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King Kong (2005 film)

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Peter Jackson
Peter Jackson, Jan Blenkin, Carolynne Cunningham, Fran Walsh
Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson
Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Colin Hanks, Jamie Bell, Evan Parke, Andy Serkis
Music by
James Newton Howard
Jamie Selkirk
Universal Pictures
Release Date
December 5, 2005 (New York City)

December 13, 2005 (New Zealand)

December 14, 2005 (United States)
Running Time
187 minutes 200 minutes (Deluxe Extended Cut)
New Zealand, Germany, United States

King Kong is a 2005 New Zealand-German-American epic horror action-adventure fantasy monster film which is a remake of the 1933 and 1976 films of the same name. It is about huge gorilla that escaped from the zoo in Copenhagen.

The film was released on December 14, 2005, and made an opening of $50.1 million. While the film performed lower than expectations, King Kong made domestic and worldwide grosses that eventually added up to $550 million, becoming the fourth-highest grossing movie in Universal Studios history. Strong DVD sales also added over $100 million to the grosses. It also received positive reviews, with some considering it one of the all-around best movies of 2005, though it has been criticized for its length at three hours and eight minutes (while a three-disc extended DVD edition actually increases this to over three hours and twenty minutes). It won Academy Awards for visual effects, sound mixing, and sound editing.


The film opens in New York City, 1933, at the height of the Great Depression. Having lost her job as a vaudeville actress, beautiful Ann Darrow is hired by troubled filmmaker Carl Denham to be an actress in his new motion picture. With time running out, Ann signs on when she learns her favorite playwright Jack Driscoll is the screenwriter. On

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the SS Venture, they slowly fall in love. As for Carl, a warrant is out for his arrest and Captain Englehorn begins to have second thoughts, following the fears of his crew over the legend of Skull Island. Despite his attempt to turn around, their ship is sucked up into a fog and crashes into the rocks encircling the island. Carl and his film crew land to explore the island and discover a village built in front of an enormous wall, but they are attacked by the vicious natives. Mike, the sound technician, is speared, one of the sailors has his head crushed, and Jack is knocked out. Ann screams, and a roar beyond the wall responds. The matriarch vows to sacrifice her to "Kong", a 25 ft (7.6 m) gorilla. Englehorn and his crew break up the attack and return to the damaged ship. They finally lighten the load to steer away, until Jack discovers Ann has been kidnapped. Barefoot and wearing only a beige robe over a pink nightgown, Ann is forcibly dragged by the natives to a drawbridge atop the wall, where she is offered as a sacrifice to Kong. Kong is revealed to be a colossal 25-foot tall prehistoric gorilla. The crew comes armed, but are too late. Carl sees the gorilla that has taken her. Englehorn gives them 24 hours to find her. In the meantime, Ann discovers the remains of the previous sacrifices and stabs Kong's hand with her ceremonial necklace to no avail. Kong takes Ann into the jungles of the island.

Carl Dehnam running from a Venatosaurus

Captain Englehorn organizes a rescue party to find Ann and hunt down the beast. The rescue party is caught up in a Venatosaurus pack's hunt of Brontosaurus, and four of them are killed while Jack and the rest of the crew survive. Ann manages to entertain Kong with juggling and dancing, but he does not kill her when she refuses to continue, leaving her instead. The rest of the rescue party come across a swamp. It is here that Bruce Baxter and two others leave the group. The survivors stumble across a log where Kong attacks, shaking them off the log into a ravine. He returns to rescue Ann from three Vastatosaurus rexes (modern Tyrannosaurus) and takes her up to his mountain lair. Englehorn and the rest of the crew rescue whoever is left of the rescue party from the pit of giant insects, and as Jack decides to continue to search for Ann, Carl decides to capture Kong. Jack comes to Kong's lair, disturbing him from his slumber. As Kong fights a swarm of giant bats, Ann and Jack escape by grabbing the wing of a Terapusmordax and then jumping to a river. They arrive at the village wall with the angry Kong following them, where Ann becomes distraught by what Carl plans to do. Kong bursts through the gate and struggles to get her back, killing several sailors, but is subdued when Carl knocks him out with chloroform.

