UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif., March 30 /PRNewswire/ — Five-time Academy Award(R) nominee Peter Jackson will direct “King Kong” for Universal Pictures, it was announced today by Stacey Snider, Chairman, Universal Pictures. 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 upon the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien. Jackson will write the screenplay with his partner Fran Walsh and “The 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.
Jackson will bring his sweeping cinematic vision to the iconic story of the gigantic ape-monster captured in the wilds and brought to civilization where he meets his tragic fate.
The screenplay by Jackson, Walsh and Boyens is based on the original story by Merian C. Cooper and Edgar Wallace, which became the classic 1933 RKO Radio Pictures film, directed by adventurers Cooper and Ernest B. Schoesdack. The RKO “King Kong” has been designated by the National Film Registry of the United States Library of Congress as one of the 100 Greatest Films and chosen by that organization for permanent preservation as a national treasure.
Jackson will employ the latest motion picture technology to cinematically portray the timeless tale of the beast and his beauty. He will expand on the chapters of the tale that take place in the mysterious and dangerous jungles of Skull Island, and his Kong promises to be a unique and breathtaking creation. As with his “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, Jackson will shoot “King Kong” on location in his native New Zealand. The visual effects will be again accomplished by his New Zealand-based company Weta, Ltd., who have twice been honored with the Visual Effects Oscar(R) for their work on “The Lord Of The Rings.” They will supplement practical locations in creating primordial jungles and ’30s-period America.
“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,” Jackson stated. “The story of Kong offers everything that any storyteller could hope for: an archetypal narrative, thrilling action, resonating emotion and memorable characters. It has endured for precisely these reasons and I am honored to be a part of its continuing legacy.”
Snider noted, “Peter Jackson is a filmmaker uniquely capable of capturing the core appeal of enduring classics and in expanding the visual language of motion pictures, as inarguably evidenced in his landmark achievement with the ‘Lord of the Rings’ films. We are thrilled to be working with Peter and Fran, and we are confident that their execution of ‘King Kong’ will amaze moviegoers. Anyone who has seen the first two installments of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ knows that Peter will bring Kong to life as a real character. His vision for the tragic tale of the misunderstood creature, with its poignant character development and technological wonder, will make ‘King Kong’ compulsory viewing for any real movie lover.”
Peter Jackson made cinematic history with “The Lord of the Rings,” becoming the first person to direct three major feature films simultaneously. Released in 2001, the first film in the trilogy, “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” was nominated for 13 Academy Awards, including Best Director, and won four. The film also received the American Film Institute’s prestigious Film Award and was nominated for 12 awards from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), winning awards for Best Film and garnering Jackson the David Lean Award for direction. In addition to four Golden Globe nominations, the film also received numerous distinctions and awards around the world. The second installment, “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,” earned six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. It won two Oscars and two BAFTA Awards. The final installment, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” will be released this December.
Jackson and Walsh previously received widespread acclaim for their 1994 feature “Heavenly Creatures,” which was awarded a Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival and an Academy Award(R) nomination for Best Screenplay. Other film credits include “The Frighteners” starring Michael J. Fox, the adult puppet feature “Meet the Feebles,” the mockumentary “Forgotten Silver and Braindead.”
Universal Pictures is a division of Vivendi UNIVERSAL Entertainment (VUE) ( www.universalstudios.com ), the U.S.-based film, television and recreation entity of Vivendi Universal, a global media and communications company.
SOURCE Universal Pictures
CO: Universal Pictures; Vivendi UNIVERSAL Entertainment; VUE; Weta, Ltd.
ST: California, New Zealand