Spin-offs, sequels, remakes and the Japan connection
Since the original movie came out, there have been various sequels, remakes and spin-offs. A sequel to King Kong was made just nine months after the release of the original movie and was titled Son of Kong. It did not feature the original giant ape and instead focused on a smaller albino ape that the main characters of the movie assume was Kong’s son. While the movie had some moderate success for its time, it just wasn’t the same movie without the original giant ape in it.
It would be almost 30 years later that we would once more see King Kong on the giant screen, this time, though, it wasn’t Hollywood that would revive him but Japan. Now by then, Japan already had its own famous movie monster in the form of Godzilla (who itself was inspired by King Kong), but the popularity of the original movie meant that we would get to see these two titans face-off in battle. And so they did in the movie King Kong vs. Godzilla which was released in 1962.
With King Kong vs Godzilla’s popularity and box office success of the movie, another Japanese King Kong movie was made in 1967, this time called King Kong Escapes. In it, Kong battles various other giant monsters, as well as robot version of himself, called Mechani-Kong. It didn’t enjoy as much success as the King Kong vs. Godzilla though, and that would also be the last time we’d see a Japanese version of King Kong.
It would be in 1976 that we would then see Kong return to Hollywood’s hands with a remake. The movie starring Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange, kept the main plot of the original 1933 movie intact, with some changes here and there. However, the basic premise (as we mentioned above) remained unchanged. The movie would go on to be a box office success, on top of getting nominated for three Oscars and winning one of it.
Unfortunately, though, the remake would be followed up with an uninspiring and low-budgeted sequel in 1986 called King Kong Lives. And while the 1976 remake managed to bag an Oscar, King Kong Lives, however, managed to earn itself a Razzie, the award for really horrible movies. After that, we would not see Kong on the silver screen again for almost 20 years.
That didn’t mean the giant ape would disappear from our collective consciousness, though. King Kong by then had become too iconic just to disappear. He’s been seen in comics, television and video games. He even has his own theme park ride in Universal Studios.
However, Kong has always belonged to the big screen, and when we once more saw his giant frame grace movie theatres, it was in 2005 with Peter Jackson’s take on the giant ape. Unlike the 1976 movie, Peter Jackson decided to keep the original plot and characters. What resulted was a brilliant retake on the original King Kong movie.
Like the 1976 remake, it was lauded by both critics and fans and managed to top its predecessor with three Oscar wins. It seems that despite being decades old, King Kong was still as popular as ever.