In New York around Christmas, Carl presents Kong — the Eighth Wonder of the World on Broadway. The giant ape is miserable and exhausted, missing his home. Ann has become an anonymous chorus girl and a double of her is no replacement for Kong. Kong is enraged by this, already adding to his anger of being taken away from his home. Camera flashes from photographers also finally push him over the edge. Kong explodes into his biggest rage and he breaks free from his chrome-steel chains. The audience watching screams and flees in panic as Kong destroys the theater and escapes into the city. Still fueled with rage, Kong goes on a rampage and kills 87 citizens in Times Square. In the midst of his rage, he also desperately searches for Ann. Jack, watching the rampage, drives an abandoned taxi towards Kong to use himself as a diversion to lure Kong out of the city (as Kong loathed Jack for taking Ann away from him). The diversion temporarily works, and Kong chases Jack in the taxi across town. However, before Jack can successfully lure Kong out of town, the enraged ape knocks him out by stopping the taxi and flipping it. Just then, Kong encounters Ann again, immediately calming him down. They share a quiet moment on a frozen lake in Central Park, before the army attacks. Kong climbs onto the Empire State Building, where he makes his last stand against the F8C-4 Curtiss Helldiver biplanes, downing three of them. Ultimately Kong is hit by several bursts of gunfire from the surviving planes and gazes at a distraught Ann for the last time before, being fatally shot by one plane, and viewing his love as he dies on the building. His lifeless body falls to the ground, ending Kong's magnificent life. Ann is reunited with Jack and the reporters' flood to Kong's corpse. Carl takes one last look and says, "It wasn't the airplanes. It was Beauty that killed the Beast."

Differences from the 1933 film[]

  • Jack Driscoll is a screenwriter instead of the first mate of the Venture.
  • Carl Denham is a scheming director, though he does have some standards.
  • The Skull islanders are more savage and bloodthirsty than they were in the original.
  • Captain Englehorn is German and has a bit of antagonistic relationship with Denham than from the 1933 film.
  • Kong battles three V-Rexes instead of one.
  • Denham's role in the final act is different: In the 1933 film, Denham leaves the theater as Kong breaks free and then accompanies Jack in attempt to save Ann. While in the 2005 film, he just stood and watched in shock as Kong escapes and isn't seen until near the end of the film.
  • Jack arrives at the Empire State Building to rescue Ann, but the Police stop him, however Jack pasts the point and runs inside as two soldiers chase after him, he manages to get in the elevator and makes it alone on top and reunites with Ann, while in the original, the police chief follows him and Denham inside when he tell them they can't get on the roof because the planes will be shooting.



New York Employed and Unemployed[]

  • William Johnson as Manny
  • Mark Hadlow as Harry Hankel
  • Geraldine Brophy as Maude
  • David Denis as Taps Dennis
  • David Pittu as Charles Weston
  • Pip Mushin as Zelman
  • Jim Knobeloch as Thuggish Executive
  • Ric Herbert as Sleazy Executive
  • Lee Donahue as Studio Assistant
  • Tom Hobbs as Young Assistant
  • Tiriel Mora as Fruit Vendor

SS Venture Crew[]

The rescue expedition for Ann:

The capture of Kong:

Killed by the Skull Island natives:

Note: Some of the actors played some of the sailors seen during Kong's captured

New Yorkers (Beginning)[]

  • Billy Jackson as NY Child 1
  • Katie Jackson as NY Child 2
  • Tania Rodger as Hooverville Mother
  • Samuel Taylor as Hooverville Child

Vaudeville Actors[]

