TBS, TNT and Turner Classic Movies To Celebrate 75th Anniversary of King Kong In April
TNT and TBS to Simulcast Network Television Premiere of Peter Jackson’s Blockbuster Remake, Starring Naomi Watts, Jack Black and Adrien Brody.
TCM to Present Classic 1939 Original, Starring Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong and Bruce Cabot.
TBS, TNT and Turner Classic Movies (TCM) are teaming up to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Hollywood’s tallest, darkest leading man: KING KONG. The celebration will begin Monday, April 7, at 8 p.m. (ET), when TCM presents the original 1933 classic, which stars Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong and Bruce Cabot. Then on Friday, April 11, at 8 p.m. (ET/PT), TNT and TBS will simulcast director Peter Jackson’s OscarÂ®-winning 2005 remake, starring Naomi Watts, Jack Black and Adrien Brody.
“KING KONG is an excellent example of how having a portfolio of networks like ours provides outstanding programming opportunities,” said Ken Schwab, senior vice president of programming for TBS and TNT.
Charles Tabesh, senior vice president of programming for TCM, added, “Through our celebration of KING KONG’s 75th anniversary, we will be able to bring the past and present together in a way no other company can do.”
In addition to the April 11 simulcast of Jackson’s acclaimed blockbuster, TNT will present encores of the film Saturday, April 12, and Sunday, April 13, at 8 p.m. (ET/PT). TCM will follow its April 7 presentation of the original 1933 version of KING KONG with four other movie classics celebrating their 75th anniversary: Dinner at Eight at 10 p.m., Little Women at midnight, 42nd Street at 2 a.m. and Queen Christina at 3:45 a.m.
As a build-up to the network television premiere of Jackson’s film, fans of his The Lord of the Rings trilogy can catch all three of those Oscar-winning films on TNT the weekend prior to KING KONG, with The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring airing Friday, April 4, at 8 p.m.; The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers airing Saturday, April 5, at 8 p.m.; and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King airing Sunday, April 6, at 8 p.m.
KING KONG tells the story of Carl Denham, a maverick filmmaker determined to capture on film images that have never been seen by civilization. He and his stalwart crew hire a boat and head to the remote Skull Island, where they encounter natives worshipping a mysterious god. After the natives capture Ann Darrow, Denham’s leading lady, and offer her as a sacrifice, the reality of their god becomes apparent: it is a giant gorilla they call Kong.
Kong, who is struck by Ann’s beauty, takes her back to his lair, fighting off numerous prehistoric beasts who would like to make a meal of her. Denham and his crew, meanwhile, set out to get her back alive and capture Kong to take him back to New York. Once in the Big Apple, Kong breaks free, finds Ann and climbs to the top of the Empire State Building, where he faces the bullets of fighter planes buzzing overhead. Bleeding and alone in a world he doesn’t understand, Kong looks to Ann for comfort. But even her beauty and affection cannot save him. He tumbles off the building to his tragic death on the streets below. As a crowd gathers, Denham provides newspaper reporters with their perfect headline: “‘Twas beauty killed the beast.”
KING KONG began as the brainchild of director Merian C. Cooper, who came up with the idea while he was shooting wild-animal footage for the movie The Four Feathers. His original plan for KING KONG was to use a real gorilla made larger through the use of trick photography. When he saw some model animation that Willis O’Brien had put together for an abandoned dinosaur project, he realized the special-effects wizard was the perfect person to bring his giant gorilla to life. O’Brien’s work on the film took special effects to an entirely new level, paving the road for a number of subsequent classic films, including several created by Ray Harryhausen, who learned his craft working under O’Brien.
RKO released KING KONG in New York in 1933. At the time, it was the only film that had ever played by Radio City Music Hall and the RKO Roxy simultaneously. Audiences and critics were amazed, and KING KONG went on to make more than $1.7 million at the height of the Depression, single-handedly saving RKO from bankruptcy. Unfortunately, the studio mangled the prints in later releases, removing several sequences that were deemed too graphic or too suggestive for audiences. It was not until the 1960s that many of these scenes were restored.
In 1976, producer Dino De Laurentiis created a new version of KING KONG that featured make-up artist Rick Baker in a gorilla suit, along with a few sequences with a massively expensive mechanical Kong made by Carlo Rambaldi. The film was dismissed by critics, but managed to become a blockbuster and earn an Oscar for its visual effects.
Nearly three decades later, filmmaker Peter Jackson, hot off of his extraordinary feat of making The Lord of the Rings trilogy, decided to try for his own remake. He was determined to do everything right that De Laurentiis had done so very wrong. Jackson didn’t want to just remake the 1933 classic; he wanted to pay loving homage to it. To do so, he teamed up with writers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, who had helped make his Tolkien trilogy such a critical and financial success. And he called upon the same special-effects and design teams that brought Middle Earth to life.
Jackson’s film was released in 2005 to enormous critical praise and blockbuster crowds. Like the 1933 original, Jackson’s film took special effects to a new level, using computer animation and performance elements by Andy Serkis (Gollum in The Lord of the Rings) to make Kong to astonishingly realistic. The results were three Oscars (Best Visual Effects, Best Sound and Best Sound Effects Editing) and a domestic gross of more than $200 million.