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On April 7th, 1933, audiences across the country were treated to Merian Cooper's presentation of "King Kong." The visual effects work of Willis O'Brien in bringing Kong to life stunned audiences and studio execs alike, and inspired leagues of filmmakers, including visual effects wizard Stan Winston and director Peter Jackson.
The movie was remade in 1976, but it wasn't until 2005 when Peter Jackson decided to follow up his highly successful run with the Lord of the Rings series with his homage to Kong that many audiences really paid new attention to the 1930's story.
Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the original by broadcasting the 1933 original on April 7th, 2008 at 8pm ET/PT. Then, on Friday, April 11th at 8pm ET/PT, TBS and TNT will be showing the 2005 version simultaneously. Apparently, the 1976 version gets no love whatsoever...
DirecTV and Dish Network carry both TBS and TNT in high definition, and I would imagine that quite a few cable carriers do as well. You will want to check your lineups to see if you will have a chance to see 2005's Kong in HD.
One of the benefits of having bought into the HD DVD format is that the 2005 version of King Kong is one of the great titles available! My guess is that TNT and TBS will be interrupting the movie often with commercial breaks, and an equally good guess is that they won't be showing the movie in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The movie won three Academy Awards for sound and visual effects and was nominated for another in Art Direction. It certainly deserves to be seen in the best presentation possible!
What if you don't have an HD DVD player? Do you watch the cut-up version in HD or the SD DVD? Personally, I'd pick one of the DVD versions that are available (Amazon.com lists both a theatrical version and an extended 3-disc deluxe edition). Having correct composition and no commercials is more important than HD, in my opinion. Yours may vary.
The full press release from Turner Entertainment Networks appears below.
TBS, TNT and Turner Classic Movies to Celebrate 75th Anniversary of KING KONG in April
TNT and TBS to Simulcast Network Television Premiere of Peter Jackson's Blockbuster Remake, Starring Naomi Watts, Jack Black and Adrien Brody
TCM to Present Classic 1933 Original, Starring Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong and Bruce Cabot
ATLANTA, March 24 /PRNewswire/ -- TBS, TNT and Turner Classic Movies (TCM) are teaming up to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Hollywood's tallest, darkest leading man: KING KONG. The celebration will begin Monday, April 7, at 8 p.m. (ET), when TCM presents the original 1933 classic, which stars Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong and Bruce Cabot. Then on Friday, April 11, at 8 p.m. (ET/PT), TNT and TBS will simulcast director Peter Jackson's Oscar(R)-winning 2005 remake, starring Naomi Watts, Jack Black and Adrien Brody.
"KING KONG is an excellent example of how having a portfolio of networks like ours provides outstanding programming opportunities," said Ken Schwab, senior vice president of programming for TBS and TNT.
Charles Tabesh, senior vice president of programming for TCM, added, "Through our celebration of KING KONG's 75th anniversary, we will be able to bring the past and present together in a way no other company can do."
In addition to the April 11 simulcast of Jackson's acclaimed blockbuster, TNT will present encores of the film Saturday, April 12, and Sunday, April 13, at 8 p.m. (ET/PT). TCM will follow its April 7 presentation of the original 1933 version of KING KONG with four other movie classics celebrating their 75th anniversary: Dinner at Eight at 10 p.m., Little Women at midnight, 42nd Street at 2 a.m. and Queen Christina at 3:45 a.m.
As a build-up to the network television premiere of Jackson's film, fans of his The Lord of the Rings trilogy can catch all three of those Oscar- winning films on TNT the weekend prior to KING KONG, with The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring airing Friday, April 4, at 8 p.m.; The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers airing Saturday, April 5, at 8 p.m.; and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King airing Sunday, April 6, at 8 p.m.
KING KONG tells the story of Carl Denham, a maverick filmmaker determined to capture on film images that have never been seen by civilization. He and his stalwart crew hire a boat and head to the remote Skull Island, where they encounter natives worshipping a mysterious god. After the natives capture Ann Darrow, Denham's leading lady, and offer her as a sacrifice, the reality of their god becomes apparent: it is a giant gorilla they call Kong.
