|Species||Megaprimatus kong (Advanced Gigantopithecus or Gorilla)|
The 8th Wonder of the World
|Relationships||Toho King Kong (Counterpart)|
|Allies||Anne Darrow and Jack Driscol|
|Enemies||Creatures of Skull Island|
The Filming Team
|First Appearance||King Kong|
|Latest Appearance||King Kong|
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King Kong is a giant ape, the last member of his species (Megaprimatus Kong). They are not native to Skull Island, but it is presumed that the species Gigantopithecus (from the greek word Γίγαντας Gigantas meaning Giant and the word Πίθηκος Pithecus meaning monkey), a prehistoric gorilla that was bigger than modern apes, came to the island via an ancient land bridge linked to Asia. This of course happened many thousands of years ago.
The name King Kong consists of two words: "King", and "Kong". Kong is most likely derivated from the German word Koing, meaning king. Ergo, the name literary means the "king of kings", as this massive beast has shown to be more powerful than any other animal which attacked it.
Physical appearanceMegaprimatus' appearance was like that of an ordinary gorilla, except they were much larger and stronger, regularly growing to heights of over 18-25 feet. As in most gorillas, their fur was a dark black, with the hair on the heads and backs of the older males turning greyish-silver, hence the term 'silverback'.
As do all gorillas, these creatures also walk when their knuckles are assisting them. Since they are required to support weight worth tons, these knuckles are extremely durable and thick, having the ability to stand almost any pressure.
Based on the habits of other apes, it can be presumed that Megaprimatus lived in small family groups, with females and their young guarded by the much larger males. They would live where food was plentiful, venturing down from the uplands and entering the jungles, to feed on the wide range of lush plants. Megaprimatus would feed on fruit, shoots and leaves of all kinds. Their communication was like that of smaller gorillas, using vocalizations such as grunts and roars. Posturing and body language were used as well, as to intimidate rivals and frighten enemies.
Megaprimatus had many foes. Vastatosaurus rex was a mortal enemy, as were Venatosaurs, Foetodon and Terapusmordax. These were a constant threat to the young. Full-grown male Megaprimatus were equal matches for any V-rex, though the largest V-rexes would have been determined to kill the young. While the V-rex had the advantage of massive-bone crushing jaws and armored skin, Megaprimatus had the advantage of their intelligence, massive strength and grasping hands. They could use primitive tools such as logs and boulders against threats, and could grapple, render and bite, and if given the option and the understanding, even break necks and skulls. The young of both species were in constant danger from the adults, as the killing of a young Megaprimatus or young V-rex would eliminate future threats. Neither would allow the other on their territory under any circumstances, and fights were usually brief since they used intimidation. If the stakes got high enough, it would be a bloodbath. The smaller predators, Venatosaurus and Foetodon, were not as large but were just as dangerous, even though Venatosaurs packs and groups of Foetodon were much easier to fend off and kill. Like other gorillas, Megaprimatus also had to fight off other Megaprimatus, especially the males.
HistoryIn the original film, the character's name is Kong -- a name given to him by the inhabitants of "Skull Island" in the Indian Ocean, where Kong lived along with other over-sized animals such as snakes, pterosaurs and dinosaurs. 'King' is an appellation added by an American film crew led by Carl Denham who captures Kong and takes him to New York City to be exhibited. Kong escapes and climbs the Empire State Building (the World Trade Center in the 1976 remake) where he is shot and killed by aircraft. However, "it was beauty killed the beast," as he only climbed the building in the first place in an attempt to protect actress Ann Darrow (Dwan in the 1976 remake).
- King Kong (1933). The original, classic film, is remembered for its pioneering special effects using stop-motion models, animatronics and evocative story.
- Son Of Kong. A sequel released the same year, it concerns a return expedition to Skull Island that discovers Kong's son.
- King Kong vs. Godzilla. A film produced by Toho Studios in Japan. It brought the titular characters to life (the first time for either character to be in a film in color) via the process of suitmation. The Toho version of Kong is at least five times the size of the one in the original film. This is more than likely because of a significant difference in size between the 1933 King Kong and Godzilla (and, for that matter, all of the company's giant monsters), with Kong automatically rescaled to fit Toho's existing miniature sets.
- King Kong Escapes. Another Toho film in which Kong faces both a mechanical double, dubbed Mechani-Kong, and a giant theropod dinosaur known as Gorosaurus (who would appear in Toho's Destroy All Monsters the next year). This movie was influenced by the contemporaneous cartoon television program, as indicated by the use of its recurring villain, Dr. Who, in the same capacity.
- King Kong (1976). An updated remake by film producer Dino De Laurentiis, released by Paramount Pictures, and director John Guillermin. Jessica Lange, Jeff Bridges and Charles Grodin starred. The film received mixed reviews, but it was a commercial success, and its reputation has improved over the last few years. Co-winner of an Oscar for special effects (shared with Logan's Run).
