Hollywood Gothique
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King Kong – $500-million dollar flop?

Moviefone.com reprints this article from USA today, analyzing the box office performance of KING KONG.

The basic question the article asks is whether a movie that seems on its way to earning over $500-million worldwide can be considered a box office disappointment. In the case of KONG, the answer seems to be yes, because Universal hyped the movie with a huge advertising campaign designed to make the film a contender to replace TITANIC as the all-time box office champ (with over $1-billion worldwide). With a production cost of over $200-million (not counting the cost of prints and advertising, which were huge), the film will probably not lose money, but it will not generate huge profits, either.

The article goes a step farther, attempting to analyze the reasons why the film, though clearly doing well, is not doing as well as expected. Unfortunately, this analysis is a bit simple-minded, blaming the film for being too long (apparently ignoring that TITANIC’s running time is even longer than KONG’s) and blaming the film for having a “special effect” for a star.

Clearly, audiences relate to Kong; the problem is not that he’s a special effect. The real problem with the film is that it’s a jumbled mess that apparently include every thought director Peter Jackson ever had about the subject since seeing the original 1933 version decades ago. It’s not light-hearted escapist entertainment, and it’s not a full-blown mythic tragedy; it’s an uneasy blending of the two. If the overall concept had been clarified, the running time would have not been a crucial issue (although a little judicious trimming would not have hurt).