King Kong | The 1976 blockbuster gets a 4k restoration release

From STUDIOCANAL comes the 4K restoration release of John Guillermin’s Academy Award-winning 1976 remake of the iconic classic King Kong, starring Jeff Bridges and introducing Jessica Lange in her film debut.

Available on 4K UHD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital, as well as a 4K UHD Steelbook (which will also include the Extended TV broadcast cut, unrestored) from 5 December 2022.

Primate palaeontologist Jack Prescott (Jeff Bridges) smuggles himself aboard an American-owned oil tanker, hoping to track down a rare species of monkey on a remote island in the South Pacific, but is soon discovered. After a violent storm, the expedition, led by Petrox oil executive Fred Wilson (Charles Grodin), also takes on a shipwreck survivor, aspiring actress Dwan (Jessica Lange). When the ship anchors off the island, the crew discovers the island’s indigenous inhabitants worship a monumental ape called ‘Kong’, and on seeing Dwan, kidnap her as an offering.

After rescuing Dwan and capturing Kong, Wilson orders the ship back to New York, where he hopes to use Kong as a publicity stunt for Petrox. But his Beauty and the Beast idea goes awry when Kong breaks out of his bonds and rampages the city before climaxing with a stand-off between Kong and the US military atop the twin towers of the World Trade Center…

King Kong was originally released over the Christmas period in 1976, and it was ‘THE’ blockbuster event of that year. I still have all the lobby cards and publicity materials from the cinema I saw it in (as well as press cuttings from its April 1980 TV release in Australia, see below), and remember very clearly my mum and my sister balling their eyes out on seeing Kong lying in a blood of blood after falling from the Twin Towers, and hearing his giant heartbeat fading away.

Kudos go to Rick Baker (uncredited at the time), who brought so much emotion just with his eyes inside his impressive monkey suit. The film remains one of my favourites, and my 12-year-old self was very aware, even at such a young age, of the subtle sexual overtones of the ‘waterfall shower scene’ between Kong and Jessica Lange, which ends with Kong drying Dwan with his breath.

While today’s SFX have come leaps and bounds, director Guillerman (whose Towering Inferno I saw 9 times on its original cinema release) and his team put so much love and attention into bringing Kong to life with what were state-of-the-art techniques back in 1976 – and it’s thrilling to see their handiwork once again in this newly restored release, especially Kong’s hydraulic arm and hand. One thing I did notice rewatching the epic adventure,is that Jessica’s Dwan is the film’s only female character (you couldn’t do that today).

Among the many excellent extras, I suggest tuning into Rick Baker’s commentary first as it tells you the real story behind the film’s production from Kong’s own mouth (so to speak).

• Extended TV broadcast cut (unrestored)

• Audio commentary with film historian Ray Morton
• Audio commentary with actor and makeup artist Rick Baker (THIS IS A MUST-LISTEN)
• Interview with Barry Nolan
• Interview with Bill Kronick
• Interview with Scott Thaler and Jeffrey Chernov
• Interview with David McGiffert and Brian E. Frankish
• Interview with Jack O’Halloran
• Interview with Steve Varner
• Deleted Scenes      
• Original Trailer

This 2022 restoration is presented by STUDIOCANAL and Paramount Pictures. The 35mm original negative was scanned in 4K and colour graded by Paramount, while the restoration and mastering were then carried out at L’Immagine Ritrovata under the supervision of STUDIOCANAL. A 4K DCP was created, as well as a UHD HDR Dolby Vision master, to enhance the sharpness and brightness in cinemas which is not usually possible with a standard HD master. In addition, there is a new, improved and cleaned-up 5.1 audio.



About Peter Fuller

Peter Fuller is an award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with a special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.

Posted on December 5, 2022, in Adventure, Must-See and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: