Peter Jackson's version of King Kong. The Gigantopithecus is a giant ape that appeared in the 2005 movie King of the Lost World (a loose adaptation of The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle). It is estimated to be 9.8 feet (3 m) high and has an interest in attacking intruders, as it threw a flight attendant in the beginning of the movie. It eventually got intimidated when a plane chases it with a torch.
  • Kong appears in the Where My Dogs At? episode "Buddy and Woof Do the MTV Movie Awards". He appears on the stage background at the MTV Movie Awards hosted by Jimmy Fallon (who was the back-up host after Dave Chappelle slipped on a banana peel during his intro and had to be taken to the hospital). After Jimmy Fallon makes a comparison of King Kong and Jack Black after Jessica Simpson gave birth to Jack Black's child, King Kong ended up crushing Jimmy Fallon with his fists, much to everyone's delight. When the MTV Movie Awards are over, King Kong gets out of his shackles and heads home.
  • King Kong had cameo appearances in two Warner Bros films:
    • In the 2017 film The Lego Batman Movie, King Kong (voiced by Seth Green) appears as an inmate of the Phantom Zone. He is among the Phantom Zone inmates that the Joker releases in order to take over Gotham City. During the Joker's campaign, King Kong destroys one of the towers that Batman and the others hide in. With help from Robin, Batgirl, Alfred Pennyworth, and his enemies, Batman is able to defeat King Kong and send him and his fellow Phantom Zone inmates back to the Phantom Zone.
    • In the 2018 film Ready Player One (based on the book of the same name), King Kong appears as one of the hazards of the OASIS racetrack alongside the Tyrannosaurus from the Jurassic Park films. In the film, he is placed at the end of the racetrack near the Empire State Building and it is impossible for the racers to get by him. This prompts the protagonist Wade Watts ("Parzival" in the video game) to search for a solution in James Halliday's life to a dialogue which urges him to go backwards traveling through the code of the game, in a tunnel which starts at the base of the Statue of Liberty and ends behind King Kong at Central Park where the finish line is.[6]

Box office and reception[edit]

Box office performance[edit]

Film Year Box office gross revenue Ticket sales Budget
United States and Canada Other territories[a] Worldwide Ref United States and Canada Japan
King Kong 1933 $10,000,000 $650 $10,000,650 [7] N/A N/A $672,000
Son of Kong 1933 $616,000 N/A $616,000 [8] N/A N/A $269,000
King Kong vs. Godzilla 1962 $20,000,000 $37,538,152 $57,538,152 N/A 20,000,000 12,550,000 ¥150,000,000 (Japan) $200,000 (USA)
King Kong Escapes 1967 $1,000,000 $3,700,777 $4,700,777 [9] N/A N/A N/A
King Kong 1976 $52,614,445 $38,000,000 $90,614,445 [10] N/A N/A $24,000,000 or $23,000,000
King Kong Lives 1986 $4,711,220 $2,000,000 $6,711,220 [11] N/A N/A $18,000,000
King Kong 2005 $218,080,025 $332,437,332 $550,517,357 [12] N/A N/A $207,000,000
Kong: Skull Island 2017 $168,052,812 $398,600,000 $566,652,812 [13] N/A N/A $185,000,000
Godzilla vs. Kong 2020 N/A N/A N/A [14] N/A N/A N/A
Total $475,074,502 $812,276,911 $1,287,351,413 20,000,000 12,550,000 $435,141,000

Critical reception[edit]

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
King Kong (1933 film) 98% (58 reviews)[15] 90% (12 reviews)[16]
Son of Kong 36% (11 reviews)[17] 50% (6 reviews)[18]
King Kong vs. Godzilla 47% (15 reviews)[19] 40% (4 reviews)[20]
King Kong Escapes
King Kong (1976 film) 53% (36 reviews)[21] 61% (11 reviews)[22]
King Kong Lives 0% (10 reviews)[23] 32% (9 reviews)[24]
The Mighty Kong
King Kong (2005 film) 84% (262 reviews)[25] 81% (39 reviews)[26]
Kong: Skull Island 75% (359 reviews)[27] 62% (49 reviews)[28]
Godzilla vs. Kong

Other media[edit]

Television[edit]

# Title Year Monster co-star(s) Licenses/Media
1 The King Kong Show 1966 None Toei Animation
2 Kong: The Animated Series 2000 None BKN
3 Kong: King of the Apes 2016 None Netflix

In 1966 a cartoon series titled The King Kong Show featured the giant ape befriending the Bond family, with whom he goes on various adventures, fighting monsters, robots, mad scientists and other threats. Produced by Rankin/Bass, the animation was provided in Japan by Toei Animation, making this the very first anime series to be commissioned right out of Japan by an American company. The show debuted with an hour-long pilot episode and then was followed by 24 half-hour episodes that aired on ABC. This was also the cartoon that resulted in the production of Toho's Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (originally planned as a Kong film) and King Kong Escapes.

