King Kong (2005)

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King Kong films
King Kong Lives
King Kong (2005)
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King Kong
King Kong (2005 film)
Directed by Peter Jackson
Producer Jan Blenkin, Carolynne Cunningham, Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson
Written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens,
Peter Jackson
Music by James Newton Howard
Distributor Universal Pictures
Rating PG-13
Budget $207,000,000[1]
Box office $550,517,357[1]
Running time 187 minutes
(3 hours and 7 minutes; theatrical)
200 minutes
(3 hours and 20 minutes; extended)
Aspect ratio 2.35:1
Rate this film!
4.00
(47 votes)

King Kong is a 2005 American giant monster film directed by Peter Jackson and written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Jackson from the story by Merian C. Cooper and Edgar Wallace, with visual effects by Wētā Workshop. Produced by Universal Pictures and WingNut Films, it is a remake of the 1933 film of the same name. It stars Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Colin Hanks, Jamie Bell, Evan Parke, Lobo Chan, and Kyle Chandler. The film was released to theaters by Universal on December 14, 2005.

The second remake of King Kong, Peter Jackson's 2005 version returns to the 1933 setting of the original and brings back many of the original characters. Once again, film director Carl Denham leads an expedition to the uncharted Skull Island to film his latest picture. But he and his crew get more than they bargained for when the natives kidnap the leading lady Ann Darrow and sacrifice her to their giant ape god Kong. Writer Jack Driscoll heads a rescue mission into the jungle, where the crew faces all sorts of horrors from the prehistoric age. Ann, meanwhile, begins to empathize with Kong after the giant ape reveals his gentler side and protects her from the more vicious denizens of the island. When Jack rescues Ann, Denham captures Kong and brings him to New York City to display him on Broadway. After Kong escapes and captures Ann again, it leads to a recreation of the iconic climactic duel between Kong and the airplanes atop the Empire State Building. King Kong was critically acclaimed and financially successful. Jackson had considered developing a sequel titled Skull Island with Adam Wingard being offered the chance to direct, but this idea was scrapped once Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. rebooted the King Kong franchise with Kong: Skull Island, which was released in 2017 as the second entry in the MonsterVerse.

Plot[edit | edit source]

In 1933 New York City at the height of the Great Depression, after a lively performance, vaudeville actress Ann Darrow returns to work in the morning to find the theater closed. Her stage partner Manny tells her to try out for a part in a play she was eyeing, only for her to learn the role was already cast. The producer sends her to a burlesque theater out of pity. At the same time, director Carl Denham sits with another group of bored producers before pitching the idea of following a map he had received to an uncharted island to film there instead. However, they are less than thrilled at the prospect of wasting more money on him and agree to scrap the picture for stock footage. Unwilling to see his art go to waste, Denham grabs his assistant Preston and makes preparations to leave immediately for Skull Island. Preston informs them that their lead actress has pulled out of the film, and Denham leaves to find a new girl. While examining posters outside a burlesque theater, he spies Ann reflected in the glass door and goes after her when she turns away. Ann then tries to steal an apple only to be caught and have Denham buy her out of it before taking her to dinner to propose that she join him. She is interested but declines before learning that Jack Driscoll is writing the screenplay and accompanies Denham to the docks where the Venture is waiting. There, Preston informs him that police are coming to arrest them. Denham then bribes Captain Englehorn to start getting the ship ready to cast off. The director then goes to see Driscoll, who handed in an incomplete script. Denham stalls to get him to stay on board as the ship pulls out of the harbor right as the police arrive.

As the ship makes its way out, Driscoll settles in and gets to know Ann throughout filming. However, when the crew learns that they aren't heading for Singapore as Denham led them to believe, Benjamin Hayes, Lumpy, and Jimmy warn him not to try to find Skull Island based on accounts from a mad castaway from seven years before. That night, Jack shows Ann a stage comedy he had started writing, and the two share a passionate kiss before Englehorn receives a telegraph and begins to turn the ship around. Denham barges in to try to stop them, but Englehorn refuses and prepares to divert to Rangoon as the telegraph had ordered to turn Denham over to the authorities. However, with their navigational equipment malfunctioning, the entire crew begins to see that they are entering a thick fog. The ship quickly gets scuttled on a hidden carving, and Denham spots the giant wall, knowing he has reached his destination. The following day, Denham takes his crew to the coast, where they discover an abandoned city home to a civilization living in ruins. However, things quickly turn hostile upon meeting the natives, and they lose two men before Englehorn and the sailors arrive with guns to save them.

