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King Kong Principal Photography Begins

Principal photography is set to begin in September on Peter Jacksons KING KONG. Jackson will shoot the epic action flick on location in his native New Zealand. Set to star in the Universal Pictures release is Academy Award nominee Naomi Watts (21 GRAMS), Golden Globe nominee Jack Black (SCHOOL OF ROCK) and Academy Award winner Adrien Brody (THE PIANIST). Cast members also include Andy Serkis (THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy), Thomas Kretschmann (U-571), Colin Hanks (ORANGE COUNTY) and Kyle Chandler (ANGEL'S DANCE, TV's EARLY EDITION).

Jackson commented, "I'm thrilled to be working with Naomi -- not many actresses could step into Fay Wray's shoes and I have no doubt she will be equally as stunning in the role of Ann Darrow. Adrien is one of the most gifted actors working today -- he is smart and charming and incredibly versatile and I think he's going to be fantastic in this role, which is unlike any he has played before."

Stacey Snider, chairman, Universal Pictures, said, "We are thrilled to be joining Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh on the heels of the landmark achievement of THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Peter and his team will bring their superior filmmaking, unequalled vision and the latest in film effects to this treasured classic. With the high-voltage casting of Naomi Watts, Jack Black and Adrien Brody, Peter's brought on some of the most talented young actors in Hollywood. There is something unbelievably exciting about working with a filmmaker on his dream project, as KING KONG is for Peter. I really look forward to our collaboration."

Jackson noted, "I very much want to respect the iconography of the original film, because I don't believe we should try to change what worked. Our version of KING KONG will reflect the same sort of dramatic sensibility we employed on THE LORD OF THE RINGS -- placing real characters, with real dilemmas, in the context of a truly fantastical world. I'm determined to give the film a gritty reality and to play the dramatic elements of the story for all they're worth. Our movie is set in 1933, and this is important because it means we can invest the story with the mystery and romance of a bygone era. The 30s was a time of discovery, when we did not know the full parameters of the world and literally, anything was possible."

Jackson re-teams with longtime collaborators Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, co-writing the screenplay with three-time Oscar-winning partner Walsh and THE LORD OF THE RINGS co-writer, Academy Award winner Boyens. The screenplay is based on the original story by Merian C. Cooper and Edgar Wallace, which became the classic 1933 RKO Radio Pictures film, directed by adventurers Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack. Jan Blenkin, Carolynne Cunningham, Fran Walsh and Jackson will produce the film under their WingNut Films banner, with Universal Pictures releasing the film worldwide on December 14, 2005.

Visual effects will be again handled by New Zealand-based companies Weta Digital and Weta Workshop, recipients of multiple Academy Awards for their collective work on THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy. Visual effects and miniatures will supplement practical locations in creating primordial jungles and '30s-period America. Joe Letteri will serve the vfx.

Universal Pictures is a division of Universal Studios ( Universal Studios is part of NBC Universal. NBC Universal is one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news and information to a global audience.

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Rick DeMott
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