In 2000, an animated production from BKN International titled Kong: The Animated Series was released and is set many decades after the events of the original film. "Kong" is cloned by a scientist named Dr. Lorna Jenkins who also used the DNA of her grandson Jason to bring it to life. Jason uses the Cyber-Link to combine with Kong in order to fight evil, allowing Kong to draw on Jason's knowledge of hand-to-hand combat. This show, coming a few years after the release of Centropolis' Godzilla: The Series repeated at least two of the monsters (although with vastly different backgrounds) seen in the Godzilla series. The show ran 40 episodes and aired on Fox Kids. After the series ended, two direct-to-DVD movies were produced. Kong: King of Atlantis, released in 2005 and Kong: Return to the Jungle, released in 2007. The first movie was produced to try and cash in on the 2005 King Kong remake and that same year, Toon Disney's "Jetix" would air not only this movie, but the original series as well to also take advantage of the 2005 movie's release.

An animated series by 41 Entertainment titled Kong: King of the Apes aired as a Netflix original in 2016. The first episode aired as a two-hour movie followed by 12 half-hour episodes. Avi Arad is executive producer of the series. The series synopsis reads "Set in 2050, Kong becomes a wanted fugitive after wreaking havoc at Alcatraz Island's Natural History and Marine Preserve. What most humans on the hunt for the formidable animal do not realize, though, is that Kong was framed by an evil genius who plans to terrorize the world with an army of enormous robotic dinosaurs. As the only beast strong enough to save humanity from the mechanical dinosaurs, Kong must rely on the help of three kids who know the truth about him."[29] A live action series titled King Kong of Skull Island based on Joe Devito's book of the same name, which was produced with the Merian C. Cooper estate, is being developed by Stacy Title and Jonathan Penner.[30]

Video games[edit]

# Title Year Developer Publisher Platforms
1 King Kong 1982 Tigervision Tigervision Atari 2600
2 King Kong 2: Ikari no Megaton Punch 1986 Konami Konami Nintendo Family Computer
3 King Kong 2: Yomigaeru Densetsu 1986 Konami Konami MSX2
4 King Kong 1990 Data East Data East Pinball
5 M.U.G.E.N 1999 Skyworks Interactive and Game Titan Majesco Linux, MS-DOS, Microsoft Windows
6 Kong: King of Atlantis 2005 Ubisoft Ubisoft Game Boy Advance
7 Kong: The 8th Wonder of the World 2005 Ubisoft Ubisoft Game Boy Advance
8 Peter Jackson's King Kong 2005 Ubisoft Montpellier Ubisoft Game Boy Advance, GameCube, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Nintendo DS, Xbox 360, PlayStation Portable
9 Godzilla Daikaiju Battle Royale[31][32] 2012 AWM Studio Productions AWM Studio Productions Online
10 Colossal Kaiju Combat[33][34][35][34][35][36] 2014 (delayed) Sunstone Games Sunstone Games, Sega (PS4), Nintendo (3DS and Switch) Steam, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo 3DS, Switch
11 KONG VR: Destination Skull Island[37] 2017 Warner Bros. Pictures Warner Bros. Pictures Virtual reality


Various electronic games featuring King Kong have been released through the years by numerous companies. These range from handheld LCD games, to video games, to pinball machines. Tiger Electronics released various King Kong games in the early 1980s, including a Tabletop LCD game in 1981[38], a video game for the Atari 2600 home video game system in 1982[39], a handheld game in 1982 in both a regular edition[40] a large screen edition[41] (the regular edition was later reissued by Tandy in 1984[42]), an "Orlitronic" game (for the international markets) in 1983[43], and a color "Flip-Up" game in 1984.[44]