Englehorn then orders the crew to lighten the ship and throw everything overboard, and Jack wakes up after being clubbed in the head on the island. He discovers the necklace of the man who had struck him and goes to locate Ann, only to find dead sailors and a ransacked cabin. He quickly informs Englehorn that the natives took her, and the captain sends the crew ashore to rescue her.

The natives forcibly drag Ann to a sacrificial chamber on the island. By the time the crew arrives, the natives have already lowered Ann over the other side of the wall, where their chants and drums attract the beast god Kong, who grabs her and takes her into the jungle as the sailors arrive. They enter the wilderness, and after hearing Ann scream, they arrive at a boneyard, where they find a path of destruction left from the ape's journey and begin to follow the trail. After trekking through the swampy jungle, the group takes a five-minute rest in a narrow valley, where a pack of Venatosaurus spook a herd of grazing Brontosaurus, who begin to stampede toward the rescue party. Most of the party manages to escape being trampled or eaten and climb a steep ledge before continuing the journey. Elsewhere, Ann attempts to escape Kong while he stops for rest, but he quickly finds her and is enraged until she begins to perform her vaudeville routine to his apparent amusement. However, when she refuses to continue, Kong becomes confused and angry before leaving her.

The remaining sailors come to a log bridging a deep crevice, and Hayes goes across before ordering them all back to the other side before Kong emerges from the tunnel at the other side and kills him. He then shakes the sailors off the log and into the pit below as Ann hears the gunshots and runs toward them only to come face to face with a Foetodon that is quickly eaten by a Vastatosaurus rex. The saurian chases Ann upon seeing her, and just when she thinks she has escaped, Ann encounters its mother. She screams, and Kong comes to rescue her. He wrestles with the two beasts, only for a third to enter the fray. He smashes the youngest’s head with a rock before wrestling the parents over a cliff, where they become entangled in vines. He manages to kill one, but the last one falls to the valley floor with Ann. Then, after a tense standoff with Ann in the middle, Kong battles the reptile, emerging victorious before taking Ann to his lair.

Jack awakes at the bottom of the pit and barely has time to check for other survivors before the monstrous bugs begin to move. Most of the sailors die, including Lumpy, who is eaten by Carnictis trying to defend Choy's body. However, when they find themselves cornered by encroaching Arachno-claws, Englehorn and Baxter return and rescue them. Jack alone ventures on while Denham convinces Englehorn to try and capture Kong. He arrives at the beast’s lair under cover of night and finds Ann asleep in Kong's hand. As he tries to rescue her, the god awakes and furiously tries to smash Jack but is distracted by a horde of Terapusmordax long enough for the two to escape.

When they arrive at the gate, they discover the drawbridge is up, and cannot cross. With Kong quickly catching up to them, Preston lowers the bridge against Denham’s orders, and the two escape to safety, with Kong pounding on the massive gates behind them. Englehorn commands the attack to commence when the ape breaks through. The sailors drag him down with grappling hooks and break a bottle of chloroform gas under his face. Ann protests the attack, and Englehorn tells Jack to take her away, but when Kong sees her getting pulled away, he breaks free of the netting and gives chase.

He reaches the rocky coast as the crew starts to row away. He smashes one of them when Jimmy shoots at him, causing Englehorn to shoot his leg with a harpoon, allowing Carl to break a chloroform bottle on his face before vowing to bring him to Broadway as “Kong: The Eighth Wonder of the World.”

After returning to New York, Jack and Ann lose contact, and Denham puts Kong up on Broadway. Jack goes to find her at the Alhambra theater where Kong is playing but finds another actress playing her role. However, an overconfident Denham allowing flash photography to further distress Kong after discovering the fake Darrow causes him to break free of his bonds. On seeing Driscoll in the crowd, Kong immediately begins to chase him down. He finally smashes the cab and roars in triumph before Ann walks up to him, and the two enjoy a moment of peace in Central Park before the military forces him out. He leaps over the rooftops before finding the Empire State Building and beginning to climb up. At the base of the mooring mast, the two admire the rising sun before six biplanes arrive, and Kong climbs to the very top, where he is shot at and swipes at the planes while Ann tries to climb up to get to him. Kong saves her life again by catching her when a ladder pulls away from the building. He sets her inside the observation deck, and she climbs up to him. The two share a short moment before Kong takes a row of bullets in the back. He touches her face one final time before succumbing to his wounds and falling from the top of the building. Jack soon arrives to console Ann. Down on the street, photographers swarm around Kong’s body, with one proclaiming that the airplanes had killed him. Denham then breaks through the crowd to declare that “beauty killed the beast.”