  • Hilton Denis
  • Geoff Dunstan
  • Daniel Tusia
  • Paul Wilson
  • Shannon Wilson
  • Jessie Rasmussen
  • Sosina Wogayenu
  • Peter Corrigan
  • Colin Boggers
  • Susan Eastwood
  • Caron Dallas
  • Darryl John
  • Felicia O'Brien

New Yorkers (Beginning) Continued[]

  • Phil Grieve as Laughing Man
  • Belindalee Hope as Burlesque Dancer 1
  • Crushiano Dixon-McIvor as Burlesque Dancer 2
  • Jodie Taylor as Burlesque Dancer 3

Skull Islanders[]

  • Jacinta Wawatai as Feral Child
  • Vicky Haughton as Sharwoman
  • Terence Griffiths as Skull Island Pole Vaulterer

Cry Havoc Actors[]

  • Luanne Gordon as Theatre Actor 1
  • Lorraine Ashbourne as Theatre Actor 2
  • Edwin Wright as Theatre Actor 3
  • Glen Drake as Theatre Actor 4
  • Tim Gordon as Hotel Clerk

New Yorkers Part 2[]

  • Julia Walshaw as Woman at Broadway Show
  • Ross Duncan as Audience Member
  • Geoff Timblack as Pressman 1
  • Geoff Allen as Pressman 2
  • Stephen A. Buckley as Cab Driver
  • Lee McDonald as Chorus Tap Line Dancer
  • Matthew Dravitski as Trampled Theatre Goer
  • Stig Eldred as Army Commander
  • John Dybig as NY Police Officer
  • Bob Burns as NY Bystander 1
  • Kathy Burns as NY Bystander 2
  • Joe Gerter as NY Bystander 3
  • Jennifer Gerter as NY Bystander 4
  • Rick Baker as Pilot 1
  • Jim Dietz as Pilot 2
  • Randall William Cook as Pilot 3
  • Gene De Marco as Pilot 4
  • Peter Jackson as Gunner 1
  • Rick Porras as Gunner 2
  • Frank Darabont as Gunner 3
  • Hamish Bruce as Gunner 4
  • Chic Littlewood as Old Security Guard
  • Lawrence Jarden as NY Police Chief
  • Matt Wilson as Photographer 1
  • Jim McLarty as Photographer 2
  • Latham Gaines as Photographer 3

Uncredited Cast[]

New Yorkers[]

  • Aaron Beard
  • Jarl Benzon
  • Desiree Cheer
  • James Crompton
  • Lee Donoghue
  • Brian Gibb
  • Matt Gillanders
  • Jan Gopperth
  • Ran Grumolis
  • Nichola Jones
  • Camille Keenan
  • Kelly Kilgour
  • Bernie Lord
  • Carl McRae
  • Michaela Morgan
  • Todd Morgan
  • Thomas Rimmer
  • Thomas Robins
  • Sam Shore
  • Eric Vespe
  • Many unknowns

Vaudeville Actors[]

  • Julie Holmes

Crew off the Venture[]

  • Mel T. Wani

Skull Islanders[]

  • Rhys Jordan
  • Asofa Manase
  • Sam Manzanza
  • Mel T. Wani
  • Jason Te Kare
  • Many unknowns

Theatre Actors[]

  • Many unknowns

Broadway Orchestra[]

  • Howard Shore
  • Many unknowns

US Army[]

Creatures of Skull Island[]

Crew for the film[]

Directed by[]


Based on a Screenplay by[]

  • Merian C. Cooper
  • Edgar Wallace

Produced by[]

  • Jan Blenkin (producer)
  • Philippa Boyens (producer)
  • Carolynne Cunningham (producer)
  • Peter Jackson (producer)
  • Eileen Moran (co-producer)
  • Fran Walsh (producer)
  • Annette Wullems

Original Music by[]

  • James Newton Howard

Cinematography by[]

  • Andrew Lesnie

Film Editing by[]

  • Jamie Selkirk

Casting by[]

  • Victoria Burrows
  • Daniel Hubbard
  • John Hubbard
  • Liz Mullane

Production Design by[]

