King Kong Roars Back to Life at Universal Studios Hollywood

Online editor Monica Poling blogs from the media preview of King Kong 360 3-D By: Monica Poling
King Kong 360 3-D Created by Peter Jackson opens July 1 // (c) 2010 Universal Studios Hollywood
King Kong 360 3-D Created by Peter Jackson opens July 1 // (c) 2010 Universal Studios Hollywood

I realize that with the advent of 3-D televisions and such blockbuster 3-D films like "Avatar," I’ll sound hopelessly uncool when I say I’m not a big fan of the technology. True, it is still emerging, but there’s only so many times you can be amazed by things poking out at you. To further reveal just how unhip I am, the last time I was wowed over 3-D, was back in Michael Jackson’s “Captain EO” days.

That said, however, I was still looking forward to seeing Universal Studios Hollywood’s release of “King Kong 360 3-D,” being billed “the world’s largest, most intense 3-D experience.” I was a big fan of Universal’s previous King Kong exhibit, which sadly was a casualty of the fire that struck Universal’s backlot two years ago.

Seems I’m not alone. When speaking to the media at today’s press preview, Larry Kurzweil, president, Universal Studios Hollywood, said that within hours of Universal’s devastating fire, the phone calls started rolling in, asking what Universal Studios planned to do to replace King Kong.

In true Universal Studios fashion, the studio called in Peter Jackson, director of the Academy Award-winning 2005 film to create a newer, more spectacular King Kong.

After two years of hearing talk of immersive technologies and cutting-edge sound systems, as well as seeing the occasional preview snippet, I was more than ready for today’s launch of the all new King Kong. Coaching myself to squash the inner critic that always seems to say “was that it?” when watching 3-D, I came with high expectations to today’s media and VIP unveiling.

My first ride through – King Kong 360 3-D is part of Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tours tram – left my inner critic with her mouth hanging open. The action literally happens all around the tram, with the 3-D effects having me fully believing that I was driving through Shell Island on the verge of being attacked by dinosaurs.

When the 35 foot dinosaur snarled at us – hurling requisite spit our way – I actually cried “oh gross” out loud, it was that real. The 3-D action, involving a violent scuffle between King Kong and the dinosaurs, takes place on both sides of the tram, on enormous screens that are the equivalent of 16 conventional movie screens. So big and real are the effects, that when King Kong “jumps” on top of the tram, guests truly feel and hear him walking above them, even though the action is implied.

King Kong has been a beloved Hollywood icon, ever since he first appeared on the big screen in the 1933 original classic. Re-made twice, the film has earned a total of seven Oscar and three Golden Globe nominations. Most recently, Peter Jackson's 2005 version took classic elements of the original "King Kong" story and added the adrenaline that can only come with current Hollywood special-effects magic.

King Kong 360 3-D opens to the public on July 1, ensuring that King Kong will remain an icon for generations to come.

Universal Studios Hollywood

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