King Kong is a 1976 American monster adventure film produced by Dino De Laurentiis and directed by John Guillermin. It is a remake of the 1933 film of the same name about a giant ape that is captured and taken to New York City for exhibition. Featuring special effects by Carlo Rambaldi, it stars Jeff Bridges, Charles Grodin, and Jessica Lange in her first film role. It's the 5th entry in the King Kong franchise.
The idea to remake King Kong was conceived by Michael Eisner, who was then an ABC executive, in 1974. He separately proposed the idea to Universal Pictures CEO Sidney Sheinberg and Paramount Pictures CEO Barry Diller. Dino De Laurentiis quickly acquired the film rights from RKO-General and subsequently hired television writer Lorenzo Semple, Jr. to write the script. John Guillermin was hired as director and filming lasted from January to August 1976. Before the film's release, Universal Pictures sued De Laurentiis and RKO-General alleging breach of contract, and attempted to develop their own remake of King Kong. In response, De Laurentiis and RKO-General filed separate countersuits against Universal Pictures, all of which were withdrawn by January 1976.
The film was released on December 17, 1976, to mixed reviews from film critics, but was a box office success. It won a noncompetitive Special Achievement Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, and was also nominated for Best Cinematography and Best Sound. Of the three King Kong main films, it is the only one to feature the World Trade Center instead of the Empire State Building. A sequel titled King Kong Lives was released in 1986.
In the 1970s, Fred Wilson, an executive of the Petrox Oil Company, forms an expedition based on infrared imagery which reveals a previously undiscovered Indian Ocean island hidden by a permanent cloud bank. Wilson believes the island has a huge deposit of oil. Jack Prescott, a primate paleontologist, sneaks onto the expedition's vessel and attempts to warn the team against traveling to the island, citing an ominous final message about "the roar of the greatest beast" from previous doomed explorers. Wilson orders Prescott locked up, claiming that he is really a spy from a rival corporation. The ship happens upon a life raft which carries the beautiful and unconscious Dwan. Upon waking, Dwan tells Prescott that she is an aspiring actress who was aboard a director's yacht which suddenly exploded. During the rest of the ship's voyage, Prescott and Dwan become attracted to each other.
Upon arriving at the island, the team discovers a primitive tribe of natives who live within the confines of a gigantic wall, built to protect them from a mysterious god known as Kong. The team finds that while there is a large deposit of oil, it is of such low quality that it is unusable. The natives kidnap Dwan, drug her, and offer her as a sacrifice to Kong. A monumental ape grabs Dwan from the altar and departs back into the jungle.
Although an awesome and terrifying sight, the soft-hearted Kong quickly becomes tamed by Dwan, whose rambling monologue calms and fascinates the monstrous beast. After she falls in the mud, Kong takes Dwan back to a waterfall to wash herself, and then uses great gusts of his warm breath to dry her.
In the meantime, Prescott and First Mate Carnahan lead a rescue mission to save Dwan. The rescue party encounters Kong while crossing a log bridge, and Kong rolls the huge log, sending Carnahan and the rest of the sailors falling to their deaths. Prescott and Boan are the only ones to survive. Kong takes Dwan to his lair. A giant snake appears and attacks the pair, and while Kong dispatches the snake, Prescott escapes with Dwan. Kong chases the pair back to the native village, only to fall into a pit trap and be smothered with chloroform.
Without any of the promised new oil, Wilson decides to transport Kong to America as a promotional gimmick for his company. When they finally reach New York City, Kong is put on display in a beauty and the beast farce, bound in chains with a large crown on his head. When Kong sees a group of reporters crowding around Dwan, hoping for interviews, the ape breaks free of his bonds and goes on a rampage throughout the city. Wilson trips while running away and Kong steps on him, killing him instantly. The ape also destroys an elevated train in his search for Dwan. Prescott and Dwan flee across the Queensboro Bridge to Manhattan while Kong pursues them. At an abandoned Manhattan bar, Prescott calls the military and tells them to let Kong climb to the top of the World Trade Center. Kong locates Dwan and she allows him to take her; he begins to make his way to the World Trade Center, with Jack and the military in hot pursuit.
In the climax, Kong climbs the South Tower of the World Trade Center. After being attacked by men with flamethrowers while standing on the roof, Kong flees by leaping across to the North Tower. Later, he is attacked by military helicopters while Dwan is trying to stop them. The fatally injured Kong falls from the roof to the World Trade Center plaza, where he dies from his injuries. Dwan is bombarded by a sea of photographers. The crowd is so big, though, that Dwan can't even get close to Jack. She stands still and is photographed relentlessly by reporters while Kong lies dead in a pool of blood and broken concrete.