King Kong returning to Universal Studios Hollywood as giant 3-D image

Posted Thursday, January 28, 2010 12:00 PM | Contributed by Jeff

After nearly 19 months away from the spotlight, a new King Kong -- more grizzled and, definitely, ferocious -- is preparing to return to Universal Studios Hollywood. Since the old animatronic Kong was destroyed in a fire on the theme park's back lot, Hollywood's top visual effects wizards have been tinkering away in a giant hangar in Playa Vista to create a new, more realistic ape to terrify visitors who take the park's signature back lot studio tour.

Read more from The LA Times.

Thursday, January 28, 2010 5:23 PM

Holy crap I wish this was there last summer when I was there I LOVED King Kong '05! It was one of my favorite movies ever!!

Lifetime Raptor flights: 2175 :)

Thursday, January 28, 2010 5:47 PM

Has anyone heard if Transformers™ was still on track for 2011?

Thursday, January 28, 2010 6:39 PM

LuvRaptor, it is one of my favorite movies as well. I fell in love with the giant ape, and I have always loved Naomi Watts. The drama was brilliant, and the action was breathtaking. Unfortunately, it seems that not a lot of people feel the same way about the film as we do.

Now about this "3-D image" or whatever, looks somewhat artificial to me, compared to the animatronic Kong of the past.

Thursday, January 28, 2010 7:20 PM

I was wowed by the movie the first time I saw it, but on subsequent views it did less and less for me. It needed to be much shorter.

Thursday, January 28, 2010 8:24 PM

That's true of a lot of movies these days. I guess when they are dinging us for $9 tickets they figure we deserve a 3-hour movie...

Anyway, am I the only one who kind of doesn't get this? This is the Universal Hollywood tram tour. That's that 45-70 minute ride where you get to drive all over the Universal front and back lots, with a couple of visits to specially equipped sound stages (Earthquake, Kong, etc) to see some scene recreations to keep the show a little more interesting than just driving past sets where nothing is happening.

Thing is, the article I saw indicated that as with most 3D imagery, they still have to use the @#$%! glasses. How is that going to work in the context of the tram tour? "Okay, folks, under your seat you'll find a pair of 3D glasses, put them on now..."?

I just don't get it. Why not do something really creative like multiplane projection or something like that. Or forget trying to do the 3D thing altogether; it is a MOVIE set after all, and doing the wraparound and the bouncy thing ought to be plenty. Do a good enough job with the visuals and it will appear to be 3D even without parallax.

The other thing I don't get is why the building is so enormous if what it contains is basically a projection system that wraps 'round the tram...

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Thursday, January 28, 2010 11:56 PM

You're not the only one, Rideman. It'll be exciting like other high tech 3-D rides and shows, but I think that it'll be to slick to seem realistic.

It's probably a lot cheaper to design a 3-D film then it would be to recreate the large furry animatronic ape creature.

Friday, January 29, 2010 8:09 AM

I thought the article I read said the 3D movie actually cost significantly more to make than if they would have rebuilt the animatronic figure.

Friday, January 29, 2010 9:58 AM

Is says that in the article, guess some people just dont like to bother reading it. Considering Universal offers a VIP/Fastpass system, Lost Kause would probably not enjoy going there anyhow ;-)

Friday, January 29, 2010 11:31 AM

It could possibly be better than the original. I wasn't too impressed with the robot. I think animatronics work best when you are moving past them with music and whatnot, but you just hung out there and spent enough time to actually start thinking about what you were seeing...a robot...and the immersion was completely lost. This could be fun.

Friday, January 29, 2010 11:05 PM

I read almost the entire article yesterday. I guess that I missed the part that read:

Although they declined to discuss the price tag for the 3-D production,theme park officials said the cost would be more than six times theprice of rebuilding the destroyed mechanical Kong.

I prefer tangible and actual, not virtual and fake. What's so bad about that.

The Real 3-D technology that this ride is probably going to use is very cool, and very realistic. Avatar blew me away. I gave it an A+ in my movie review for the local paper. It is the same kind of technology that the Spiderman ride at IOA uses, utilizing polarized lenses in the 3-D glasses, alternating in direction (vertical and horizontal) from each eye in order to block out what each eye should not see. This new Kong experience will be very similar as well.

Maybe my problem is with the computer animation. In some ways, it's as realistic as it can be, which I will say is almost too realistic. In another way, that I can't quite describe, computer animation just hasn't reached perfection quite yet. Whatever that indescribable thing about it is, it almost makes me not enjoy it. It's somewhat distracting sometimes.

I read a few very interesting articles lately about how the faces and expressions of digital characters are perceived as really creepy when they look ultra realistic. The new technology in Avatar has almost fixed this problem by filming the faces of the actors, and motion capturing their faces with wearable cameras during the acting out of the scenes.

And stuff...

Alextucla, I used to work for Universal, and I understand considerably how well their virtual queue system works for reasons that I don't want to get into in a discussion about the new Kong ride. I dislike virtual queue systems, but that isn't what keeps me from visiting a park. A poorly run park is what keeps me from visiting a park, especially when it entices (or forces) people to use a "flashpass" to bypass the lines that are artificially lengthened in the first place.

You don't have me figured out. ;)

(And my winkie looks better than you winkie.)


Saturday, January 30, 2010 12:04 AM

One major problem with the old monkey is that the bridge was only two tram-cars long, while the tram is four cars long, so the show had to run twice, once for the first two cars, and again for the last two cars. The new system, presumably, will allow for one show for the entire tram.

I suppose they could have done that before; it was a curved set to begin with IIRC (I only got to see that show once) but to do that right would mean scaling up the bridge and the monkey, and the building probably couldn't be big enough to do that. Universal is apparently limited in the size of buildings on that part of the property, and besides, they seem to enjoy having the show buildings appear to be perfectly ordinary sound stages until the tram gets inside. Of course that would be more believable if they had one or more sound stages that the tram went through that were NOT show buildings... :)

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Saturday, January 30, 2010 2:22 PM

Jeff said:
I was wowed by the movie the first time I saw it, but on subsequent views it did less and less for me. It needed to be much shorter.

totally agree..that movie easily could have been less than 2 hours. Peter Jackson went WAY too far into detail about all the characters. Anytime I've rewatched the movie since I ff to when they get to Skull Island. I will sometimes stop the movie at the Central Park scene just to give it a happy ending! :)

Can someone help me out here about the King Kong at US? Was it actually from the 1980 remake that sucked? I know US in Florida had a ride years ago like that where KK grabbed the sky ride thing and shook it. Not very scary or life like.
Was at US Hollywood in August and only got to see the Skull Island layout and the tiny model of the Venture-thought that was cool, but would LOVE to get back to see the 3-D Kong! :)

Lostkause-the reason the movie didnt do as well as expected is because of the 1980 remake, it sucked so bad people weren't forgiving enough to give this one a try, (that same thing happened to the latest Hulk movie) I also know alot of people cant stand Jack Black either which didnt help. It actually did quite well in the box office but certainly not up to LOTRs. It grossed 550 mill and then another 100mill in DVD sales.

Lifetime Raptor flights: 2175 :)

Saturday, January 30, 2010 4:12 PM

Jo, I remember seeing the old King Kong movie from 1980 on HBO or some pay channel. Like the first Superman movie and E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, I watched it over and over, memorizing every line and sequence. I was just a kid who didn't know better, but it was on my list of my favorite movies back then. Seeing it lately, I can't believe that I actually like it at all.

I had only rode the KK ride in Orlando. I wasn't aware that they were different until this thread. The Orlando ride, which closed down and was replaced with Mummy, was cheesy, but still fun. King Kong grabbed the suspended tram with his ginormous robot hand, and then shook the tram silly, up and down. It was easy to figure out that the hand never really touched the tram. The old animitronic really didn't look very lifelike either.

Had the new attraction used robotics, it would have been nice to compare the two, and see just how far that kind of technology has come since the old ride was built.


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