  • Grant Major

Art Direction by[]

  • Joe Bleakley
  • Simon Bright
  • Dan Hennah (supervising art director)

Set Decoration by[]

  • Simon Bright
  • Dan Hennah

Costume Design by[]

  • Terry Ryan

Makeup Department[]

  • Gino Acevedo (special makeup effects supervisor: Skull Islanders)
  • Hayley Atherton (assistant makeup artist)
  • Saul Barnes (special makeup effects technician: Skull Islanders)
  • Michal Bigger (makeup artist: Ms. Watts)
  • Hayden Bloomfield (makeup assistant)
  • Corinne Bossu (makeup artist)
  • Steven Boyle (special makeup effects technician: Skull Islanders)
  • Margianna Cullinan (special makeup effects technician: Skull Islanders)
  • Susan Durno (makeup assistant)
  • Rick Findlater (hair supervisor: NZ)
  • Ryk Fortuna (silicon prosthetics: Skull Island)
  • Sheree Gillespie (special makeup effects technician: Skull Islanders)
  • Susan Glass (makeup artist)
  • Trish Glover (special makeup effects technician: Skull Islanders)
  • Megan Gordevich (special makeup effects technician: Skull Islanders)
  • Louise Harris (makeup artist)
  • Nancy Hennah (hair stylist)
  • Elizabeth Hilton (special makeup effects technician: Skull Islanders)
  • Steve Hopgood (assistant hair stylist)
  • Gareth J. Jenson (special makeup effects technician: Skull Islanders) (as Gareth Jensen)
  • Frankie Karena (makeup assistant)
  • Erin Kelly (makeup assistant)
  • Peter King (hair/makeup designer) (as Peter Swords-King)
  • James Korloch (special makeup effects artist) (uncredited)
  • Edyta Koscielecki (makeup assistant)
  • Davina Lamont (special makeup effects technician: Skull Islanders)
  • Natasha Lees (makeup assistant)
  • Georgina Lockhart-Adams (hair stylist/makeup artist)
  • Samantha Lyttle (special makeup effects technician: Skull Islanders)
  • Catherine Maguire (hair stylist/makeup artist)
  • Jaime Leigh MacIntosh (additonal hair and makeup)
  • Amy McLellan (special makeup effects technician: Skull Islanders)
  • Amy McLennan (makeup assistant)
  • Angela Mooar (hair stylist/makeup artist)
  • Les Nairn (special makeup effects technician: Skull Islanders)
  • Rose Parsons (special makeup effects technician: Skull Islanders)
  • Cristina Patterson Ceret (contact lens coordinator/painter) (as Cristina Patterson)
  • Frances Richardson (foam latex technician: Skull Islanders)
  • Jessica Rose (makeup artist: extras)
  • Allie Rutherford (hair styling/makeup artist)
  • Claire Rutledge (crowd hair: New Zealand)
  • Gavin Skudder (special makeup effects technician: Skull Islanders)
  • Vinnie Smith (additional makeup artist)
  • Warren Smith (special makeup effects technician: Skull Islanders)
  • Fionna Sole (special makeup effects technician: Skull Islanders)
  • Emily Sturrock (special makeup effects technician: Skull Islanders) (as Emily-Jane Sturrock)
  • Richard Taylor (special creature effects/makeup effects)
  • Dominie Till (special makeup effects supervisor: Skull Islanders)
  • Deb Watson (hair styling/makeup artist)

Production Management[]

  • Pippa Anderson (post-production supervisor)
  • Anne Bruning (unit production manager)
  • Belindalee Hope (production manager)
  • Brigitte York (production manager)

Second Unit Director or Assistant Director[]

