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King Kong (franchise)

Horror film franchise

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King Kong
Official franchise logo
Studios
No. of films12
Years active1933–present
Main characterKing Kong
First filmKing Kong (1933)
Latest filmGodzilla vs Kong (2021)
Genre(s)Monster
Kaiju
Tokusatsu
Science fiction
Fantasy
Horror
CountryUnited States
Japan

King Kong is an American media franchise featuring King Kong, a character initially created by Merian C. Cooper at RKO Radio Pictures and now owned by Universal Pictures with more recent films being licensed to Legendary Pictures for production with Warner Bros. handling distribution. Films featuring Kong over the years are currently owned by various studios, including Toho, Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, and Warner Bros. The film franchise consists of twelve monster films, including seven Hollywood films, two Japanese kaiju films 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 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 2021 will once again pit the characters against one another.

King Kong (franchise) Intro articles: 32

History

Every film incarnation of King Kong between 1933 and 2017

RKO period (1933)

Theatrical release poster for King Kong (1933)

In 1933, RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. 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. Both films were directed and produced by Ernest B. Schoedsack, although the first was co-directed and co-produced by Merian C. Cooper, and starred Robert Armstrong as Carl Denham, sided in the first film by the famous portrayals of Fay Wray as Ann Darrow and Bruce Cabot as Jack Driscoll, although neither of the two returned for the second one.

Toho period (1962–1967)

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, in which a larger version of Kong was pitted against Godzilla (both for their third film) 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. The latter film was inspired by the Japanese-American animated TV series The King Kong Show.

De Laurentiis period (1976–1986)

In 1976, Italian filmmaker 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)

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 television films (2005–2006)

Between 2005 and 2006, BKN International 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)

In 2005, Universal Pictures released yet another remake of the 1933 film 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.

The film, which was directed by Peter Jackson (then of The Lord of the Rings fame), is known for its high fidelity to the original (when compared to De Laurentiis's version) and the many visual, dialogue, and musical references to it, although some changes and additions are present, including Driscoll being a playwright and screenwriter rather than a mariner, and his sailor role being distributed to various other characters; Denham being chased by the Police; and also the crew of the Venture having their role fused with the unseen Norwegian ship's one.

Although it is not a full feature film, during this period Jackson also directed a short scene, realized in the style of the original film, replacing the long-lost "spider pit" scene, which is greatly discussed among fans. The scene is intercut with shots from the original film, and was released on the DVD of the 1933 film.

Legendary Pictures' MonsterVerse period (2017–present)

In 2017, Legendary Pictures released a reboot of the franchise with Kong: Skull Island, the second film in Legendary's "MonsterVerse" (a shared universe in which various kaiju films take place) which began with Gareth Edwards' 2014 film Godzilla (also being a reboot of its own series) 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, set to be released on March 26, 2021[1] and once again pitting the two monsters against each other.

King Kong (franchise) History articles: 22

Films

From 1933 through 2021, 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[2] 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 March 24, 2021 (2021-03-24) Adam Wingard Terry Rossio, Michael Dougherty, and Zach Shields Eric Pearson and Max Borenstein

King Kong (1933)

Son of Kong (1933)

King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)

King Kong Escapes (1967)

King Kong (1976)

King Kong Lives (1986)

The Mighty Kong (1998)

Kong: King of Atlantis (2005)

King Kong (2005)

Kong: Return to the Jungle (2006)

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)

King Kong (franchise) Films articles: 31

Television

Series Season Episodes First released Last released Showrunner(s) Network(s)
The King Kong Show TBA TBA TBA TBA TBA TBA
Kong: The Animated Series TBA TBA TBA TBA TBA TBA
Kong: King of the Apes TBA TBA TBA TBA TBA TBA
Skull Island TBA TBA TBA TBA TBA TBA

The King Kong Show (1966–1969)

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.

Kong: The Animated Series (2001)

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.

Kong: King of the Apes (2016–2018)

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."[3] Kong appears in Tarzan and Jane season 2 episode "The Return of the King". 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.[4]

Skull Island (TBA)

In late January 2021, Netflix, Legendary Entertainment and Warner Bros. International Television announced that an anime-style series adaptation based on the franchise is in the works from Powerhouse Animation Studios.[5]

King Kong (franchise) Television articles: 18

Reception

Box office performance

Film Year Box office gross revenue (est.) Ticket sales (est.) Budget
United States and Canada Other territories Worldwide Ref United States and Canada[6] Japan[7]
King Kong 1933 $10,000,000 $1,777,000[8] $11,777,000 [9] 7,800,000[10] N/A $672,000
Son of Kong 1933 $616,000 N/A $616,000 [11] 1,760,000 N/A $269,000
King Kong vs. Godzilla 1962 $2,700,000[12] $7,667,650 $10,367,650 [a] 3,200,000 12,600,000[13] $620,000
King Kong Escapes 1967 $3,000,000 Un­known $3,000,000 [b] 2,300,000 Un­known Un­known
King Kong 1976 $52,614,445 $38,000,000 $90,614,445 [14] 24,701,600[15] N/A $23,000,000–24,000,000
King Kong Lives 1986 $4,711,220[16] $44,200,000 $48,911,220 [c] 1,231,200[17] N/A $18,000,000
King Kong 2005 $218,080,025 $344,283,424 $562,363,449 [18] 33,885,140[19] 1,900,000[20] $207,000,000
Kong: Skull Island 2017 $168,052,812 $398,600,000 $566,652,812 [21] 18,970,200[22] 1,680,000[23] $185,000,000
Total $459,774,502 $834,528,074 $1,294,302,576 93,848,140 16,180,000 $435,561,000

