“[King Kong] surpasses anything of its type which has gone before it in commercial film-making. The work has many flaws, but they’re overcome by the general results. The errors will probably be overlooked… While not believing it, audiences will wonder how it’s done. If they wonder they’ll talk, and that talk plus the curiosity the advertising should incite ought to draw business all over. Kong mystifies as well as it horrifies, and may open up a new medium for scaring babies via the screen.” – Variety’s 1933 review of King Kong.
Released in 1933, Merian C. Cooper’s King Kong did indeed draw business all over. It’s opening at Radio City Music Hall saw every one of its ten shows sold out, with people queuing around the block to see the giant ape on screen. Tickets cost between 35 and 75 cents, and King Kong made just under $90,000 before its official premiere twenty days later at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood. Released by RKO Pictures, King Kong would spawn a sequel later that year with Son of Kong, and the ape would be licensed out to Japanese studio Toho for King Kong vs. Godzilla in 1962 and King Kong Escapes in 1967, followed by a 1976 remake by Dino De Lautentiis. To this day, King Kong vs. Godzilla is the highest grossing movie in the Godzilla franchise in its home country. However, all of these releases caused some legal concern over who actually owned the rights to the King Kong movie, name and character; something that would rear its head again when video games became popular.
Written for Flickering Myth. Read the rest of the article here.