Extended Cut[edit | edit source]

A short way into the jungle, the rescue party becomes spooked and fires wildly into the darkness, only to cease at Hayes' order. The mate then lights a flare, and a Ferrucutus comes charging out of the brush. Wounded and wild, the beast flails about in an attempt to defend itself until Hayes can kill it with a volley of shots to its head.

After escaping the Brontosaurus stampede, Bruce Baxter and a few sailors return to the village, but those who remain tie logs together into makeshift rafts, which they paddle across a swamp. Midway across, they are attacked by several Scorpio-pedes, but they all quickly retreat. The crew sits in silence briefly before their rafts get rocked by a Piranhadon from under the water’s surface; it destroys the first raft, sending sailors spilling into the swamp. They try to escape, and Carl shoots at the creature as it swims beneath them, breaking the raft. Many sailors make it to shore, but the Piranhadon eats the slowest sailor before returning to the depths.

As the crew continues through the jungle after the Piranhadon attack, Jack pauses to listen to movement in the wilderness. Lumpy, however, becomes frightened and shoots toward the sound. Fearing he shot Ann, Jack rushes through the brush to find a fallen Brutornis. Then Lumpy puts the creature out of its misery before they continue onward.

Just before climbing out of the pit, Jimmy went to where Hayes was lying dead. He picked up Hayes' fallen cap and brushed it off before putting it on and moving to climb out of the chasm.

While luring Kong out of the city in a taxi, Jack cuts down an alley, which Kong chases him through.

Staff[edit | edit source]

Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.

  • Directed by   Peter Jackson
  • Written by   Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson
  • Based on a story by   Merian C. Cooper, Edgar Wallace
  • Produced by   Jan Blenkin, Carolynne Cunningham, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh
  • Music by   James Newton Howard
  • Cinematography by   Andrew Lesnie
  • Edited by   Jamie Selkirk
  • Production design by   Grant Major
  • Sound design   David Farmer, Ethan Van der Ryn

Cast[edit | edit source]

Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.


Appearances[edit | edit source]

Monsters[edit | edit source]

Weapons, vehicles, and races[edit | edit source]


Release[edit | edit source]

The marketing campaign for King Kong started in full swing on June 27, 2005, when the teaser trailer made its debut. It first came online on the official Volkswagen website at 8:45 p.m. EST, then at 8:55 p.m. EST across media outlets owned by NBC Universal (the parent of Universal Studios), including NBC, Bravo!, CNBC and MSNBC. That trailer appeared in theatres attached to War of the Worlds, which opened on June 29.

Jackson also regularly published a series of 'Production Diaries,' which chronicled the making of the film. The diaries started shortly after the DVD release of The Return of the King to give Jackson's The Lord of the Rings fans a glimpse of his next project. These diaries were edited into broadband-friendly installments of three or four minutes each. They consist of features usually seen in a making-of documentary: a tour of the set, a roving camera introducing critical players behind the scene, a peek inside the sound booth during last-minute dubbing, or Andy Serkis doing his ape movements in a motion capture studio. The production diaries were released on DVD on December 13, 2005, one day before the U.S. release of the film. It's one of the first occasions in which material that would typically be considered supplementary to the DVD release of a movie was not only released separately but done so in a prestige format. The Production Diaries came packaged in a box with a set of prints and a replica 1930s-era clipboard. It is also the first time such material got published before the film's release.

Merchandising[edit | edit source]

Many spin-offs from the remake's franchise include books, novels, comics, and video games. A novelization of the movie and a prequel novel titled King Kong: The Island of the Skull were written. A multi-platform video game titled Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie was released, which featured an alternate ending in which Kong would survive. There was a hardback book titled The World of Kong: A Natural History of Skull Island, featuring artwork from Weta Workshop to describe the fictional bestiary in the film.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Main article: King Kong (2005 film)/Gallery.

Proposed sequel[edit | edit source]

In 2013, Peter Jackson approached Adam Wingard with an offer to direct a King Kong sequel called Skull Island, written by Simon Barrett and produced by Mary Parent.[2] According to Wingard, the film wasn't made because it "was set up at Universal, and the King Kong rights somehow ended up at Warner Bros." He would ultimately direct Godzilla vs. Kong in 2021, with Parent as one of the producers.

Video releases[edit | edit source]

Universal DVD (2006)

  • Region: Various
  • Discs: 1 or 2
  • Audio: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Special features: Post Production Featurettes (150 minutes), Skull Island: A Natural History documentary (15 minutes), Kong's New York (28 minutes), behind the scenes footage of the Volkswagen tie-in ad (3 minutes)
  • Notes: The single-disc version only has the behind-the-scenes Volkswagen footage as a special feature.

