King Kong: Peter Jackson's Production Diaries

You have to hand it to Kiwi director Peter Jackson — even when he's participating in what might seem like a cash-grab release to capitalise on the hype surrounding the Christmas release of his King Kong remake, he makes sure to give fans a geek-worthy package. So, accompanying the two-disc issue of the dozens of production diaries already featured on the kongisking.net web site are a lovely collectible box, a beautifully produced booklet and four stunning, numbered production prints conceived by Kong conceptual artists. It's quite a package, especially considering that the more than four hours worth of diaries actually reveal almost nothing of the film itself — specifically to keep its surprises a secret until the film's release. Those four hours are stunning, infinitely watchable and entertaining, following minute production details like why (and how) New York City sewers are always steaming, what an on-set art director does, and why sound guys are always saying "speed." There are a few "just for laughs" bits — hunting down online movie spy Gandalf for example, or Jack Black's "behind the scenes" freak-out about not appearing taller on film — and Jackson opens up the process to take suggestions from fans about what they'd like to see. It's all part of a policy that combines filmmaking openness with spoiler-free hidden gems that Jackson — who remains a huge fanboy — is dedicated to bringing. One of the most curious entries features Jackson's hush-hush announcement of two sequels to be filmed immediately following Kong's completion, with the original cast: Son of Kong and Into the Wolf's Lair. The diary entry is straight-faced and top secret — the only hint that these sequels may not, in fact, be happening is that: a) no reviews nor press have mentioned the prospect since; b) online sources, including imdb.com, list Jackson's next projects as The Lovely Bones and Halo; and c) the entry was posted online on April 1, 2005. Just a little spot of fun for Jackson acolytes pouring over his every word like gospel, hoping for another rollicking adventure. Added value on the set comes from a newly completed "making of" scene that was not originally featured on kongisking.net, included here now that you've likely seen the film itself. The Kong DVD is sure to feature much more detailed and revealing "behind the scenes" footage, but if you just can't help yourself, Jackson has made sure you'll get your money's worth. (Universal)