With the original film debuting in 1933, and three remakes since, King Kong is a legend that will seemingly never die. In the original movie, filmmaker Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) and his crew travel to Skull Island to finish a film, not knowing what they will encounter. There, they discover a giant gorilla known by the natives as Kong. King Kong falls in love with beautiful actress Ann Darrow (played by Fay Wray), and carries her off into the jungle with him.
The crew, including jack Driscoll (Bruce Cabot)—who is in love with Ann—hikes into the jungle to save her. Carl Denham goes in hopes of capturing the beast for his own profit. They encounter all types of dangers and creatures, finally capturing King Kong and bringing him back to New York City to be used as a spectacle in a Broadway show. However, during the show, the Gorilla is angered and escapes, terrorizing the City of New York, in search of Ann Darrow.
Three remakes followed the original film in both 1976, 2005, and 2017. The 1976 version, starring Jessica Lange, Jeff Bridges and Charles Grodin, strayed from the original plot in some ways. The crew in this film is not on the island to film a movie, but rather to exploit oil. The 2005 version, directed by Peter Jackson, revisits the original King Kong plot, with an all-star cast featuring Jack Black as Carl Denham, Naomi Watts as Ann Darrow, and Adrien Brody as Jack Driscoll. Exceeding expectations, the movie won three Oscars. Most recently, Kong: Skull Island, starring Tom Hardy, Brie Larson, John Goodman, and Samuel L. Jackson, takes place entirely on Skull Island in the 1970s. The latest film is set to be part of the larger cinematic universe of monsters with Godzilla and Kong facing off in 2020.
Relive this classic film on either the TCM Classic Film Tour or the NYC TV & Movie Tour. While the New York scenes were filmed in a studio for both the original film (in California) and the 2005 remake (in Wellington, New Zealand), you will recognize many of the locations featured in both of the films. The New York scenes in the 1976 film were actually shot in Manhattan. King Kong also has a presence in Manhattan in the brand new Broadway musical, starring a huge puppet animatronic as the title character.
A memorable scene in both the original and the 2005 remake shows Kong tearing through a busy Times Square. An ad for Universal Pictures is visible while Kong is causing his chaos to pedestrians, cabbies, and bystanders. In the original 1933 film, an ad for Columbia Pictures appeared in the same spot, and the production designers replicated it, but Columbia asked for a large amount of money for its use, so effects artists replaced it.
Our Central Park TV & Movie Sites Tour will take you through Central Park, where Ann Darrow and Kong shared a fun, private moment in the 2005 remake, with the two of them sliding across the ice of the frozen lake, briefly escaping the chaos of the hunt that is going on throughout the city for Kong.
The original script initially called for Kong to be displayed at (and escape from) Yankee Stadium; this was changed to an elaborate theater for the completed film. By sheer coincidence, the 1976 remake version had the King Kong premiere scene in Shea Stadium.
Don’t miss the New York Public Library, which Kong uses as a hiding spot on his way down Fifth Avenue in the 1976 remake. The New York Public Library is one of the leading public libraries of the world and is one of the United States’ most significant research libraries. The NYPL has frequently appeared in feature films, serving as the backdrop for a central plot development in Spider-Man and as a major location in the 2004 apocalyptic science fiction film The Day After Tomorrow. In the 1978 film, The Wiz, Dorothy and Toto stumble across the Library and one of the Library Lions comes alive and joins them on their journey out of Oz. The NYPL is also the location of Carrie and Big’s would-be wedding in Sex and the City: The Movie.
In both the original and the 2005 remake, Kong meets his famous end atop the Empire State Building, located at 350 Fifth Avenue at 34thStreet. The Empire State Building was the first building to have more than 100 floors. Its observation deck is one of the most popular attractions for Manhattan visitors. This famous building was also featured in other films like Sleepless in Seattle, An Affair to Remember, and Independence Day.
However, in the 1976 film, Kong actually climbed the South Tower of the World Trade Center, both towers of which were destroyed on September 11, 2001. On one of the nights of filming Kong’s death at the World Trade Center, over 30,000 people showed up at the site to be extras for the scene. Although the crowd was well behaved, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey became concerned that the weight of so many people would cause the plaza to collapse, and ordered the producers to shut down the filming. Luckily, the film makers had already gotten the shot they wanted of the large crowd rushing toward Kong’s body.
King Kong premiered in New York City on March 2, 1933 at Radio City Music Hall, another famous New York City locale. For a time, the theater was the leading tourist destination in the city, with more than 300 million people have attended its stage shows, movies, concerts and special events. It is the largest indoor theater in the world and the interior was declared a city landmark in 1978.
On the NYC TV & Movie Tour, you’ll not only get a tour of Manhattan movie sites, but a fabulous tour of the city, showing you why the Big Apple is built for a king.
* In an effort to stay current, we are constantly updating our tours with new locations and cannot guarantee the presence of locations mentioned on our site. If you have a particular interest in locations from a specific TV show or movie, please let your tour guide know and we will do our best to accommodate your request.