Epoch Co. released two LCD games in 1982. One was King Kong: New York,[45] and the other was King Kong: Jungle[46] Konami released two games based on the film King Kong Lives in 1986. The first game was King Kong 2: Ikari no Megaton Punch for the Famicom, and the second was King Kong 2: Yomigaeru Densetsu,[47] for the MSX computer. In 1988, Konami featured the character in the crossover game Konami Wai Wai World. All of these games were only released in Japan. Data East released a pinball game called King Kong-The Eighth Wonder of the World[48] in 1990. In 1992, Nintendo produced an educational game called Mario is Missing that features a treasure hunt level involving King Kong in New York City. The character is represented by images of his arm grabbing the Empire State Building in the NES version and a full body statue in the SNES version. Bam! Entertainment released a Game Boy Advance game based on Kong: The Animated Series in 2002.[49] MGA Entertainment released an electronic handheld King Kong game (packaged with a small figurine) in 2003.[50] Majesco Entertainment released a Game Boy Advance game based on the straight to video animated film Kong: King of Atlantis in 2005.[51]

In 2005, Ubisoft released two video games based on the film King Kong. Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie was released on all video game platforms, while Kong: The 8th Wonder of the World was released for the Game Boy Advance. Also to tie into the film, Gameloft released King Kong: The Official Mobile Game of the Movie[52] for mobile phones, while Radio Shack released a miniature pinball game.[53] Taiyo Elec Co released a King Kong Pachinko game in 2007.[54] King Kong has been featured in various online casino games. NYX gaming developed a King Kong online video slot casino game in 2016.[55][56]

In 2017, Ainsworth Game Technology developed two licensed King Kong casino games. King Kong and Kong of Skull Island,[57][58] while in 2018, NExtGen Gaming released a game called King Kong Fury.[59] King Kong appears in the Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment game Lego Dimensions. He appears as a boss in The Lego Batman Movie pack. Besides starring in his own games, King Kong was the obvious influence behind other city-destroying gigantic apes, such as George from the Rampage series,[60] Woo from King of the Monsters (who was modeled after the Toho version of the character), and Congar from War of the Monsters, as well as giant apes worshiped as deities, like Chaos and Blizzard from Primal Rage.

Literature[edit]

Cover of the 1932 novelization of King Kong written by Delos W. Lovelace. This novelization was released just over two months before the film premiered in New York City on March 7, 1933.

Over the decades, there have been numerous books, novels, and comic books based on King Kong by various publishers.

In December 1932, as the film King Kong was finishing production, Merian C. Cooper asked his friend Delos W. Lovelace to adapt the film's screenplay into a novelization. Published by Grosset & Dunlap, the book was released later that month on December 27, 1932,[61] just over 2 months before the film premiered on March 2, 1933. This was a part of the film's advance marketing campaign. The novelization was credited as being based on the "Screenplay by James A. Creelman and Ruth Rose. Novelized from the Radio Picture". The byline written under the title was "Conceived by Edgar Wallace and Merian C. Cooper". However, despite the credit, Wallace had very little to do with the story or the character. In an interview, author-artist Joe DeVito explains:

"From what I know, Edgar Wallace, a famous writer of the time, died very early in the process. Little if anything of his ever appeared in the final story, but his name was retained for its saleability ... King Kong was Cooper's creation, a fantasy manifestation of his real life adventures. As many have mentioned before, Cooper was Carl Denham. His actual exploits rival anything Indiana Jones ever did in the movies."[62]

This conclusion about Wallace's contribution was verified in the book The Making of King Kong by Orville Goldner and George E. Turner (1975). Wallace died of pneumonia complicated by diabetes on February 10, 1932, and Cooper later said, "Actually, Edgar Wallace didn't write any of Kong, not one bloody word...I'd promised him credit and so I gave it to him" (p. 59).

Cooper issued a reprint of the novelization in 1965 that was published by Bantam Books. Some time later, the copyright expired and the publishing rights to the book fell into the public domain. Since then a myriad of publishers have reprinted the novelization numerous times.[63] In 1983, Judith Conaway wrote a juvenile adaptation of the novelization called King Kong (Step Up Adventures) that featured illustrations by Mike Berenstain and was published by Random House books, while Anthony Browne wrote and illustrated another juvenile adaptation called Anthony Browne's King Kong in 1994. Credited as "From the Story Conceived by Edgar Wallace & Merian C. Cooper", the book was published by the Turner Publishing Company. It was re-released as a paperback in the U.K in 2005 by Picture Corgi. Blackstone Audio produced an audio recording of the book in 2005 narrated by Stefan Rudnicki, while StarWarp Concepts released an Ebook version complete with 6 new illustrations from pulp-comic artist Paul Tuma in 2017.[64]

Outside of the novelization, the film was serialized in a pulp magazine. In 1933, Mystery magazine published a King Kong serial under the byline of Edgar Wallace,[65] and written by Walter F. Ripperger.[66] This serialization was published in two parts in the February and March issues of the magazine.

