Tuner Networks Celebrate King Kong

Basic cable networks TBS,TNT and Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will celebrate the 75th anniversary of a certain giant, animated ape that scaled the Empire State Building and left an indelible mark on pop culture around the world. TCM will kick things off on Monday, April 7 with an 8 p.m. (ET/PT) presentation of the original 1933 classic starring Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong and Bruce Cabot. Then on Friday, April 11 at 8 p.m., it’s Naomi Watts, Jack Black and Adrien Brody having monkey trouble as TNT and TBS simulcast director Peter Jackson’s Oscar-winning 2005 remake.

King Kong is the story of an overgrown ape discovered on a remote island by maverick filmmaker Carl Denham. When his leading lady, Ann Darrow, is captured by natives and offered as a sacrifice to the mighty Kong, Denham and his crew set out on a daring rescue mission, encountering dinosaurs and other deadly obstacles on the island that time forgot. The second half of the film takes place in New York City, where Kong escapes his captors and rampages through the streets. The original telling of the story grossed than $1.7 million at the height of the Great Depression and single-handedly saved RKO from bankruptcy.

In Merian C. Cooper’s ’33 version, Kong and the other prehistoric inhabitants of Skull Island were animated with stop-motion by special effects pioneer Willis O’brien. A ’76 remake by Dino DeLaurentiis featured make-up artist Rick Baker in a monkey suit, while Jackson’s version marks a return to animation with his Weta Digital handling the extensive CG work.

Following the April 11 simulcast of Jackson’s blockbuster, TNT will present encores on Saturday, April 12 and Sunday, April 13 at 8 p.m. (ET/PT). TCM will follow its April 7 presentation of the 1933 film with four other movie classics celebrating their 75th anniversary: Dinner at Eight at 10 p.m., Little Women at midnight, 42nd Street at 2 a.m. and Queen Christina at 3:45 a.m.

As a build-up to the network television premiere of Jackson’s Kong, TNT will air all three of the director’s Oscar-winning The Lord of the Rings films the weekend prior. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring will air Friday, April 4 at 8 p.m., followed by The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers on Saturday, April 5 at 8 p.m. and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King on Sunday, April 6 at 8 p.m.