Peter Jackson Takes on Kong

Years ago, Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson expressed his desire to remake the 1933 classic monster movie King Kong. Over the weekend, Universal Pictures Chairman Stacey Snider made it official, announcing that the five-time Academy Award nominee will direct the picture for the studio.

Jackson will begin work on the film immediately following the release of The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King, the third and final installment of his blockbuster trilogy based on the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien. Jackson will write the screenplay with his partner Fran Walsh and Lord Of The Rings co-writer Philippa Boyens. Jackson and Walsh will produce the film under their WingNut Films banner. Universal Pictures will release King Kong worldwide in 2005.

The screenplay by Jackson, Walsh and Boyens is based on the original story by Merian C. Cooper and Edgar Wallace and is even set in the 1930s, as opposed to updating the story to present time as Dino Delaurentis did in his 1976 remake.

As with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Jackson will shoot Kong on location in his native New Zealand. The visual effects will be again accomplished by his Oscar-winning New Zealand-based company Weta, Ltd.

In a release, Jackson states, “No film has captivated my imagination more than King Kong. I’m making movies today because I saw this film when I was 9 years old. It has been my sustained dream to reinterpret this classic story for a new age.”

In the original King Kong, which just celebrated its 70th anniversary, the title giant ape was brought to life by stop-motion animator Willis O’Brien. The ’76 remake used make-up artist Rick Baker in an ape suit, while Jackson’s version will undoubtedly employ CG creature effects.