In the U.K, the film was serialized in two different pulps, both on October 28, 1933: in the juvenile Boys Magazine (Vol. 23, No. 608).[67] where the serialization was uncredited, and in that month's issue of Cinema Weekly where it was credited to Edgar Wallace and written by Draycott Montagu Dell (1888–1940). This short story adaptation would later appear in the Peter Haining book called Movie Monsters in 1988, published by Severn House in the U.K. The novel was serialized in the London Daily Herald by H. Kingsley Long as well. The serialization was first published in April 1933 and ran 37 installments.

In 1973, Philip Jose Farmer wrote a short story sequel to the Lovelace novelization called After King Kong Fell that was published in OMEGA: a collection of original science fiction stories.[68]

In 1977, a novelization of the 1976 remake of King Kong was published by Ace Books. This novelization was called The Dino De Laurentiis Production of King Kong and was simply the 1976 Lorenzo Semple Jr. script published in book form. The cover was done by Frank Frazetta.

To coincide with the 2005 remake of King Kong, various books were released to tie into the film. A novelization was written by Christopher Golden based on the screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Peter Jackson. Matt Costello wrote an official prequel to the film called King Kong: The Island of the Skull. These books were published by Pocket Books. Various illustrated juvenile books were published, as well, by Harper Books: Kong's Kingdom was written by Julia Simon-Kerr; Meet Kong and Ann and Journey to Skull Island were written by Jennifer Franz; Escape from Skull Island and Kong: The Eighth Wonder of the World—Junior Novel were written by Laura J. Burns; The Search for Kong was written by Catherine Hapka; and finally, a Deluxe Sound Storybook of Kong: The Eighth Wonder of the World was written by Don Curry. Weta Workshop released a collection of concept art from the film entitled The World of Kong: A Natural History of Skull Island that was published by Pocket Books. The book was written and designed to resemble and read like an actual nature guide and historical record.

In 2005, Ibooks, Inc., published an unofficial book featuring King Kong called Kong Reborn, by Russell Blackford.

Starting in 1996, artist/writer Joe DeVito began working with the Merian C. Cooper estate to write and/or illustrate various books based on the King Kong character. The first of these was an origin story labeled as an authorized sequel/prequel to the 1932 novelization of King Kong called Kong: King of Skull Island. This illustrated hardcover novel was published in 2004 by DH Press and featured a story DeVito co-wrote with Brad Strickland and John Michlig. It also included an introduction by Ray Harryhausen. A large paperback edition was then released in 2005, with extra pages at the end of the book. A CD audiobook narrated by Joey D'Auria was released by RadioArchives as well, and an interactive two-part app was released in 2011 and 2013, respectively, by Copyright 1957 LLC. In 2005, DeVito and Strickland co-wrote another book together called Merian C. Cooper's King Kong for the Merian C. Cooper estate. This book was published by St. Martin's Press. It was a full rewrite of the original 1932 novelization, which updates the language and paleontology and adds five new chapters. Some additional elements and characters tie into Kong: King of Skull Island, enabling the two separate books to form a continuous storyline. In 2013, the first of two books featuring crossovers with pulp heroes was published. To coincide with the 80th anniversary of both King Kong and Doc Savage, Altus Press published Doc Savage: Skull Island in both softcover and hardcover editions. This officially sanctioned book was written by Will Murray and based on concepts by DeVito.[69] In 2016, Altus Press published the other crossover book, this time featuring a meeting between King Kong and Tarzan. The novel, called King Kong vs. Tarzan, was once again written by Will Murray and featured artwork by DeVito.[70] In 2017, a new book featuring another origin story, written and illustrated by DeVito, was released, called King Kong of Skull Island.[71]

In March 2017, to coincide with the release of Kong: Skull Island, Titan Books released a novelization of the film written by Tim Lebbon and a hardcover book The Art and Making of Kong: Skull Island by Simon Ward.[72]

Interestingly, the concept of a man-eating giant gorilla is featured much earlier than King Kong in Henry Rider Haggard's 1915 novel The Holy Flower.

Cultural impact[edit]

King Kong, as well as the series of films featuring him, have been featured many times in popular culture outside of the films themselves, in forms ranging from straight copies to parodies and joke references, and in media from comic books to video games.The Beatles' 1968 animated film Yellow Submarine includes a scene of the characters opening a door to reveal King Kong abducting a woman from her bed. The Simpsons episode "Treehouse of Horror III" features a segment called "King Homer" which parodies the plot of the original film, with Homer as Kong and Marge in the Ann Darrow role. It ends with King Homer marrying Marge and eating her father.[citation needed]

The British comedy TV series The Goodies made an episode called "Kitten Kong", in which a giant cat called Twinkle roams the streets of London, knocking over the British Telecom Tower. The controversial World War II Dutch resistance fighter Christiaan Lindemans — eventually arrested on suspicion of having betrayed secrets to the Nazis — was nicknamed "King Kong" due to his being exceptionally tall.[73] Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention recorded an instrumental about "King Kong" in 1967 and featured it on the album Uncle Meat. Zappa went on to make many other versions of the song on albums such as Make a Jazz Noise Here, You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 3, Ahead of Their Time, and Beat the Boots.

