Carl Denham: Ladies and Gentlemen... I give you... KONG! THE EIGHTH WONDER OF THE WORLD!
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.
Jack Black has claimed that he did not wear any make-up at all in the entire movie after hearing a false rumor that Clint Eastwood never wears any make-up in his movies. He also wore a hairpiece during filming rather than going through makeup to achieve the '30s hairdo' look.
The insects attacking Jack Driscoll at the canyon bottom are gigantic versions of the Weta, a species native to New Zealand and the namesake of Peter Jackson's production studio.
The role of "Jimmy" played by Jamie Bell, was created specifically for him.
Peter Jackson was paid $20 million to direct this film, the highest salary ever paid to a film director in advance of production.
On April Fools Day 2005, Peter Jackson posted an elaborate practical joke, which he posted on a web diary. He "revealed" that they were already starting production on "King Kong: Son Of Kong" and "King Kong: Into the Wolf's Lair". Both films, supposedly to be released in 2006, contained the principal characters riding Son of Kong, strapping machine guns to his back and fighting Hitler's genetically mutated creatures. The film was going to be produced under the banner of "Big Primate Productions".
The New York set was only four blocks across and one story high; the rest was added digitally.
The Times Square set was built about 20% scaled down from the original. For this and most other New York sets, only the first story was built in full scale. The rest of the scenes were added digitally. Streets were also extended using digital effects, and the number of pedestrians and cars were doubled or even tripled in large scenes, using the same process applied to the battle scenes in the Lord of the Rings films.
Posters for East of Borneo (1931) and The Mummy (1932) appear outside theaters in the New York scenes.
For the New York scene, the few hundred extras used each had three different costumes that they would wear for different exterior scenes. At one time during production, a many as 100 people were working in the costume department alone.
The "Ancient Proverb" cited by Carl at his premier served as the prologue in the original version of the film.
Considering the film's running time, it could have possibly been longer. According to the book The Making of King Kong, there was a scene written and filmed where Denham, Driscoll and the Venture crew build rafts to cross the swamp, only to be attacked by an aquatic creature (a "Piranhadon"). There was also mention of a scene where Lumpy the cook shoots a large flightless bird.
When Carl Denham and his assistant are in the car talking about which actresses can fit in a size 4, Carl says, "Fay's a size 4." His assistant says, "Yes, but she's doing a movie with RKO". The name of the actress who played Ann in the original King Kong (1933) was Fay Wray, and it was produced and released by RKO Pictures.
Ann Darrow's line in Denham's film "I've never been on a ship before" and the 'beefed up banter' between her and Bruce is lifted directly from a scene in the 1933 original.
Peter Jackson owns a number of props from the original King Kong (1933) and put some of the items from his collection into this film. These items include Skull Island spears and a brightly painted shield (seen in the cabins of the Venture) and some of the drums from the sacrifice scene (in use during the jig scene).
The digitally-rendered 1933 NY is so detailed that it contained 90,000 separate buildings.
28 copies of Darrow's petticoats were made. Some were clean, some dirty, while others were ripped.
Howard Shore had written and recorded much of the score for this film, but shortly before release, he departed from the project. Peter Jackson stated that because of "differing creative aspirations" between the two of them, they both thought it best for Shore to be replaced by James Newton Howard, who was given less than two months to write and record new score for the entire film.
After searching worldwide for the right boat to be the Venture, Peter Jackson found and purchased the Manuia, in the South Pacific island of Tonga. Several set pieces were added to the 50 year old vessel to make it resemble a 1930s freighter. Film crew were forced to abandon the boat during filming in March 2005 when it sprang a leak and began to take on water off New Zealand's Kapiti Coast. Emergency repairs were carried out and it sailed back to Wellington, where the remaining boat scenes were shot without further incident.
The scene that Anne and Bruce rehearse on the boat is a copy of a scene in the original King Kong (1933).
A poster for Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness (1927) can be seen in the background of the studio office when Denham is listening in on the meeting through the door. "Chang" was produced by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, the same team who made the original King Kong (1933).
Michael Muhney auditioned for the role of Bruce Baxter.