- King Kong Lives. Released by De Laurentiis Entertainment Group (DEG). Starring Linda Hamilton, a sequel by the same producer and director as the 1976 film which involves Kong surviving his fall from the sky and requiring a coronary operation. It includes a female member of Kong's species, who, after supplying a blood transfusion that enables the life-saving surgery, escapes and mates with Kong, becoming pregnant with his offspring. Trashed by critics, this was a box-office failure.
- ''King Kong (2005). A Universal Pictures remake of the original (set in the same period) by Academy award-winning New Zealand director Peter Jackson, best known for directing the The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. The most recent incarnation of Kong is also the longest, running three hours and eight minutes. Winner of three Academy Awards for visual effects, sound mixing, and sound editing.
Late in 2005, the BBC and Hollywood trade papers reported that a 3-D stereoscopic version of the 2005 film was being created from the animation files, and live actors digitally enhanced for 3D display. This may be just an elaborate 3D short for Universal Studios Theme Park, or a digital 3D version for general release in 2007.
The literary tradition of a remote and isolated jungle populated by natives and prehistoric animals was rooted in the Lost World genre, specifically Arthur Conan Doyle's 1912 novel The Lost World, which was itself made into a silent film of that title in 1925 that Doyle lived long enough to see. The special effects of that film were created by Willis O'Brien, who went on to do those for the 1933 King Kong. Another important book in that literary genre is Edgar Rice Burroughs' 1918 novel The Land That Time Forgot.
A novelization of the original King Kong film was published in December 1932 as part of the film's advance marketing. The novel was credited to Edgar Wallace and Merian C. Cooper, although it was in fact written by Delos W. Lovelace. Apparently, however, Cooper was the key creative influence, saying that he got the initial idea after he had a dream that a giant gorilla was terrorizing New York City. In an interview, comic book author Joe DeVito explains:
- "From what I know, Edgar Wallace, a famous writer of the time, died very early in the process. Little if anything of his ever appeared in the final story, but his name was retained for its saleability ... King Kong was Cooper’s creation, a fantasy manifestation of his real life adventures. As many have mentioned before, Cooper was Carl Denham. His actual exploits rival anything Indiana Jones ever did in the movies." 
This conclusion about Wallace's contribution agrees with The Making of King Kong, by Orville Goldner and George E. Turner (1975). Wallace died of pneumonia complicated by diabetes on February 10, 1932, and Cooper later said, "Actually, Edgar Wallace didn't write any of Kong, not one bloody word... I'd promised him credit and so I gave it to him" (p. 59).
In the October 28, 1933 issue of Cinema Weekly, the short story "King Kong" by Edgar Wallace and Draycott Montagu Dell (1888-1940) was published. The short story appears in Peter Haining's Movie Monsters (1988) published by Severn House in the UK. Dell was a journalist and wrote books for children, such as the 1934 story and puzzle book Stand and Deliver. He was a co-worker and close friend of Edgar Wallace.
Several differences exist in the novel from the completed film, as it reflects an earlier draft of the script that became the final shooting script. The novelization includes scenes from the screenplay that were cut from the completed movie, or were never shot altogether. These include the spider pit sequence, as well as a Styracosaurus attack, and Kong battling three Triceratops. It also does not feature the character of Charlie, the ship's Chinese cook, but instead a different one named Lumpy, subsequently used in both the 1991 comic book version and the 2005 big-screen remake.
The original publisher was Grosset & Dunlap. Paperback editions by Bantam (U.S.) and Corgi (UK) came out in the 1960s, and it has since been republished by Penguin and Random House.
In 1933, Mystery Magazine published a King Kong serial under the byline of Walter F. Ripperger. This is unrelated to the 1932 novel.
Over the decades, there have been numerous comic book adaptations of the 1933 King Kong by various comic-book publishers, and one of the 2005 remake by Dark Horse Comics.
Kong: King of Skull Island, an illustrated novel labeled as an authorized sequel to King Kong (1933), was published in 2004 by DH Press, a subsidiary of Dark Horse Comics. A large-paperback edition was released in 2005. Authorized by the family and estate of Merian C. Cooper, the book was created & illustrated by Joe DeVito, written by Brad Strickland with John Michlig, and includes an introduction by Ray Harryhausen. The novel's story ignores the existence of Son of Kong (1933) and continues the story of Skull Island with Carl Denham and Jack Driscoll in the late 1950s, through the novel's central character, Vincent Denham. (Ann Darrow does not appear, but is mentioned several times.) The novel also becomes a prequel that reveals the story of the early history of Kong, of Skull Island, and of the natives of the island.
The novelization of the 2005 movie was written by Christopher Golden, based on the screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, & Peter Jackson, which was, of course, in turn based on the original story by Merian C. Cooper & Edgar Wallace. (The Island of the Skull, a "prequel" novel to the 2005 movie, was released at nearly the same time.)
In November 2005, to coincide with the release of the 2005 movie, Weta Workshop released a collection of concept art from the film entitled The World of Kong: A Natural History of Skull Island. While similar collections of production art have been released in the past to compliment other movies, The World of Kong is unusual - if not unique - in that it is written and designed to resemble and read like an actual nature guide and historical record, not a movie book.
