Friday July 31, 2009
King Kong 1, 2 and 3?
“The battle of the sequels continues ad naseum. No sooner did That's Entertainment, Part 2 open than serious negotiations for That's Entertainment, Part 3 began. Meanwhile, Dino De Laurentis not only has King Kong 2 on the boards before the premier of the first King Kong but even has a hat trick in mind, and is offering Jeff Bridges $1 million to perform in King Kong 1, 2 and 3.”
—New Times magazine, May 28, 1976 (cover story: “Demystifying Jerry Brown: The politics beyond the lotus position,” by Robert Scheer).
Kong is now known as such a bomb that I laughed when I read this—and was equally amused by the magazine's futzing over harmless That's Entertainment sequels—but it turns out that not only was King Kong the no. 3 movie in America in 1976 but a sequel was made. It's called King Kong Lives and it came out 10 years later, in 1986, produced, yes, by De Laurentis (who, in the interim, had produced Orca, Flash Gordon, Ragtime, Dune and the Conan movies) and directed by the same director, John Guillerman (who, in the interim, had directed Death on the Nile, Mr. Patman and Sheena). The corrected summary from IMDb: “The giant ape, King Kong, who was shot and fell off the World Trade Center, has been in a coma for 10 years and desperately needs a blood transfusion in order to have an artificial heart implanted. Suddenly, in the rainforest, another gigantic ape is found—this time a female... ” It was Guillerman's last feature film. De Laurentis lives, he's 90 this year, and is still producing movies.
Oh, and the sequel-mania that New Times feared came from the no. 1 movie (and best-picture winner) that year: Rocky. A year later, Star Wars was released, and we were off to the races.