The Kinks recorded a song called "King Kong" as the B-side to their 1969 "Plastic Man" single. In 1972, a 550 cm (18 ft) fiberglass statue of King Kong was erected in Birmingham, England. The second track of The Jimmy Castor Bunch album Supersound from 1975 is titled "King Kong".[74] Filk Music artists Ookla the Mok's "Song of Kong", which explores the reasons why King Kong and Godzilla should not be roommates, appears on their 2001 album Smell No Evil.[citation needed] Daniel Johnston wrote and recorded a song called "King Kong" on his fifth self-released music cassette, Yip/Jump Music in 1983, rereleased on CD and double LP by Homestead Records in 1988. The song is an a cappella narrative of the original movie's story line. Tom Waits recorded a cover version of the song with various sound effects on the 2004 release, The Late Great Daniel Johnston: Discovered Covered. ABBA recorded "King Kong Song" for their 1974 album Waterloo. Although later singled out by ABBA songwriters Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus as one of their weakest tracks.,[75] it was released as a single in 1977 to coincide with the 1976 film playing in theatres.

Theatre[edit]

In mid-2012, it was announced that a musical adaptation of the story (endorsed by Merian C. Cooper's estate)[76] was going to be staged in Melbourne at the Regent Theatre. The show premiered on June 15, 2013 as King Kong: The Eighth Wonder of The World, with music by Marius De Vries. The musical then premiered on Broadway in November 8 of 2018 at the Broadway Theatre as King Kong: Alive on Broadway. The creative team included book writer Jack Thorne, director-choreographer Drew McOnie, and Australian songwriter Eddie Perfect, who replace the former creatives.[77]

The huge King Kong puppet was created by Global Creature Technology.[78] The puppet stands 20 feet tall and weighs 2,400 pounds. It is operated by a large rig with 10 onstage puppeteers,[79] and features an array of microprocessors and tiny motors that power nuanced movements in the facial features.[80] According to Sonny Tilders, who designed the Fiberglas and steel puppet for Global Creatures Company, "It’s the most sophisticated marionette puppet ever made”. Tilders also stated that Kong is built in layers, and is “quite similar to genuine anatomy". Over the steel skeleton, the body shell is a mixture of hard Fiberglas, enforced inflatables, high-pressure inflatables, and bags full of styrene beans that stretch and contort like muscles. “We really wanted to create the sense that he’s a moving sculpture,” stated Tilders [81]

Theme park rides[edit]

Skull Island: Reign of Kong at Universal's Islands of Adventure.

Universal Studios has had popular King Kong attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood in Universal City, California and Universal Orlando Resort in Orlando, Florida.

The first King Kong attraction was called King Kong Encounter and was a part of the Studio Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood. Based upon the 1976 film King Kong, the tour took the guests in the world of 1976 New York City, where Kong was seen wreaking havoc on the city. It was opened on June 14, 1986 and was destroyed on June 1, 2008 in a major fire. Universal opened a replacement 3D King Kong ride called King Kong: 360 3-D that opened on July 1, 2010, based upon Peter Jackson's 2005 film King Kong.[82][83]

A second more elaborate ride was constructed at Universal Studios Florida on June 7, 1990, called Kongfrontation. The ride featured a stand-alone extended version of King Kong Encounter and pinned guests escaping on the Roosevelt Island Tramway from Kong, who was rampaging across New York City. The ride was closed down on September 8, 2002, and was replaced with Revenge of the Mummy on May 21, 2004.

On May 6, 2015, Universal Orlando announced that a new King Kong attraction titled Skull Island: Reign of Kong will open at Islands of Adventure in the summer of 2016,[84] making it the first King Kong themed ride in Orlando since Kongfrontation closed down 14 years earlier at Universal Studios Florida. It officially opened on July 13, 2016.

A Kong ride made by HUSS Park Attractions also appeared in Changzhou China Dinosaur Park and was opened in 2010. In this ride Kong will pick up your wagon, lower it down and tilt it all kinds of directions.[85]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Including Japan

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