Also in 2005, ibooks published Kong Reborn by Russell Blackford. Ignoring all films except the 1933 original, it is set in the present day. Carl Denham's grandson finds some genetic material from the original Kong and attempts to clone him.
In the children's book, Where's Wally in Hollywood,he is seen wearing a crown on his head carrying people on his hands.
- The King Kong Show (1966). In this cartoon series, the giant gorilla befriends the Bond family, with whom he goes on various adventures, fighting monsters, robots, mad scientists and other threats. Produced by Rankin/Bass, the animation was provided in Japan by Toei Animation, making this the very first anime series to be commissioned right out of Japan by an American company. This was also the cartoon that resulted in the production of Toho's Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster (originally planned as a Kong film) and King Kong Escapes.
- Kong: The Animated Series (2001). An unofficial animated production set many decades after the events of the original film. "Kong" is cloned by a female scientist.
- A direct-to-DVD movie called Kong: King of Atlantis, based on the 2001 series, has been released to try and cash in on the 2005 movie. Both the series and movie were then included in Toon Disney's "Jetix" group for a time, also to take advantage of the 2005 movie's release.
- King Kong made an appearance in the 2nd episode of Where My Dogs At? in the background of the MTV Movie Awards.
- The King Kong suit from King Kong Escapes appeared on Ike! Greenman episode 38 called Greenman vs Gorilla. Due to copyright reasons King Kong's name was changed to Gorilla.
- The Lost World: Willis O'Brien's 1925 effort, in which dinosaurs are found living on an isolated plateau provided inspiration for several scenes from Kong.
- Creation: A 1931 project of O'Brien's also about a group of people stumbling into an environment where prehistoric creatures have survived extinction that was never completed. Several scenes were later cannibalized for Kong.
- Wasei Kingu Kongu (lit. Japanese King Kong): An obscure Japanese short film, also released in 1933. It was directed by Torajiro Saito featuring an all-Japanese cast and was produced by the Shochiku Company. Detailed information about this film has been virtually non-existant, particulary outside of Japan.
- King Kong appears in Edo: A 1938 Japanese monster/period piece produced by Zensho Kinema in which King Kong attacks medieval Edo (now Tokyo). Considering the sketchy existence of Wasei Kingu Kongu, this is arguably Japan's first daikaiju film, predating Godzilla by sixteen years. The film was thougt to have been lost for years, until it was discovered by a fan visiting Japan in 2012.
- Mighty Joe Young: 1949 story of another giant ape brought to the U.S. for entertainment purposes and subsequently wreaking havoc.
- Bye Bye Monkey: A 1978 French-Italian co-production about a man raising the orphaned son of the 1976 King Kong.
- Star Godzilla: An unofficial 1980 Godzilla movie, which features a character called "Giant Ape", clearly meant to be Kong.
- King Kong appears in the Special Effects: Anything Can Happen: A 1996 IMAX film in which the climax of the classic 1933 film recreated with modern (at the time) digital special effects.
- Mighty Joe Young: 1998 remake of the 1949 film of the same name.
- The Mighty Kong: Unofficial 1998 straight-to-video remake of the 1933 film as an animated musical.
- Other similar films: A*P*E, The Mighty Peking Man, Konga, Queen Kong, The Mighty Gorga and Kong Island, which despite the "Kong" name, features only gorillas of normal size.
Pop culture references
King Kong, as well as the series of films featuring him, have been featured many times in popular culture outside of the films themselves, in forms ranging from straight copies to parodies and joke references, and in media from comics to video games.
The 2005 remake in particular was spoofed during The Mighty Boosh live tour in 2006 - with the character of Bollo (a talking gorilla) stating that since the last TV series he had auditioned for the part of King Kong, and was fairly certain director Peter Jackson was in the bar before the show eating a flapjack. At several points during the show, he signals to Peter as he demonstrates his acting ability, oblivious to the fact that it was already available on DVD and he hadn't got the part!
- An animated King Kong appears in The Beatles' 1968 movie Yellow Submarine.
- The Simpsons spoofed King Kong during a segment of their "Treehouse of Horror III" Halloween episode.
- The show Garfield and Friends make many references to the film.
- In the Toho Kingdom media cartoons, the Toho King Kong appears in the short "King Kong Tries To Escape".
- Donkey Kong, a popular Nintendo character, is based on King Kong.
- In the Mr. Men Show, he was seen holding Little Miss Sunshine as a cameo.
- King Kong was planned to be in Godzilla Unleashed but was later replaced with Zilla who was frankly dropped due to a possible negative fan reaction.
- By evolution and elimination, as well as survival of the most adapt, the King Kong shown in the films is considered to be the greatest of them all, as he survived many attacks from many creatures, was a witness to his race extinct, yet survived.
- Some of the German releases of the Showa-era films changed the names of various unrelated characters to King Kong. For instance, both Jet Jaguar from Godzilla vs. Megalon and MechaGodzilla are called King Kong in the dubs. However, unlike what many people believe, they aren't stated to actually be the real King Kong wearing robot suits. The name 'King Kong' carried great marquee-value, and this is likely the reason why the German distributors changed the names around.