The Legend of King Kong

From Wikizilla, the kaiju encyclopedia
Jump to navigationJump to search
The Legend of King Kong
Advertisement for The Legend of King Kong
Planned 1975-1976
Intended release Fall 1976
Concept history The Legend of King Kong
King Kong (1996)King Kong (2005) - Dead Kamoebas.jpg [citation(s) needed] This article is missing references.
Please improve this article by including relevant citations.
As a reader, exercise caution when encountering unsourced statements.

The Legend of King Kong is an unmade 1976 remake of King Kong that was to be produced by Universal Pictures.


In 1975, Universal became interested in remaking the original 1933 King Kong, due to the character's recent surge in popularity. They also viewed it as a strong follow-up to the projected success of their film Jaws, which was currently in the final stages of production. Universal approached RKO Pictures, offering them $200,000 plus five percent of the film's net profits. Although there was no written contract, Universal was confident that they received verbal approval from RKO. However, they would soon learn that RKO also signed a deal with Dino De Laurentiis and Paramount Pictures to produce a remake of the film with a tentative release date of 1976. [1]

Universal proceeded to sue both Paramount and RKO for the rights to King Kong, claiming that they had a previous oral agreement with RKO to produce their own remake; however, RKO denied such a deal.[1] During the legal debate, Universal realized the copyright to the original film's novelization by Delos W. Lovelace had lapsed. This meant that while the film itself was still under RKO copyright, the plot as depicted in the novel was now in the public domain. Counting on this claim to go through, Universal announced they would start filming The Legend of King Kong on January 5, 1976, using the novel as a template and aiming to release the film in the fall. By getting the film into production so quickly, Universal hoped it would pressure Paramount and De Laurentiis to give up production on their film.[1]

Universal hired Academy Award-winning screenwriter Bo Goldman to write the screenplay for the film, and hired the relatively unknown but acclaimed Joseph Sargent to direct. Special effects artist Jim Danforth offered to produce the effects for the film using stop-motion animation like in the original film, but Universal worried that it would be far too expensive and planned to have Kong be portrayed by a man in a suit, like he was in King Kong vs. Godzilla and King Kong Escapes. They also intended to very closely follow the 1933 film, using the same characters, creatures, and general plot of the original film, even keeping it set in 1933.[1]

In November 1976, a federal judge ruled in Universal's favor, holding that "the King Kong story, as embodied in the original novel, had become part of the public domain, and that RKO had a copyright only in 'the copyrightable matter' which was contained in the 1933 movie but not in the original novel. The court found that Universal could make a movie based on King Kong as long as it did not infringe on the copyrightable scenes of the 1933 movie."[2] This was shortly followed a month later by a second federal ruling in the Cooper estate's favor against RKO, determining that "Merian Cooper's agreement with RKO had given RKO the right only to produce the 1933 movie and the 'Son of Kong' sequel." In this final judgement, referred to as the "Cooper Judgement," the court determined that "as between RKO and Cooper, Cooper possessed all rights in the name, character and story of King Kong other than the rights in the 1933 movie and the sequel 'Son of Kong.' The court also found that RKO's license with Dino De Laurentiis for the remake of King Kong, and its licenses with certain toy manufacturers, had breached RKO's original limited assignment from Merian Cooper. Therefore, RKO owed Richard Cooper the profits accrued from these breaches. The court consistently noted, however, that its determination of Richard Cooper's cross-claim did not affect any other person and did not affect its finding that the King Kong story was in the public domain."[2]

As a result of these rulings, RKO's licensing and merchandising rights were transferred to the Cooper estate. Afterwards, Merian C. Cooper's son Richard Cooper assigned all of his rights to King Kong, primarily the "right to receive certain revenues De Laurentiis would pay to RKO under De Laurentiis' license to produce a King Kong remake,"[2] to Universal for $200,000. With De Laurentiis and Paramount Pictures having already completed their King Kong film and now guaranteed a cut of the box office profits, Universal decided to postpone filming The Legend of King Kong for 18 months and ultimately the film was cancelled after seeing the mediocre box office the 1976 film received.[3]

Following the box office failure of King Kong Lives and a scrapped attempt by De Laurentiis to continue his incarnation of Kong through an animated series, in the late 1990s Universal revived the project and hired director Peter Jackson to direct a new remake, though the releases and subsequent poor receptions of Mighty Joe Young and GODZILLA in 1998 convinced them to postpone the project. Universal and Jackson finally released their remake in December 2005.



The Legend of King Kong would have differentiated itself from the original 1933 film by mostly substituting the various dinosaur inhabitants of Skull Island with both lesser known prehistoric animals and purely fictional creations. However, the film would have also featured a Triceratops, dubbed "Triclonius" in production art, and an unusually aggressive Parasaurolophus.



  • Universal hoped their quick production of The Legend of King Kong would make De Laurentiis hesitant to film King Kong, but it instead convinced him to complete casting and begin filming for the film months earlier. Makeup artist and stuntman Rick Baker, who designed and portrayed Kong in Paramount's film, later said he regretted not having enough time to design the King Kong suit due to the accelerated production on the film.

External links


This is a list of references for The Legend of King Kong. 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 1.2 1.3 Morton, Ray (2005). King Kong: The History of a Movie Icon from Fay Wray to Peter Jackson. Applause Theatre & Cinema Books,. p. 158-159. ISBN 9781557836694.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Universal City Studios, Inc. v. Nintendo Co. Retrieved December 28, 2023.


Showing 12 comments. When commenting, please remain respectful of other users, stay on topic, and avoid role-playing and excessive punctuation. Comments which violate these guidelines may be removed by administrators.

Loading comments...
Era Icon - Universal.png
Era Icon - King Kong.png