King Kong (1933). The original, classic film. Remembered for its pioneering special effects using stop-motion models and evocative story. Considered by some to be the greatest motion picture of all time.
Son of Kong (1933). A sequel released the same year, it concerns a return expedition to Skull Island that discovers Kong's albino son.
King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962). A film produced by Toho Studios in Japan. It brought the titular characters to life (the first time for both characters to be in a film in color) via the process of suitmation. However the use of suitmation for King Kong aroused bitter hatred from fans of King Kong towards the horrid look of the Kong suit and the fact that Kong had been brought to life in this fashion at all.
Promotional poster for the 2005 version of King Kong.King Kong Escapes (1967). Another Toho film in which Kong faces both a mechanical double, dubbed Mechani-Kong, and a giant theropod dinosaur known as Gorosaurus (who would appear in Toho's Destroy All Monsters the following year).
King Kong (1976) A remake by film producer Dino De Laurentiis and director John Guillermin. Jessica Lange and Jeff Bridges starred. The film was generally panned by critics at the time, but its reputation has improved with time, and it was eventually a commercial success. Even at the time of release, however, several prominent and well-respected critics such as Pauline Kael and Roger Ebert applauded the de Laurentiis version. It also won an Oscar for special effects.
King Kong Lives (1986). Starring Linda Hamilton, a sequel by the same production company as the 1976 film which involves Kong surviving his fall from the sky and requiring a coronary operation.
King Kong (2005). A Universal Pictures remake of the original by New Zealand director Peter Jackson, best known for directing the The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The most recent incarnation of Kong is also the longest, running three hours and seven minutes.
Late in 2005, the BBC and Hollywood trade papers reported that a 3D stereoscopic version of the 2005 film was being created from the animation files, and live actors digitally enhanced for 3D display. This may be just an elaborate 3D short for Universal Studios Theme Park, or a digital 3D version for general release in 2006.
A novelization of the original film was published in December 1932, as part of the film's advance marketing. The novel was credited to Edgar Wallace and Merian C. Cooper, although it was in fact written by Delos W. Lovelace. Apparently Cooper was the key creative influence. In an interview, comic book author 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 salability ... 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."
This conclusion about Wallace's contribution agrees with The Making of King Kong, by Orville Goldner and George E. Turner (1975). In a diary entry from 1932, Wallace wrote: "I am doing a super-horror story with Merian Cooper, but the truth is it is much more his story than mine ... I shall get much more credit out of the picture than I deserve if it is a success, but as I shall be blamed by the public if it's a failure, that seems fair" (p. 58). 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).
The few differences exist in the novel, as it reflects an earlier draft of the script that became the final shooting script.
The original publisher was Grosset & Dunlap. Paperback editions by Bantam (U.S.) and Corgi (U.K.) came out in the 1960s, and it has since been republished by Penguin and Random House.
In 1933, Mystery Magazine published a King Kong serial under the named of Walter F. Ripperger. This is unrelated to the 1932 novel.
The King Kong Show (1966). In this cartoon series, the famous giant ape befriends 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. This was also the cartoon that resulted in the production of Toho's Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster (originally planned as a Kong film) and King Kong Escapes.
Related films and shows
A rare photo of the lost film King Kong Appears in Edo.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, remade in 1998).
King Kong bears some similarities with an earlier effort by special effects head Willis O'Brien, The Lost World (1925), in which dinosaurs are found living on an isolated plateau. Scenes from a failed O'Brien project, Creation, were cannibalized for the 1933 Kong. Creation was also about a group of people stumbling into an enviroment where prehistoric creatures have survived extinction.
King Kong also inspired a 1998 animated feature, The Mighty Kong, which starred Jodi Benson and Dudley Moore.
Kong: The Animated Series. An unofficial animated production set after the events of the original film. "Kong" is cloned by a female scientist.
A direct-to-DVD movie based on the 2001 cartoon has been released to try and cash in on the 2005 movie, called Kong: King of Atlantis.
Other similar films include the Korean A*P*E, the Hong Kong made The Mighty Peking Man, the British Konga and Queen Kong, and the American Mighty Gorga.
A little-known Japanese clone (known as Japanese King Kong, or Wasei Kingu Kongu , featuring an all-Japanese cast and produced by the Shochiku Kinema company was also released in 1933.
King Kong Appears in Edo (1938) (Edo ni arawareta