At the very end of the closing credits the movie is dedicated to "The original explorers of Skull Island..." followed by the names of the actors who played major roles in the 1933 original.
The "Scream Ann! Scream for your life!" scene shown in trailers across the world for the movie never made it into the final cut.
One of the gas bombs from King Kong (1933) can be seen in the shot of the cage filled with chloroform.
The score being played in the New York theatre when Kong is revealed is the same score from the original King Kong (1933). The same is true for the costumes being worn by the performers on stage-they are similar to the island inhabitants from the original King Kong.
The scene where Kong splits the jaw of the V-Rex is in the original. Also in the original is the "shaking log" scene.
The billboards that appear in Times Square (with ads for Coca-Cola, Pepsodent, and Chevrolet), are identical to those in the original 1933 version.
Shipped to cinemas in Europe under the name "Gipsy Camp". It came in two packs, reel 1, 3, 4a, 6, 8 and the next day 2, 4b, 7 and 9.
King Kong's roar is a lion's roar played backwards at half speed.
In an early draft of the screenplay, Ann Darrow was the daughter of a famed archaeologist and Jack Driscoll was his assistant. Lord Darrow was killed in Ann's introductory scene by the Indonesian military in a cover-up attempt of his discovery of remnants of the Skull Island culture.
Adrien Brody was the first and only choice for hero Jack Driscoll. While Brody was under the impression that he was competing with other actors for the role, he was quickly informed by the producers that they were only interested in him. He signed on before the script was written.
Andy Serkis had 132 sensors attached to his face so that his every facial expression could be captured and shown on King Kong's face.
Besides studying wild gorillas in Rwanda in order to be able to mimic their movements and behavior; Andy Serkis also developed a close friendship with a female gorilla called Zaire at a zoo near London.
The hand-cranked motion-picture camera carried around by Black's Carl Denham, the movie maker, is an actual antique Bell & Howell 2709 which is also the same type of camera used in the original King Kong (1933).
Weta Workshops created 8 variations of animal excrement and even researched the manure of tigers and camels.
The movie was shipped to theaters in the USA under the name "Tiny Dancer". For added security, the eighth reel was shipped separately from the rest of the print.
When Jack Driscoll goes into the hold for the first time you can see a sign that says "Sumatran Rat Monkey", the animal that causes all the undead in Peter Jackson's Braindead (1992) (the Sumatran Rat Monkey is captured on Skull Island as well).
Peter Jackson originally wanted to make this film immediately after The Frighteners (1996). When Universal saw that Godzilla (1998) and Mighty Joe Young (1998) would be released the same year, they pulled the plug on the project and Jackson moved on to The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), using the ghost effects he developed for King Kong. After the tremendous success of the trilogy, Jackson was finally able to make the film.
During production, Peter Jackson hosted a video production diary, made specifically for the fan website, kongisking.net. Diary "entries", posted every 2-3 days, were created by the same company responsible for the Lord Of The Rings DVD sets and gave an exclusive look at the production of the film, with other cast and crew members often acting as "guides". Eventually visitors to the website were invited to email in questions to potentially be answered in future videos.
The studio in Wellington, New Zealand was located very close to the local airport, so planes flying overhead often posed problems while shooting outside on the backlot.
The film is appropriately set in 1933, the same year the original film was released.
King Kong is being described as 25 feet tall on his hind legs by the makers of this version, half as tall as the filmmakers of the 1933 described their "50-foot" Kong. However, in proportion to people and objects in that film, the original Kong was actually around the same height (20-25 feet) as the new Kong.
Adrien Brody did his own stunt driving.
The tyrannosaurus has hands with three fingers (instead of the scientifically correct two) as an homage to the original King Kong (1933) in which the tyrannosaurus also had an extra digit, and is explained by the idea that the dinosaurs on Skull Island have evolved in the 65 million years since the two-fingered tyrannosaurus went extinct elsewhere in the world.
Many shots, including Ann stealing an apple are taken directly from the original King Kong (1933).
Contains approximately 800 miniature shots.
