‘King Kong’: Where versatility is key

A still from the movie ‘King Kong’. The giant black gorilla opens its mouth in a roar.

Oscar-winning Kiwi director Peter Jackson used stunning local landscapes and locations in his 2005 remake of the classic film ‘King Kong’ — the movie that inspired him to become a filmmaker.

Based in Miramar, Wellington, the production used the world world-class facilities of Stone Street Studios, Wētā Workshop, Wētā FX, and Park Road Post Production.

1930s New York

A vacant plot of land in the industrial area of Lower Hutt became New York, just 20 minutes from central Wellington. Filming for scenes set in the Broadway theatre from which ‘King Kong’ makes his escape took place in Wellington’s historic Opera House. One of the largest proscenium arch theatres of its kind in Australasia. Extra filming was at the Auckland Civic Theatre, an hour’s flight from Wellington.

Ocean scenes

Ocean scenes aboard the steamship Venture were filmed on the Kāpiti Coast, 45 minutes from the Wellington CBD, and the Cook Strait, a stretch of water between Wellington and the South Island. Meanwhile, Miramar Wharf stood in for scenes at the pier, just around the corner from the film production facilities.

Cost-effective

Similarly, a large-scale set built above Shelly Bay included the native village and giant wall which separated Kong from the rest of the island — a minute’s drive from the production facilities. Filming for the Skull Island “dinosaur run” scene took place at nearby Lyall Bay.

Creating movie magic

From motion capture to making miniatures, all visual effects took place in Wellington. Wellington companies brought the world of ‘King Kong’ to life. Including Wētā FX and Wētā Workshop, which built detailed miniature models for the 800 or so miniature shots in the film. Wētā FX won an Academy Award® for its work on the epic movie.