  • Marc Ashton (key second assistant director)
  • Dan Chatterton (third assistant director)
  • Randall William Cook (second unit director) (as Randy Cook)
  • Carolynne Cunningham (first assistant director)
  • Bryon Darling (third assistant director) (as Byron Darling)
  • Anna Groves (third assistant director: second unit)
  • Zo Hartley (third assistant director)
  • Sarah Lowe (second assistant director: second unit)
  • Darren Mackie (third assistant director)
  • Richard Matthews (additional second assistant director)
  • Robin Murphy (first assistant director: second unit)
  • Dave Norris (first assistant director: second unit)
  • Jacqui Pryor (third assistant director)
  • Skot Thomas (second assistant director)
  • Stephanie Weststrate (second assistant director)

Art Department[]

  • Daniel Aird (greensman)
  • Christopher Aitken (sculptor) (as Chris Aitken)



Peter Jackson was a nine year old in the New Zealand town of Pukerua Bay when he first saw the 1933 version of King Kong. He was in tears in front of the TV when Kong slipped off the Empire State Building. At age 12 he tried to recreate the film using his parents' super-8 camera and a model of Kong made of wire and rubber with his mother's fur coat for the hair but eventually gave up on the project. In 1996, he developed a version that was in pre-production for 6-7 months, but the studio canceled it. This is most likely because of the release of Mighty Joe Young and Godzilla the same year. During this time Jackson had achieved the designs of the Brontosaurus and the Venatosaurus. He then began work on The Lord of the Rings trilogy. No casting was ever done, but he had hoped to get either George Clooney or Robert De Niro. With the overwhelming box office and critical success of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Universal contacted him during the production of the second film, and he was paid $20 million USD to direct this film, the highest salary Hollywood ever paid a director.

Screenplay development[]

Peter Jackson has stated that the script significantly changed between the 1996 and 2005 drafts. In Jackson's original 1996 draft of the script, Ann was the daughter of famed English archaeologist Lord Linwood Darrow exploring ancient ruins in Sumatra. They would come into conflict with Denham during his filming, and they would uncover a hidden Kong statue and the map of Skull Island. This would indicate that the island natives were a cult religion that once thrived on the mainland of Asia, and all trace of the cult was wiped out, except for the few on the island. Instead of a playwright, Jack was an ex-First World War fighter pilot still struggling with the loss of his best friend, who is killed in battle during a World War I prologue. Herb the camera-man was the only supporting character in the original draft who made it to the final version. Another difference was that Ann was actually caught in the V. rex's jaws in the Kong/3 V. rex fight. According to the draft, Ann was wedged in the mouth and slashed by the teeth; after the fight, Kong got her out but by some reason, Ann got a fever, from which she recovered. (It did not say how Ann got it, but it was almost unmistakably an infection in one of her cuts). Jackson's first rough draft was described as a "tongue-in-cheek comedic film with elements of Raiders of the Lost Ark and other films," according to Jackson himself. Originally, he wanted a comical "monkey-face" to be released, but he credits Universal for pulling the plug, as he was able to rework things into what ended up on screen.

Other difficulties included the rewriting of the script between 1996 and 2005, adding more character development to the 1933 story and acting as though the 1976 version never existed. The process began with a nine-minute animatic created by Peter Jackson and shown to the writing team, causing Philippa Boyens to cry. Jackson, alongside Christian Rivers and his team, created animatics for all the action sequences which wound up becoming the first stage in animation. The Empire State Building animatic in particular, was completely replicated in the final film.


Peter Jackson decided early on that he did not want Kong to act human, and so they studied hours of gorilla footage. Andy Serkis, who modeled his movement, went to the London Zoo to watch the gorillas but was unsatisfied. He ended up going to Rwanda to observe mountain gorillas in the wild, with a company called Rainbow Tours. The resulting Kong is entirely a special effect, but he acts and moves very much like a real gorilla. Apart from Kong, Skull Island is also inhabited by dinosaurs and other large fauna. However, though they may look similar, they are not the familiar species. Inspired by the works of Dougal Dixon, the designers have imagined what 65 million years or more of isolated evolution would have done to the dinosaurs. The creatures can be said to be presented as more scientifically accurate than those portrayed in the 1933 version. However, it can also be argued that they are less accurate to the paleontology of 2005 than the dinosaurs from the original were accurate to the paleontology of 1933. The names of these and hundreds of other beasts are found in the book The World of Kong: A Natural History of Skull Island.


