Theatrical release: March 2, 1933 (NY).
KING KONG was added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1991.
The story originated with writer Edgar Wallace, who died before the film's 1933 release.
Despite Kong's apparent death at the end of the 1933 classic, the tale of a giant ape set loose on the modern world has been retold many times since. The quickie sequel, SON OF KONG, was released in 1933 and shared director Ernest B. Schoedsack, special effects man Willis O'Brian and star Robert Armstrong with the first film. Armstrong joined Helen Mack and Victor Wong on a trip back to Skull Island, where they discover Kong's young son.
In 1949, Schoedsack, O'Brian, and Armstrong went back to the well once more and retrieved MIGHTY JOE YOUNG, about another giant monkey. O'Brian shared effects duties with Ray Harryhausen this time out and Armstrong was joined in the cast by Terry Moore, Ben Johnson, Frank McHugh, and "Mr. Joseph Young."
Japanese director Inoshira Honda produced a pair of mid-1960s KONG movies, KING KONG ESCAPES and KING KONG VS. GODZILLA.
Dino de Laurentiis produced an extravagant and largely unsuccessful remake of KING KONG in 1976. It was directed by John Guillermin with effects by Rick Baker. Jeff Bridges, Charles Grodin, John Randolph, and Rene Auberjonois starred in the film, which also featured the film debut of model Jessica Lange. De Laurentiis and Guillermin also produced a 1986 sequel that was aptly titled KING KONG LIVES, which starred Brian Kerwin, Linda Hamilton, John Ashton, and Peter Michael Goetz. In this film, a pair of scientists find the resurrected gorilla a giant mate and battle those who would destroy the beast.
Before KING KONG, Willis O'Brian worked on the 1925 film THE LOST WORLD. Based on the Arthur Conan Doyle tale, this silent classic tells the story of a group of scientists who stumble on a prehistoric world of dinosaurs and other presumably extinct creatures while on a museum outing. It was directed by Harry Hoyt and starred Bessie Love, Wallace Beery, and Lewis Stone. Disaster-movie king Irwin Allen produced a 1960 remake that starred Michael Rennie, Jill St. John, David Hedison, Claude Rains, Fernando Lamas, and Richard Haydn.
Stop-motion animation was used to create the 50-foot Kong out of six 18-inch models. These models were constructed out of rubber and rabbit fur over a metal skeleton. For close-ups, the filmmakers created a full-scale hand and 20-foot model of Kong's head and shoulders and covered them in bear hides.