Kong, who is struck by Ann's beauty, takes her back to his lair, fighting off numerous prehistoric beasts who would like to make a meal of her. Denham and his crew, meanwhile, set out to get her back alive and capture Kong to take him back to New York. Once in the Big Apple, Kong breaks free, finds Ann and climbs to the top of the Empire State Building, where he faces the bullets of fighter planes buzzing overhead. Bleeding and alone in a world he doesn't understand, Kong looks to Ann for comfort. But even her beauty and affection cannot save him. He tumbles off the building to his tragic death on the streets below. As a crowd gathers, Denham provides newspaper reporters with their perfect headline: "'Twas beauty killed the beast."
KING KONG began as the brainchild of director Merian C. Cooper, who came up with the idea while he was shooting wild-animal footage for the movie The Four Feathers. His original plan for KING KONG was to use a real gorilla made larger through the use of trick photography. When he saw some model animation that Willis O'Brien had put together for an abandoned dinosaur project, he realized the special-effects wizard was the perfect person to bring his giant gorilla to life. O'Brien's work on the film took special effects to an entirely new level, paving the road for a number of subsequent classic films, including several created by Ray Harryhausen, who learned his craft working under O'Brien.
RKO released KING KONG in New York in 1933. At the time, it was the only film that had ever played by Radio City Music Hall and the RKO Roxy simultaneously. Audiences and critics were amazed, and KING KONG went on to make more than $1.7 million at the height of the Depression, single-handedly saving RKO from bankruptcy. Unfortunately, the studio mangled the prints in later releases, removing several sequences that were deemed too graphic or too suggestive for audiences. It was not until the 1960s that many of these scenes were restored.
In 1976, producer Dino De Laurentiis created a new version of KING KONG that featured make-up artist Rick Baker in a gorilla suit, along with a few sequences with a massively expensive mechanical Kong made by Carlo Rambaldi. The film was dismissed by critics, but managed to become a blockbuster and earn an Oscar for its visual effects.
Nearly three decades later, filmmaker Peter Jackson, hot off of his extraordinary feat of making The Lord of the Rings trilogy, decided to try for his own remake. He was determined to do everything right that De Laurentiis had done so very wrong. Jackson didn't want to just remake the 1933 classic; he wanted to pay loving homage to it. To do so, he teamed up with writers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, who had helped make his Tolkien trilogy such a critical and financial success. And he called upon the same special-effects and design teams that brought Middle Earth to life.
Jackson's film was released in 2005 to enormous critical praise and blockbuster crowds. Like the 1933 original, Jackson's film took special effects to a new level, using computer animation and performance elements by Andy Serkis (Gollum in The Lord of the Rings) to make Kong astonishingly realistic. The results were three Oscars (Best Visual Effects, Best Sound and Best Sound Effects Editing) and a domestic gross of more than $200 million.
Turner Classic Movies, currently seen in more than 75 million homes, is a 24-hour cable network from Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company. TCM presents the greatest motion pictures of all time from the largest film library in the world, the combined Time Warner and Turner film libraries, from the 1920s through the 1990s, uncut and commercial-free. The network also offers critically acclaimed original documentaries and specials, including the Martin Scorsese Presents: Val Lewton-The Man in the Shadows, the Emmy(R)-winning Stardust: The Bette Davis Story and the Emmy-nominated Brando. More information is available at tcm.com.
Turner Network Television (TNT), television's destination for drama and one of cable's top-rated networks, offers original movies and series, including the acclaimed and highly popular detective drama The Closer, starring Kyra Sedgwick; Saving Grace, starring Holly Hunter; Raising the Bar (working title), starring Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Gloria Reuben and Jane Kaczmarek; and Leverage, starring Timothy Hutton. TNT is also home to powerful one-hour dramas, such as Bones, Cold Case, Law & Order, Without a Trace, ER and Charmed; broadcast premiere movies; compelling prime-time specials, such as the Screen Actors Guild Awards(R); and championship sports coverage, including NASCAR and the NBA. TNT is available in high-definition.
TBS, a division of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., is television's top- rated comedy network. It serves as home to such original comedy series as My Boys, The Bill Engvall Show, Tyler Perry's House of Payne, 10 Items or Less and Frank TV; hot contemporary comedies like The Office, My Name is Earl, Sex and the City, Everybody Loves Raymond, Family Guy, King of Queens, Seinfeld and Friends; specials like Funniest Commercials of the Year; special events, such as The Comedy Festival in Las Vegas and Just For Laughs: A Very Funny Festival in Chicago; blockbuster movies; and hosted movie showcases.
Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company, creates and programs branded news, entertainment, animation and young adult media environments on television and other platforms for consumers around the world.
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