The film's budget climbed from an initial US$150 million to a record-breaking $207 million, making it at one point the most expensive film yet made. Universal Studios only agreed to such an outlay after seeing a screening of the unfinished film, to which executives responded enthusiastically. In addition, it is estimated that marketing and promotion costs were about $60 million. Production had difficulties, such as Peter Jackson's decision to change composers from Howard Shore to James Newton Howard seven weeks before the film opened. Also, the film was originally set to be 135 minutes, but soon grew to 200, prompting Universal executives to fly to New Zealand to view a rough cut, but they liked it so their concerns were addressed. The marketing campaign for King Kong started in full swing on June 27, 2005, when the teaser trailer made its debut, first online at the official Volkswagen website at 8:45 p.m. EST, then 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 as a way to give Jackson's The Lord of the Rings fans a glimpse of his next project. These diaries are edited into broadband-friendly installments of three or four minutes each. They consist of features that would normally be seen in a making-of documentary: a tour of the set, a roving camera introducing key 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. This was one of the first occasions in which material that would normally be considered supplementary to the DVD release of a film, 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.[citation needed] It is also the first time such material was published prior to the release of the film.[citation needed]

A novelization of the movie and a prequel entitled The Island of the Skull was also written. A multi-platform video game entitled Peter Jackson's King Kong was released, which featured an alternate ending. There was a hardback book entitled The World of Kong, featuring artwork from Weta Workshop to describe the fictional bestiary in the film. A number of spin-offs from the remake's franchise include books, novels, comics, and video games.

With a take of $9.7 million box office on its opening day and an opening weekend of $50.1 million, King Kong did not meet expectations of Universal Studios executives. Some media outlets even considered the film to be a flop after its weak opening weekend, as at that point it was not on pace to make back its $207 million budget. Its opening weekend of $50.1 million, while good for most movies, fell short of the inflated expectations caused by the movie's enormous budget and marketing campaign.

However, King Kong was able to hold its audience in the subsequent holiday weeks and ended up becoming a domestic hit, grossing $218.1 million at the North American box office (putting it in the top five grossing films of 2005 domestically). King Kong fared much better in the international market, as it grossed $332.437 million outside North America, leading to a worldwide total of $550.517 million (putting it in the top five grossing films of 2005 worldwide).

Other factors also affect a film's profitability besides box office sales, such as DVD sales. King Kong, sold over $100 million worth of DVDs in the largest six-day performance in Universal Studios history. As of April 3, 2006, King Kong has sold more than 7.5 million DVD's, accumulating over $140 million worth of sales numbers, domestically alone. As of June 25, 2006, King Kong has generated almost $38 million from DVD rental gross.

Thus, despite the film's inauspicious start at the box office, King Kong turned out to be very profitable. Ticket and DVD sales combined, the film earned well over $700 million, becoming the fourth-highest grossing movie in Universal Pictures history.

King Kong received a favorable critical response, garnering an 84% "Certified Fresh" approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The most common criticisms of the film were due to excessive length, lack of pace, over-use of slow motion, and some obvious use of CGI effects. Positive critical reviews regarded it as one of the few good epics and all-around best movies of 2005. Roger Ebert gave the movie four stars and listed it as the 8th best film of 2005. Similarly, King Kong has been included in many critics' Top Ten of 2005 lists. The film received four Academy Award nominations for Visual Effects, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, and Art Direction, winning all but the last. Entertainment Weekly called the depiction of Kong the most convincing computer-generated character in the film in 2005. Some criticized the film for retaining racist stereotypes present in the original film, though it was not suggested that Jackson had done this intentionally.


  • 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.