King Kong makes his return to the big screen this weekend with Skull Island. The giant ape has starred in over 10 movies beginning with the 1933 classic. The original movie was so important and impactful at the time that it is currently preserved in the National Film Registry. The original’s charm and use of stop-motion animation may never be duplicated, although many have tried.
Just nine months after the 1933 classic another Kong film Son Of Kong was released. Something like that would never happen today. Today a film goes through so many changes and edits that most of the time we know the entire plot based on the trailer. Clearly the movie studio wanted to capitalize on the success of the original movie.
After that Kong took a short rest before reemerging in 1962 in the greatest monster battle of all time King Kong vs. Godzilla. That film of course featured the two famous monsters battling it out to see who was truly king. Among monster movie fans this is still regarded as a classic. If only this movie could be updated with today’s technology. We’ll get to that a little later.
After the success of “King Kong vs. Godzilla,” Kong appeared in another Japanese monster movie, King Kong Escapes in 1967. I’ve had the experience of sitting down and watching this movie and, boy, is it boring. Don’t get me wrong – watching King Kong fight a robotic version of himself was enjoyable, but that fight ends the movie and doesn’t last long.
Kong returned to the U.S. with a remake in 1976. The film received mixed reviews but was a commercial success. The film earned back triple its budget. This movie had a direct sequel King Kong Lives in 1986. Unlike its 1976 counterpart, King Kong Lives was a flop at the box office only grossing $4.7 million. The films budget was around $18 million.
Kong made his debut in the new millennium in another remake of the 1933 classic in 2005. This film featured many of the same plot details as the original with a ship ending up on Skull Island. This film features many different creatures besides Kong and looks visually stunning. The one issue with this movie is the run time that comes in around 3 hours. This film was well reviewed and did well at the box office.
Finally we get to Skull Island which will be released this weekend.
Depending on who you ask, King Kong has appeared in 10 to 14 movies. The issue here is which studio has the rights and if you count unauthorized movies or not. Regardless, King Kong has been appearing in movies for over 80 years. Not many other characters can say that. Staying in the monster genre, Godzilla has appeared in 31 movies spanning about 60 years.
According to Fandango, the “Carry On” movies are the longest running movie franchises with 31 movies. That Series features 31 low-budget comedy films released between 1958 – 1992. With two more Godzilla films scheduled to release in the next four years, the title of longest-running movie franchise will go to Godzilla. A giant radioactive lizard will be the main character of the longest-running movie franchise ever. Let that sink in.
The reason I bring Godzilla up is because Skull Island will be the second film in Legendary Pictures MonsterVerse. Think of it as the Marvel cinematic universe but for monsters. This universe will continue in 2019 with another Godzilla movie and then finally we get a remake of the greatest monster battle of all time with Godzilla vs. Kong in 2020.
The future looks promising for giant monster movies. Skull Island is getting good reviews and is expected to be number 1 at the box office this weekend. Remember, if someone is embarrassed to go see Skull Island with you, just remind them you’re not going to watch a giant ape – you’re going to watch a legendary character make his return to the big screen.
By Michael Obrecki