The movie has the most number of visual special effect shots - around 2400. It surpasses the record set by Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005), which has 2200 shots as well as the previous Lord of the Rings movies (FOTR has 560, TTT has 800, ROTK has 1488).
Andrew Lesnie at one point suggested shooting the film in black-and-white.
Vicky Haughton had to spend nearly six hours in makeup each morning for her role as the witch doctor, and receives less than two minutes of total screen time in the movie.
The non-profit organization producer/performer Anthony Begonia volunteers with was featured during the New York depression feeding scenes.
In Denham's stage show, the actors perform the same "native dance" that the actual natives performed in the original movie.
Peter Jackson originally wanted either Robert De Niro or George Clooney to play the role of Carl Denham.
Several of the Skull Island natives were played by Sudanese actors who did not speak English, and they were coached with the assistance of an interpreter. Conceptually, the natives of the island had piercings and scarification that were created as makeup and prosthetic appliances, although one of the extras had authentic tribal scarring on his forehead.
Between 60 and 70 vintage cars were collected locally for use in the New York scenes. These cars are popular in New Zealand, and they apparently were not hard to find.
The Morse code message alerting the Venture crew to the warrant for Denham's arrest actually says, "SHOW ME THE MONKEY".
The movie's line "It was beauty killed the beast." was voted as the #85 of "The 100 Greatest Movie Lines" by Premiere in 2007.
In the beginning of the movie you see a worker on a steel part. Due to the camera angle it is clear he is working on top of the (not yet erected) Empire State Building. Camera is directing NE over Chrysler Building and Queens Bridge. Empire State was opened in 1931.
Over 2 million feet of film were shot, equivalent to 370 hours of footage, 123 times more than the final cut.
Peter Jackson's children, Billy Jackson and Katie Jackson, each have brief cameos during the first two minutes of the film.
At the beginning of the film there is a shot of a restaurant in New York called "BG's Sandwiches." It is a nod to BG Hacker, who organized and catered the New York premiere parties for Peter Jackson's production people on all three "Lord of the Rings" films.
When the thuggish Studio Executive refuses to continue financing Denham's film, he says, "It's not the principle of the thing; it's the money!" This is a saying attributed to legendary showbiz mom Rose Hovick, mother of Gypsy Rose Lee and June Havoc (who is given a Thank You in the credits).
Alex Norton was offered a role but had to pass because the dates clashed with a TV project.
In at least one scene that takes place in a diner, Naomi Watts wears a hat that is Peter Jackson's tribute to Fay Wray's hat in the original King Kong (1933).
This was one of the last films personally green lit and approved by former Universal studio chairman Stacey Snider before her departure to DreamWorks. She originally balked at the finished version, since one of her stipulations was that the final length not exceed 160 minutes. According to Peter Jackson, it was waived when she actually saw the film (at executive screenings) and said that it exceeded her expectations.
The pages of script that Jack gave to Carl in the ship were actually part of Peter Jackson's personal copy of the original 1933 King Kong script itself. As proof, Jackson revealed it in one of the film's post-production diaries "Pick Up Wraps".
When planned to be released in 1998, Kate Winslet was the first choice for Ann Darrow.
The scene where Denham, Driscoll and the crew fall into a pit filled with giant bugs is a reference to a scene in the original King Kong (1933), where the crew fell into a pit and were devoured by giant spiders, which was cut after many members of preview audiences ran out of the theater in horror during the scene.
The two original models of Apatosaurus from the 1933 movie were used for reference in creating a creature for a similar dinosaur sequence in this movie.
This film held the record for being the most expensive ever made in the US until it was topped by Spider-Man 3 (2007).
Several factual errors from the first movie were fixed to make sense. In the original, the Apatosaurus was a man-eating monster chasing after the men, but in the new version the Apatosaurs are being chased by Venatosaurs. Another gaffe was that the T-Rex made for the original was incorrectly shaped and given three fingers. To correct this, the Vestatosaurus Rex was made, a three-fingered, bulkier T-Rex evolved from 65 million years ago.
Carl Denham: It wasn't the airplanes. It was beauty killed the beast.
Thu., Apr. 17, 2008
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