Critical and public response

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
King Kong (1933) 98% (58 reviews)[24] 90% (12 reviews)[25]
Son of Kong 36% (11 reviews)[26] 50% (6 reviews)[27]
King Kong vs. Godzilla 47% (15 reviews)[28] 40% (4 reviews)[29]
King Kong Escapes N/A N/A
King Kong (1976) 53% (36 reviews)[30] 61% (11 reviews)[31]
King Kong Lives 0% (10 reviews)[32] 32% (9 reviews)[33]
The Mighty Kong N/A N/A
King Kong (2005) 84% (262 reviews)[34] 81% (39 reviews)[35]
Kong: Skull Island 75% (359 reviews)[36] 62% (49 reviews)[37]

Cultural impact

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.

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.[38] 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".[39] 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. 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.,[40] it was released as a single in 1977 to coincide with the 1976 film playing in theatres.

King Kong (franchise) Reception articles: 39

Other media

Video games

# 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[41][42] 2012 AWM Studio Productions AWM Studio Productions Online
10 Colossal Kaiju Combat[43][44][45][46] 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[47] 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,[48] a video game for the Atari 2600 home video game system in 1982,[49] a handheld game in 1982 in both a regular edition[50] a large screen edition[51] (the regular edition was later reissued by Tandy in 1984[52]), an "Orlitronic" game (for the international markets) in 1983,[53] and a color "Flip-Up" game in 1984.[54]

Epoch Co. released two LCD games in 1982. One was King Kong: New York,[55] and the other was King Kong: Jungle[56] 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,[57] 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[58] 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.[59] MGA Entertainment released an electronic handheld King Kong game (packaged with a small figurine) in 2003.[60] Majesco Entertainment released a Game Boy Advance game based on the straight to video animated film Kong: King of Atlantis in 2005.[61]

In 2005, Ubisoft released two video games based on the 2005 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[62] for mobile phones, while Radio Shack released a miniature pinball game.[63] Taiyo Elec Co released a King Kong Pachinko game in 2007.[64] King Kong has been featured in various online casino games. NYX gaming developed a King Kong online video slot casino game in 2016.[65][66]

In 2017, Ainsworth Game Technology developed two licensed King Kong casino games. King Kong and Kong of Skull Island,[67][68] while in 2018, NExtGen Gaming released a game called King Kong Fury.[69] 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,[70] 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.

In 2021, Raw Thrills released a cinematic virtual reality motion game called King Kong of Skull Island.[71]

Literature

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,[72] 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."[73]

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.[74] 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.[75]

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,[76] and written by Walter F. Ripperger.[77] 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).[78] 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.[79]

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.[80] 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.[81] In 2017, a new book featuring another origin story, written and illustrated by DeVito, was released, called King Kong of Skull Island.[82] Expanded versions of the book titled King Kong Skull Island: Exodus and King Kong Skull Island: The Wall were released by Markosia in 2020.[83]

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.[84]

In 2021, to coincide with the release of Godzilla vs Kong, various tie-in books will be released. On March 30, Legendary Comics will release a graphic prequel novel called Kingdom Kong written by Marie Anello,[85] as well as a children's picture book called Kong and Me written by Kiki Thorpe and illustrated by Nidhi Chanani.[86] On April 6, Titan Books will release Godzilla vs. Kong: The Official Movie Novelization written by Greg Keyes.[87] Insight Editions will release a children's board book called Godzilla vs. Kong: Sometimes Friends Fight (But They Always Make Up) written by Carol Herring,[88] and on May 21, will also release Godzilla vs. Kong: One Will Fall, The Art of the Ultimate Battle Royale written by Daniel Wallace.[89]

Theme park rides

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.[90][91]

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,[92] 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.[93]

Theatre

In mid-2012, it was announced that a musical adaptation of the story (endorsed by Merian C. Cooper's estate)[94] 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 on November 8, 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.[95]

The huge King Kong puppet was created by Global Creature Technology.[96] The puppet stands 20 feet tall and weighs 2,400 pounds. It is operated by a large rig with 10 onstage puppeteers,[97] and features an array of microprocessors and tiny motors that power nuanced movements in the facial features.[98] 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 [99]

Other appearances

King Kong had two cameos in Warner Bros films.

Other references

  • King Kong, in name only, was referenced by Ian Malcolm as a sarcastic remark toward the gates of Jurassic Park in the titular 1993 film.
  • A frame of Kong in the 1933 film can be seen for a split second during the 2008 monster film Cloverfield.[102]
  • Both Kong and Skull Island were referenced and made multiple appearances in the 2019 film Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

King Kong (franchise) Other media articles: 97