The Kong that would be king
You recently read our coverage on TG Daily about Sensurround, the sound gimmick that was first used in Earthquake to try and simulate a real earthshaker in the theaters.
Sensurround was only used in three more movies, Midway, Rollercoaster, and the big screen version of Battlestar Galactica, before it was abandoned in 1979.
But funny enough, not long after I filed my report, I learned another movie was intended to be in Sensurround, I knew I had heard / read this somewhere before, and it dialed into another interest of mine, unmade movies and what could, should, and would have been.
Today we see movies with competing story lines and concepts go to battle against each other all the time. 1997 had two volcano movies going head to head, 1998 had two asteroid movies, way back in 1981 two werewolf flicks with American Werewolf and The Howling, and I think four fraternity movies the same year as Animal House. (Whoever can name them today definitely wins the Daily Double on Jeopardy.)
And back in 1975 there was a big game of chicken to see what would be the first King Kong remake to make it to the theaters. Of course, the King Kong that wound up on the big screen was the brainchild of legendary producer Dino De Laurentiis, who was determined to get his Kong, (or as he’d say in his fractured Italian accent, "My Konk…") on the screen before Universal did theirs.
There was apparently some confusion about the rights, both studios thought they had the rights, and it was finally settled in Paramount’s favor. According to The Last Mogul, the biography of former Universal chairman Lew Wasserman, Universal’s settlement in the deal eventually lead to the King Kong ride at the studio. (Apparently Roger Corman also tried to sneak a Kong of his own through believing the rights were public domain.)
According to Ray Morton’s book, King Kong: The History of a Movie Icon, Universal thought Kong would be a perfect follow up to Jaws, and as De Laurentiis’s autobiography notes, he figured if he could make a monster movie like Jaws, but not so scary that kids couldn’t see it, he’d have an even bigger movie. Well, it didn’t quite work out that way, although the movie did well in spite of dreadful reviews. But Peter Jackson’s King Kong was in many ways Jackson trying to right Kong’s legacy from the last film - with at least one person who read the Legend script wishing that version was the one which had made it to the big screen.
The script for The Legend of King Kong was written by Bo Goldman, who won the Academy Award for adapting One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and unlike the modernized ’76 version, was set in the ‘30’s like the original.
The Legend of King Kong was also going to be directed by Joseph Sargent, who had just helmed The Taking of Pelham 1, 2, 3, and also did the terrific sci-fi film Colossus, about a mad computer that takes over the world - and was reportedly the inspiration for Skynet in Terminator.
Even with a lot of great talent attached to a movie, you don’t know 100% how it’s going to turn out, but you’d sure like to believe this Kong definitely had a shot.