Getting the green light to remake “King Kong” was easy for Peter Jackson. All he had to do was make a little trilogy called “The Lord of the Rings” first.
The five-time Academy Award-nominated filmmaker, who first emerged with cult horror hits like “Bad Taste” and “Dead Alive,” has wanted to remake the classic 1933 giant ape flick for years. He nearly got the “King Kong” project off the ground once before, but it stalled, reportedly because Universal was nervous about entrusting such a big project to a director whose mainstream credits were limited to the Michael J. Fox flop “The Frighteners” and the acclaimed but commercially underwhelming “Heavenly Creatures.”
But now the success of “The Lord of the Rings” has afforded him the clout to get his dream project made. Universal Pictures has announced that Jackson will begin work on “King Kong” immediately after he completes this year’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” with a 2005 release date in mind.
“No film has captivated my imagination more than King Kong,” Jackson said in a statement. “I’m making movies today because I saw this film when I was 9 years old. It has been my sustained dream to reinterpret this classic story for a new age. The story of Kong offers everything that any storyteller could hope for: an archetypal narrative, thrilling action, resonating emotion and memorable characters. It has endured for precisely these reasons, and I am honored to be a part of its continuing legacy.”
The original “King Kong,” about a giant ape who is discovered on the remote Skull Island and brought to New York City, was an innovative special effects marvel at the time. Unlike later remakes and sequels, such as 1976’s “King Kong” and 1986’s “King Kong Lives,” Jackson’s version will be set in the ’30s and will expand on the Skull Island scenes.
Like “The Lord of the Rings,” “King Kong” will be filmed entirely in New Zealand with Jackson’s Oscar-winning Weta company providing the special effects. Jackson co-wrote the script with “Rings” partners Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh, who is also his wife and will serve as co-producer alongside him.