King Kong

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King Kong
Directed by Merian C. Cooper
Ernest B. Schoedsack
Produced by Merian C. Cooper
Ernest B. Schoedsack
Written by James Creelman
Ruth Rose
Starring Robert Armstrong
Bruce Cabot
Fay Wray
Music by Max Steiner
Cinematography Eddie Linden
Vernon Walker
J.O. Taylor
Editing by Ted Chessman
Production company Radio Pictures
Distributed by Radio Pictures
Release date(s) March 2, 1933
Running time 100 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $672,000
Gross revenue $2.8 million
Followed by Son of Kong
IMDb profile

King Kong is a 1933 film (made prior to the establishment of the Hays Code in 1934) about a giant prehistoric gorilla, the movie's title character, that lives on Skull Island. The movie premiered on March 2, 1933 at two theatres in New York City, Radio City Music Hall and the RKO Roxy, followed by a Los Angeles premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on March 23 and then a general release on April 10 of that year. It was one of the first notable movies to make use of stop-motion animation special effects, decades before the advent and use of CGI digital technology for movie and television special effects.


A group of explorers, led by filmmaker Carl Denham, and including actress Ann Darrow, travel to the island where Ann is captured by the natives and sacrificed to King Kong. The giant gorilla captures her and takes her back to his cave, but on the way there he fights and kills a Tyrannosaurus Rex (and breaks its jaw), a giant Elasmosaur and a Pteranodon when each prehistoric beast tried to attack Ann. Eventually her lover, Jack Driscoll (the ship's first mate) finds her and gets her back, but Kong follows and, after a rampage where he kills several of the natives, is knocked unconscious with gas grenades and captured. They take him to New York City and put him on public display at a large theatre, but when he is startled by the flash-bulbs of the reporters trying to get a picture of Ann, he goes berserk, escapes from the theatre and goes on a rampage in the streets, killing several people. After mistaking another woman for Ann and then dropping her to her death in the street below, Kong captures Ann at a hotel, then destroys an elevated train and kills many of its passengers before he takes her to the top of the Empire State Building, where he is gunned down by biplanes and falls to his death.


King Kong holds Ann Darrow as he sits on a ledge of the Empire State Building in the 2005 version of King Kong, directed by Peter Jackson.
King Kong was a success for its production company Radio Pictures (later RKO Radio Pictures), earning $2.8 million in its initial release (adjusted for inflation to over $66 million in 2023 dollars) and was re-released in 1938, 1942, 1946, 1952 and 1956, with cuts made to the movie for violent and gruesome scenes in those later re-releases due to the Hays Code. It was followed by a sequel, Son of Kong released later in 1933, then made appearances in two Japanese films from Toho Studios, King Kong vs. Godzilla and King Kong Escapes (both distributed in North America by Universal Studios), and was remade twice; once in 1976 by director Dino de Laurentiis for Paramount Pictures (with stuntman Rick Baker donning a King Kong suit to play the giant ape), and again in 2005 by director Peter Jackson for Universal (with actor Andy Serkis playing Kong via motion-capture and rendered via CGI into Kong's appearance). A less-successful sequel to the 1976 King Kong film, King Kong Lives, was made by De Laurentiis Entertainment Group in 1986. Another movie in the King Kong franchise (as well as the second film in Legendary Pictures' MonsterVerse franchise), Kong: Skull Island, produced by Legendary and Warner Bros. (which assumed co-production after Legendary moved production of the film from Universal), had its world premiere in London on February 28, 2017 and premiered in North America on March 10, 2017. Another Kong movie from Legendary and Warner Bros., Godzilla vs. Kong, premiered in the United States on March 31, 2021, with a planned sequel for that movie, titled Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, announced to be released on March 15, 2024. The original movie was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 1991. A digital restoration of the movie, with all previously-cut scenes restored, was released by Warner Bros. on DVD in 2005 and on Blu-ray in 2010.


  • Fay Wray as Ann Darrow
  • Robert Armstrong as Carl Denham
  • Bruce Cabot as Jack Driscoll
  • Frank Reicher as Captain Englehorn
  • Noble Johnson as the Skull Island Native Chief
  • Steve Clemente as the Skull Island Witch Doctor
  • James Flavin as Briggs
  • Sam Hardy as Charles Weston
  • Victor Wong as Charlie the Cook (uncredited)
  • Everett Brown as the Native in Ape Costume (uncredited)

External links