Jackson pays monster fine for taking 'King Kong' over budget

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The Independent Culture

Jackson, the man who set Hollywood alight with his epic cinematic trilogy of The Lord of the Rings, has included an array of blockbusting special effects in the film, which alone are estimated to cost as much as $32m (£18m).

The fine for reaching an extraordinary total budget of $207m is expected to be split between Mr Jackson himself and his production company. The News of King Kong's extra weight and girth - the running time, originally intended to be about two-and-a-half hours, has shot past the three-hour mark - seems to have been greeted, however, with nothing but excitement and pleasure among executives at Universal Pictures.

"We expected to see a long movie," the chair of Universal Pictures, Stacey Snider, told Variety, "and we loved it. It's a brilliant movie, an epic feast."

Mr Jackson was, in effect, handed the keys to Hollywood after the smash success of his Lord of the Rings trilogy. Not only did he exercise complete control over King Kong, along with his partners Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, but key parts of the production were withheld from the corporate front office until the film was completed.

Universal's top brass recently flew to New Zealand to watch the three-hour cut and decide if they were prepared to release it at that length. Their reaction was effusive, at least in public, and Mr Jackson was given the go-ahead.