King Kong Franchise (1933–present)
King Kong is an American media franchise featuring King Kong, a character initially created by Merian C. Cooper at RKO Radio Pictures and now owned by Warner Bros. (owners of 1933 film), Universal Pictures (owners of 2005 film) with more recent films being licensed to Legendary Pictures for production with Warner Bros. handling distribution. Films featuring Kong over the years are currently owned by various studios, including Toho, Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, and Warner Bros. The film franchise consists of twelve monster films, including seven Hollywood films, two Japanese kaiju films produced by Toho, and the first three direct-to-video animated films.
The first film, King Kong, was directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack and released by Radio Pictures in 1933 and became an influential classic of the genre. Toho was later inspired to make the original Godzilla after the commercial success of the 1952 re-release of King Kong and the success of The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953). The success of King Kong would go on to inspire other monster films worldwide.
The popularity of the films has led to the franchise expanding to other media, such as television, music, literature and video games. King Kong has been one of the most recognizable symbols in American pop culture worldwide and remains a well-known facet of American films. The character of King Kong has become one of the world’s most famous movie icons, having inspired a number of sequels, remakes, spin-offs, imitators, parodies, cartoons, books, comics, video games, theme park rides, and a stage play. His role in the different narratives varies, ranging from a rampaging monster to a tragic antihero.
Following the release of the original film, a sequel was produced that same year with Son of Kong, featuring Little Kong. In the 1960s, Toho produced King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), pitting a larger Kong against Toho’s own Godzilla, and King Kong Escapes (1967), based on The King Kong Show (1966–1969) from Rankin/Bass Productions and pitting Kong against Mechani-Kong and Gorosaurus. In 1976, Dino De Laurentiis produced a modern remake of the original film directed by John Guillermin. A sequel, King Kong Lives, followed a decade later featuring a Lady Kong.
Another remake of the original, this time set in 1933, was released in 2005 from filmmaker Peter Jackson. The second-most recent film, Kong: Skull Island (2017), is a reboot set in 1973 and is part of Legendary Entertainment‘s MonsterVerse, which began with Legendary’s reboot of Godzilla in 2014 and continuing with Godzilla: King of the Monsters in 2019, in which Kong made multiple guest appearances, and a second crossover sequel, Godzilla vs. Kong, released in 2021, once again pitted the characters against one another.
|#||Film||U.S. release date||Director(s)||Story by||Screenwriter(s)||Producer(s)||Distributor(s)|
|1||King Kong||March 2, 1933||Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack||Edgar Wallace and Merian C. Cooper||James Creelman and Ruth Rose||Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack||Radio Pictures|
|2||Son of Kong||December 22, 1933||Ernest B. Schoedsack||Ruth Rose||Ernest B. Schoedsack|
|3||King Kong vs. Godzilla||August 11, 1962||Ishirō Honda (Japan)|
Thomas Montgomery (U.S.)
|Shinichi Sekizawa||Tomoyuki Tanaka (Japan)|
John Beck (U.S.)
Universal International (U.S.)
|4||King Kong Escapes||July 22, 1967||Ishirō Honda||Arthur Rankin Jr.||Kaoru Mabuchi||Tomoyuki Tanaka and Arthur Rankin Jr.|
|5||King Kong||December 17, 1976||John Guillermin||Lorenzo Semple Jr.||Dino De Laurentiis||Paramount Pictures|
|6||King Kong Lives||December 19, 1986||Ronald Shusett and Steven Pressfield||Martha Schumacher||De Laurentiis Entertainment Group|
|7||The Mighty Kong||June 16, 1998||Art Scott||William J. Keenan||Denis deVallance|
|8||Kong: King of Atlantis||November 22, 2005||Patrick Archibald||Patrick Archibald|
Sean Catherine Derek
|Sean Catherine Derek||Allen Bohbot||Bohbot Entertainment|
|9||King Kong||December 14, 2005||Peter Jackson||Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson||Jan Blenkin, Carolynne Cunningham, Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson||Universal Pictures|
|10||Kong: Return to the Jungle||November 14, 2006||Stuart Evans||Sean Catherine Derek|
|11||Kong: Skull Island||March 10, 2017||Jordan Vogt-Roberts||John Gatins||Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, and Derek Connolly||Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, Alex Garcia and Mary Parent||Warner Bros.|
|12||Godzilla vs. Kong||March 24, 2021||Adam Wingard||Terry Rossio, Michael Dougherty, and Zach Shields||Eric Pearson and Max Borenstein|