Today I was at my local bodega buying beer (Brooklyn Beer, for those who care – ‘55 Pennant Ale) and there was a big picture of King Kong staring at me. It was a sticker on the front door, and it was – somehow – advertising the New York lottery. I furrowed my brow, lightly troubled by this seemingly inane tie-in, and went home.
At home I got an email. The email told me that the New York Times is reporting that King Kong is clocking in at three hours. I rushed to IMDB, and saw what I suspected – the 1933 King Kong was 100 minutes long. That’s one hour and twenty minutes shorter than Peter Jackson’s version.
Huh? What the heck is filling up another hour and change?
Whatever it is, Stacey Snider, Universal’s chairwoman or person or whatever, says that it’s great. "This is a masterpiece. I can’t wait to unveil it."
Of course she has to say that. The film has crept up to cost 207 million dollars, more than Universal had bargained for. And with the running time unexpectedly hitting three hours, Universal is being faced with a movie that, by the very nature of space/time, can’t play as many shows a day as a film half its length. And at three hours she can’t say, "This is a real thrill-ride!" because no one wants to be on Space Mountain that long.
This is the first bit of news about King Kong that has given me pause. I have been gung-ho behind this picture from the start, even though the idea of remaking your favorite film never quite made sense to me (while I have used the analogy of a band doing cover songs before, that only works if your movies are three minutes long, really). But now three hours – that just sounds indulgent. I know that much of the padded running time will be taken up by 21st century versions of the action scenes – we demand so much more out of our action sequences now than our grandparents did. They were psyched to get a minute or two of Kong battling a T-Rex; we’ll probably end up with a full reel and a half of dino-action.
We’ll all know soon enough. Will this be Peter Jackson’s Heaven’s Gate? I certainly hope not.