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    PCR #304  (Vol. 7, No. 3)  This edition is for the week of January 16--22, 2006.

"Match Point"  by Mike Smith
Kong vs Kong vs Kong  by Mark Terry
Hell is War, War is Heaven...  Dylan Jones
I'm a Rondo Nominee!!!..MOH Updates....Birthday Wishes....Peter Jackson's King Kong  by Matt Drinnenberg
But First....What 'Choo Talkin' 'Bout, Ray?...Award Time....Did You Hear That Pin Drop?....Please Grow Up!...One More....Passing On....See Ya!...My Favorite Films--Chapter 3  by Mike Smith
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My Second Toe Is Longer Than Yours

Kong vs Kong vs Kong  

For the past few months the talk on every movie-watcher's mind has been the new Peter Jackson "King Kong." I have read on this site and other sites people who think its the best Kong film and some people who absolutely hated it.

In this week's article I wanted to sit back and look at some numbers for the three major King Kong films.

The Original (1933)
The film that started it all was the 1933 King Kong film directed by the team of Merian Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack. This was a very ambitious film that made the name King Kong a house hold name.

The film was made for the ripe budget back in 1933 for 670,000 and grossed domestically 1.7 million when it was all said and done. Along with it also setting a revolution in marketing and advertising for the King Kong franchise. The film was also later released to a new audience in the 50s to garner a whole new generation of fans. It almost reminds me of George Lucas.

POSITIVES: The original is typically always looked on as the best. The beauty and the beast story was there without a doubt. No matter what, this is the one that started it all. The effects and monster were pretty damn good too. Even watching it again today I am surpised that this film was pulled off in 1933.

NEGATIVES: To a modern crowd there are a handful of negatives. The stylized era acting. I have also heard some younger people say its unwatchable because its in black and white. I personally feel that's an asinine comment but lets leave it there in the negative for sake of argument. Black and white can be put in the same area as the acting. Not that its bad but desperately needing an update

The DeLaurentis Remake (1976)
The 1976 version of King Kong came in with a bang. However, many viewers of today's King Kong absolutely hate the 1976 version. The '76 version was made for 24 million and like the '33 version more than doubled its budget domestically. The final rake in was 52.6 million.

If one were to talk about modernizing the 1933 version the writers of the 1976 version did that without a doubt. They strayed off the concept of the original which people either love or hate. I personally thought it was brilliant.

POSITIVES: The first thing that comes to mind is Jessica Lang. The two time Oscar winning actress broke out in this first film. I don't think there is any doubt that her character "Dwan"....Like Dawn but you switch the W and the A around, remember? Comparatively to the other two Ann Darrow characters its not even close. Jessica Lang was a hotty no doubt.

This film is also a film of its era. With references to the porn "Deep Throat" and focusing on the big corporations and materialism of the '70s. Similar to what the original "Dawn of the Dead" did.

I also loved how this film showed the transportation of Kong back to NYC. The other two Kong films leave that gap. Especially the newest version where it cuts to NYC after 30 minutes was spent on showing how difficult it was to reach the island.

The only other two positives that come to mind are the World Trade Center update which is a matter of taste and the graphic nature of how Kong was killed. The other two version do not show the blood after Kong was shot like this version does.

On a side note Jeff Bridges is always cool, too. So let's count that as a positive.

NEGATIVES: Just like Jessica Lang coming to my mind as the first major positive without question the first major negative was how cheap Kong looked. This was nothing more than a man walking around in a suit.

Over all the special effects were pretty bad for this era. Star Wars came out 1 year later with effects that blew this film away. Originally the film makers for this film wanted an electronic Kong but it never happened. The electronic Kong was only used in two shots when he was breaking away from the chains at the end.

Some traditionalists would also count this version's stray from the story as a negative. I guess we will just leave that up to taste.

The Peter Jackson Remake (2005)
The newest Peter Jackson "King Kong" came out of the blocks like gang busters. At this point in time we can finally do justice to a film that needs updating desperately. Jackson also has proved in his previous 3 films he can make the believability of this story come to life.

POSITIVES: The first would be the best update of King Kong, the actual character, ever. No longer is he walking on two legs or is it a man in a suit.

The special effects were unreal. Bottom line.

Although this is another matter of taste, I felt the casting was perfect. I really feel that Jack Black was 100% perfect for that part. Mix in Adrian Brody and you have another heavy hitter.

For traditionalists that hated the 1976 version this was the ultimate compliment and update of the 1933 version. I loved the way the island natives looked as well.

NEGATIVES: The first negative I will say is a personal observation. I have never read this observation in any reviews of King Kong. To me the newest version of the monster was not as scary as the previous two versions. It felt like the beauty and beast angle was being pushed way too hard before we ever saw Kong. I think Jackson tried extremely hard to make this Kong be what they call in pro wrestling a "baby-face." If you remember in the 1976 version Kong was almost a rapist.

Another major negative was the over embellishment by Jackson. 187 minutes long. Holy Shit! Some people love the length but most people I have spoke to say it was too much. And to think Jackson's first cut was over 200 minutes is mind boggling.

In conclusion...
The test of time will be the single biggest test for the new version of the film. A very interesting side observation can seen by looking at the numbers below:

  • King Kong 1933 Budget 670,000...domestic gross 1.7 million
  • King Kong 1976 Budget 24 million...domestic gross 52.6 million
  • King Kong 2005 Budget over 207 million...domestic gross 203 million in 5 weeks

    The trend of the first two films is that they made over double their budget in the US. The new King Kong is just about to equal its budget after 6 weeks which is not a good sign. Hell, "Spider-Man 2" and "Star Wars" Episode III made it to well over 350 million in 8 days. Like I said before, only time will tell.

    Source for budgets and information:

    "My Middle Toe Is Longer Than Yours" is ©2006 by Mark Terry.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.