King Kong (1976)
The remake of 1976 was just as ambitious as the original, using real oil tankers and ships and a full scale 12m tall Kong robot designed by Carlo Rambaldi, the largest mechanical creature ever built (Bahrenburg 1976). However due to difficulties controlling this robot it was only used in a few scenes, such as Kong’s unveiling to the public in New York. Most of the footage of Kong was of Rick Baker (uncredited) in an ape suite designed by Rock Baker, composited into the film using a blue-screen. The suite was enhanced with seven masks, designed by Rick Baker and Carlo Rambaldi that used animatronics to convey various emotions.
King Kong from 1976 looked more human like due to being played by a man in a suite. Although still a ‘monster’ he no longer ate people and his feelings were reciprocated in both ‘Dwan’ and Jack in one of cinemas most bizarre love triangles.
The masks were made of plastic skulls with artificial, cable activated muscles and latex. Rick Baker also wore Gorilla like contact lenses (Wikiab 2011). Although the ape suite wasn’t the preferred choice, by using the sophisticated masks, and the hand and arm from the robot for close ups with ‘Dwan’ Kong appeared realistic and fooled some viewers into thinking it was the much advertised full scale robot (Black Hole Reviews 2008). Kong’s ape suite preceded that of Chewbacca in Star Wars (1977) which also was regarded as a convincing character (Claydon 2005).
King Kong (1976) received an Academy Award for Best Special Effects, an award that hadn’t started when king Kong (1933) was released. NBC paid De Laurentiis $19.5 million for the rights to two showings of the film on television over five years; the highest amount any network had ever paid for a film at that time (Wikia 2011b).