Universal DVD (2006) [200-Minute Extended Cut]

  • Region: Various
  • Discs: 3
  • Audio: English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1), French (DTS 5.1)
  • Special features: Audio commentary by Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens, 16 deleted/extended scenes (40 minutes), blooper reel, Production Diary #59 (8 minutes), A Night In Vaudeville featurette (on the casting and filming of the vaudeville scenes), King Kong Homage featurette (a guide to references in the film), Pre-Visualization Animatics featurette, "The Present" short film (made for Peter Jackson's birthday and starring most of the film's main cast), trailers, Weta Collectables featurette, scripts for the 1996 and 2005 versions of the film (for PC viewing), Recreating the Eighth Wonder (3-hour documentary on the making of the film), Conceptual Design Video Galleries (41 minutes)

Universal Blu-ray (2009)

  • Region: Various
  • Discs: 1
  • Audio: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Special features: Audio commentary by Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens, picture-in-picture cast and crew interviews, concept art galleries
  • Notes: Includes the theatrical and extended cuts. All special features can only be accessed while playing the extended cut. Some versions were packaged with a DVD and digital copy of the film.

Universal Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD (2017) [Ultimate Edition]

  • Region: A/1
  • Discs: 3
  • Audio: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1), French (DTS 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1)
  • Special features: 2006 Introductions by Peter Jackson, Recreating the Eighth Wonder: The Making of King Kong eight-part feature, Production Diaries, Post Production Diaries, deleted scenes, gag reel, The Making of a Shot: The T-Rex Fight featurette, Skull Island: A Natural History mockumentary, Kong's New York 1938 featurette, A Night In Vaudeville featurette, King Kong Homage featurette, Pre-Visualization Animatics, Conceptual Design Video Galleries, "The Present" featurette, WETA Collectibles featurette, and trailer. It also includes the Special Features from the 2009 release.[3]
  • Notes: Includes the theatrical and extended cuts.

Videos[edit | edit source]

Trailers[edit | edit source]

King Kong Trailer #1
King Kong Trailer #2
King Kong TV Spot - "Warrior"
King Kong TV Spot - "Epic"
King Kong TV Spot - "Tremble"
King Kong TV Spot - "Rolling Stone"
King Kong TV Spot - "Alone"
King Kong TV Spot - "King"
King Kong TV Spot - "Unknown" (30 seconds)
King Kong TV Spot - "Unknown" (60 seconds)

Clips[edit | edit source]

"Human Sacrifice" clip
"Dinosaur Stampede" clip
"Kong Battles the V-Rexes" clip
"Kong Rescues Ann" clip
"Giant Bugs Attack" clip
"Kong's Rampage" clip
"Ice Skating in Central Park" clip
"Climbing the Empire State Building" clip
"Kong Battles the Airplanes" clip
"The Fall of Kong" clip

Miscellaneous[edit | edit source]

Blooper reel
Deleted scenes
Bloopers and outtakes

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Director Peter Jackson originally wanted actress Fay Wray, who played Ann Darrow in the original King Kong, to make a cameo at the end of the film and deliver the iconic line "It was beauty killed the beast." However, Wray passed away before filming, and Carl Denham delivered the line instead, as in the original film. According to Victoria Riskin, Wray's daughter, her mother had already previously declined to appear as she wanted to keep the original film and the 2005 remake separate.[4]
  • The scene where Denham and Preston discuss possible replacements for the actress who dropped out of their film references both Fay Wray and King Kong's original creator Merian C. Cooper:
Preston: “You'll never get [Mae West] into a size four. You gotta get a girl that'll fit into Maureen's costumes.
Denham: “Fay's a size four.
Preston: “Yes, she is, but she's doing a picture with RKO.
Denham: “(darkly) Cooper, huh? I might have known.
― Preston and Denham referencing Fay Wray and Merian C. Cooper
Since the film King Kong would not exist in this universe, Preston could be talking about The Most Dangerous Game, a 1932 film produced by Cooper and starring Wray. To add more layers to the references, King Kong reused sets from The Most Dangerous Game; it is widely accepted that Cooper himself inspired Denham's original character and Max Steiner's three-note Kong motif from the original film plays on the soundtrack.
  • A deleted scene in which Denham says, "We have three hours to find a new leading lady, or we're finished," appears in the official tie-in video game.
  • A cage in the Venture's cargo hold is labeled "Sumatran Rat Monkey, beware the bite." This references a creature from Peter Jackson's 1992 film Dead Alive which hails from Skull Island and causes a zombie outbreak through its bite.
  • At the time of its release, King Kong set a record for the number of visual effects shots, with around 2,400.
  • Pocket Star Books released a prequel novel by Matt Costello, King Kong: The Island of the Skull, three months before the film. Christopher Golden wrote the novelization of the film itself.
  • Both director Peter Jackson and veteran special effects technician Rick Baker cameo as a gunner and pilot respectively of one of the fighter planes that attacks Kong at the end of the film. Their plane, in particular, is the one that kills the great ape. Jackson said the reason Baker wanted to be in the film was that, given his experience portraying Kong in the 1976 film, Baker thought it would be appropriate for him to be the pilot who shoots Kong down. Director Frank Darabont, who would later serve as a script doctor for Legendary Pictures' Godzilla, also cameos as another plane gunner.[5][6] Jackson's role echoes directors Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack having played a fighter pilot and gunner, respectively, during the climax of the original 1933 film.
  • The dialogue in Denham's movie, as acted out by Ann and Bruce aboard the Venture, is taken verbatim from a conversation between Ann and Jack in the original King Kong.
  • During Kong's Broadway debut, the costumes worn by the actors portraying the Skull Islanders are identical to those worn by the actual Skull Islanders in the original King Kong. In addition, the music that plays during this scene was from Max Steiner's score for the original film.
  • In 2010, one of the dinosaur miniatures created for the film was auctioned off at the Shanghai International Film Prototype Exhibition charity auction. Famous film Hong Kong film actor Jackie Chan won the bid for the dinosaur, with his bid being reportedly ¥500,000 ($100,000).[7]
  • One of the Venture sailors emits a Wilhelm scream when a Brontosaurus knocks him off a cliff. King Kong is one of many Peter Jackson films to feature this famous sound effect.
  • The Arachno-claw and the Foetodon would later reappear in the fourth entry of Legendary's MonsterVerse, Godzilla vs. Kong, as denizens of the Hollow Earth.
  • Universal's King Kong generated a great deal of enthusiasm around the character throughout 2005 and into the next year, influencing the release of other media featuring Kong by other companies, as well as imitators attempting to take advantage of the hype.
    • Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures released the original King Kong and the 1976 remake, respectively, to DVD.
    • Several companies republished the 1932 novelization of the original film, which by this point was in the public domain. Author Russell Blackford utilized the novelization's public domain status to write an original sequel novel titled Kong Reborn. Joe DeVito and Brad Strickland collaborated on Merian C. Cooper's King Kong, a complete illustrated rewrite of the novelization endorsed by the estate of Merian C. Cooper, which was published in 2005. A follow-up illustrated novel serving as both a prequel and sequel to the rewrite, Kong: King of Skull Island, was published the same year.
    • BKN International, producers of Kong: The Animated Series, produced a direct-to-DVD revival film for the series titled Kong: King of Atlantis, which reached stores only a month before the release of the Jackson film. BKN produced a follow-up film, Kong: Return to the Jungle, the following year in order to coincide with the release of the Jackson film's extended cut.
    • The Asylum, an American studio specializing in knock-offs of blockbuster films, produced King of the Lost World to capitalize on King Kong. Ostensibly based on Arthur Conan Doyle's novel The Lost World, it was released on DVD on December 15, 2005, the day after King Kong opened in American theaters.
    • The poster for Scary Movie 4, released in 2006, featured a depiction of Kong from the Universal film with a cigar in his mouth, though he does not appear in the film itself.

External links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

This is a list of references for King Kong (2005 film). These citations are used to identify the reliable sources on which this article is based. These references appear inside articles in the form of superscript numbers, which look like this: [1]

  1. 1.0 1.1 King Kong (2005). Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on 18 August 2019.
  2. Pearson, Ben (25 March 2021). ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ Director Adam Wingard Was Once Hand-Picked By Peter Jackson to Make a Sequel to 2005’s ‘King Kong’. /Film.
  3. King Kong Blu-ray (Ultimate Edition).
  4. Keck, William (18 December 2005). Keeping the big ape film in the family. USATODAY.com. Retrieved on 18 August 2019.
  5. Wloszczyna, Susan (15 December 2005). 'King Kong' abounds with fun facts for fanboys. USATODAY.com. Retrieved on 18 August 2019.
  6. Fordham, Joe. (January 2006) Return of the King. Cinefex, 104, p. 123
  7. Barclay, Keith (11 August 2010). Hong Kong Festival 2010: opens tomorrow, selling well. SCREENZ.

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