Released in 1933, the original King Kong dramatically changed the movie industry and its impact is still felt today. The original creature feature with a heart at its core, the film has been remade multiple times and the title character has been featured in spinoff movies like Kong: Skull Island and the upcoming Godzilla vs. Kong.
AUCTION PREVIEW: We at Heritage our proud to present three developmental scripts for the original King Kong, penned by different writers with varying working titles. All three scripts go up for auction on August 8th.
This video is an incredibly rare glimpse into the making of Kong from the page to the screen.
1.”The Beast” – King Kong Movie Script First Draft
The first, offered here and titled “The Beast,” is markedly different from later drafts.
“The Beast” was composed by British writer Edgar Wallace. In this first draft, instead of filmmaker Carl Denham, you have rugged big-game hunter Danby Denham. The character later known as Ann Darrow (portrayed in the film by iconic Fay Wray), is Shirley Redman, who is saved by Kong from a band of escaped convicts! Several pages are dedicated to the convicts, who kidnapped Shirley.
Though there are these and other very noticeable differences between this manuscript and the finished product, Wallace’s story is still the essential framework of King Kong, with Kong fighting a Tyrannosaur to protect the girl, and the final showdown of beast and man taking place in a bustling New York.
Edgar Wallace died of pneumonia just over a month after this manuscript was complete, so his vision (inspired by the concept dreamed up by original director Merian C. Cooper) would be changed extensively through successive drafts. If Wallace had lived, perhaps Kong would have been a very different beast.
2.”The Eighth Wonder” – King Kong Draft Movie Script
The second, titled “The Eighth Wonder,” is a revision of Wallace’s scenario by screenwriter James Ashmore Creelman, who was brought on by Marian C. Cooper from another film he was working on, The Most Dangerous Game. In it, you’ll find Danby Denham is now simply Denham, a brutish film director. Shirley Redman is now Ann Darrow, and her lover in the first draft (a convict named John) has become first mate Jack Driscoll. This important “beauty and the beast” theme was introduced in this draft. Plus, the Kong in New York sequence is lengthened, reading more like the scene we all know.
After Creelman was forced to temporarily step away from the project due to his work on The Most Dangerous Game, the script saw further revisions by Horace McCoy, who added a few of the more fanciful and exotic elements, like the terrifying island natives, sacrificial maidens, and the gigantic wall used to keep Kong at bay. When Creelman returned to the project, he despised the new fantastic elements (though a film with lumbering dinosaurs and a giant ape is already quite fantastic). Thankfully, Cooper stood firm they remain in the script.
3.”Kong (The Eighth Wonder)” – Movie Script Draft
The third and final one we offer is the shows the basis for the iconic adventure film deemed “culturally, historically and aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress.
In this draft, titled “Kong (The Eighth Wonder),” Denham has somewhat morphed further into Fritz Denham, a wild and boisterous director of several wild animal films made in exotic locales, while Captain Engelhorn is one of the few characters who’s remained the same throughout.
This version is a further revision by James Ashmore Creelman, the screenwriter brought on by Merian C. Cooper as a replacement for the then-recently deceased Edgar Wallace. Here the Witch King is added to the mix, and Kong’s death is written with an even more heart-wrenching tone.
As with the previous lot, “The Eighth Wonder,” this is the only script of its kind we’ve ever laid eyes on. Whether it’s the only copy in existence we don’t know, but the scarcity of this manuscript can’t be overstated.
What’s incredible about these screenplays is that each is wildly different from the last. The first could be a different, albeit similar movie to King Kong, while the latter two are much closer to the beloved creature feature we all know, while still displaying an array of differences from one another.
Preview the King Kong movie scripts for sale in the August 8 – 9, 2020 Entertainment & Music Memorabilia Signature Auction – Dallas #7221