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King Kong

King Kong is back. In 2005, writer/director Peter Jackson, the man responsible for "The Lord of the Rings" Trilogy, will direct a new, large-scale remake featuring a monstrous computer generated ape to be created by Jackson's special effects company, WETA Digital. However, Kong's origins lay long ago, towards the beginning of the last century in fact.

"King Kong" - 1933

King Kong PosterOfficial Text: An expedition explores a remote island with a gigantic ape deity known as Kong. Kong falls in love with a beautiful actress, who accompanies the expedition, when she is offered as a sacrifice. She is rescued. Kong is captured and taken to New York for exhibition. Kong breaks out of his cage and tries to elope with the actress.
By the early 1930's, many producers were trying to build on the success of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Lost World," an epic adventure film about an expedition to a plateau filled with prehistoric animals, which we brought to life by Willis O'Brien. Merian C. Cooper and Edgar Wallace came up with the story about an island populated by dinosaurs, and of course, a huge silverback gorilla. The tale told of Carl Denham, a filmmaker who heads to the remote Skull Island to capture Kong, a huge creature who the locals hold at bay with a giant barrier that keep the beast locked in his primordial jungle. Ann Darrow, and John "Jack" Driscoll get caught up in the adventure, as Ann is captured by Kong and taken into the interior of his island home, and Jack leads the rescue mission to bring her back. On the way, the explorers are attacked by various types of dinosaurs. Eventually, they capture the gorilla and take him back to civilization, where Kong meets his end on the Empire State Building. The film went down in history as one of the great film adventures to be produced in that time period, and is considered a classic today.
King Kong (2005)
Three-time Academy Award® winner Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King) directs King Kong, bringing his sweeping cinematic vision to the iconic story of the gigantic ape-monster captured in the wilds and brought to civilization where he meets his tragic fate.

The screenplay by Jackson, Walsh (three-time Oscar® winner) and Boyens (Academy Award® winner) is based on the original story by Merian C. Cooper and Edgar Wallace, which became the classic 1933 RKO Radio Pictures film, directed by adventurers Cooper and Ernest B. Schoesdack. The RKO King Kong has been designated by the National Film Registry of the United States Library of Congress as one of the 100 Greatest Films and chosen by that organization for permanent preservation as a national treasure.

Jackson will employ the latest motion picture technology to cinematically portray the timeless tale of the beast and his beauty. Expanding on the chapters of the tale that take place in the mysterious and dangerous jungles of Skull Island, Jackson's Kong promises to be a unique and breathtaking creation. As with his Lord of the Rings trilogy, Jackson will shoot King Kong on location in his native New Zealand.
'I think the original King Kong is a wonderful blend – possibly the most perfect blend – of escapism and adventure and mystery and romance… it has that wonderful mixture of emotion and fantasy.’
Peter Jackson

New Zealand filming locations
As with all his films to date, Jackson set up base at his studios in the Mirimar suburb of Wellington, although location shooting took place in and around the greater Wellington region, with one set even based in Auckland.
Wellington Region
Shelly Bay & Lyall Bay: Skull Island
Filming for Skull Island took place at Lyall Bay. A second large-scale version, including the giant wall which separated Kong from the rest of the island, was built above the Massey Memorial near Shelly Bay. Skull Island was a key location in the original 1933 movie, and Jackson’s film follows the 1933 version faithfully, with a large portion of the film set on the ‘island’.

Seaview, Lower Hutt: New York
1930s New York came alive in New Zealand at Seaview in Wellington’s Hutt Valley as Jackson created a faithful depression-era version of the Big Apple complete with Broadway, Times Square and Macy’s department store, as well as vintage cars and extras clad in period costume.

Kapiti Island & Cook Strait: Venture Ocean Scenes
Ocean scenes aboard the steamer, Venture, were filmed around Kapiti Island, a protected bird sanctuary off Wellington’s Kapiti Coast. Incidentally, Jackson and his crew made an unscheduled visit to Kapiti Island in March 2005 when they had to abandon the Venture. The boat began to take on water during filming, flooding the engine room!
Ocean-going scenes were also shot on the Cook Strait, a stretch of water linking Wellington to Picton, at the tip of the South Island. The Strait is renowned for its rough weather and scenic beauty. The Venture pier scenes were shot at Mirimar Wharf in Cobham Drive, Wellington.
Civic Theatre: New York Theatre Interior
Auckland’s magnificent 1929 atmospheric theatre doubled for the interior of the New York theatre where Kong breaks free of his chains and escapes. A key arts venue, the theatre is still used for a range of performances from dance to theatre, and is one of the few of its type remaining in the world. It is designed to evoke the outdoors at night, and is decorated with motifs and romantic images of the East.

For more detailed information about this movie or any other New Zealand film please go to the New Zealand Film Commission

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