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Ultra HD : Worth a Look
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Release Date: April 9th, 2024 Movie Release Year: 1976

King Kong (1976) - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Limited Edition SteelBook

Overview -

4K UHD Review By: Matthew Hartman
The biggest show on earth stomps its way to 4K!
King Kong 1976 smashes its way home for a new 2-disc 4K UHD Blu-ray SteelBook from Paramount. Offering a lovely well-detailed Dolby Vision HDR transfer that is similar to Studio Canal’s UK 4K set from two years ago (if not the same), the extended TV cut gets its own HD disc, but the set is completely void of any bonus features. At least the SteelBook art is pretty but for the best value, you might want to import it. Worth A Look.

Worth a Look
Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
SteelBook / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital
Video Resolution/Codec:
2160p/HEVC Dolby Vision HDR / HDR10
Aspect Ratio(s):
Audio Formats:
English: DTS-HD MA 5.1 (Theatrical 4K) DTS-HD MA 2.0 (Extended TV)
Release Date:
April 9th, 2024

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take


I love that there’s a debate now about Kong movies. We’ve gotten to that point where there are enough remakes, reboots, sequels, and extended universes that fans can ask “Which one is better?” and then aggressively defend their position.  Universally everyone seems to get behind the original Merian C. Cooper 1933 classic as the best beast of the business, but the debate about the remakes and sequels cracks me up. People get really passionate about it! 

Speaking specifically of the 1976 film, I like it. It’s the first Kong film I ever saw as a kid, and specifically the extended TV cut because that’s how we recorded it on two VHS tapes complete with commercial blips. It was years before I saw the original theatrical version and was so confused by how short it was. It was an admirably ambitious production. The visual effects were pretty damned impressive for their time, and that John Barry score is sumptuous. Perhaps not the greatest film ever but it's a well-mounted production.

Before even getting into Peter Jackson’s King Kong film or the more recent Kong: Skull Island, let me just get it out of the way that it’s damn difficult to screw up a King Kong film. Jackson’s may be overlong and indulgent but it’s beautifully executed with incredible visual effects. 2017’s Kong wasn’t interested in bringing the big ape to the Big Apple but was more focused on expanding the new Godzilla monster franchise (which was perfectly okay too). I don’t really judge them against each other, I enjoy them all. I mean, they’re all better than King Kong Lives! When I decide which ape flick I want to watch it usually just comes down to mood, and this time I was in the mood for King Kong 1976

For a more complete and involved reviews:
here's Sam Coen’s 2022 King Kong ‘76 4K UHD Review
and here's Mr. E.'s 2021 King Kong '76 Blu-ray Review

Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray  

After stomping around the foreign markets, King Kong 1976 finally crashes on to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray in the U.S. as a two-disc SteelBook from Paramount. The 4K is pressed on a BD-66 with a BD-50 disc reserved for the three-hour Television Cut. Both discs are housed in separate trays in the SteelBook. The SteelBook is a lovely piece with a plastic slipcover accent that gives the art a real kick. Not quite as amazing as the real true theatrical poster but awesome all the same. NOTE - we haven't been able to pull disc-sourced images or video yet for this release, but when we can we'll circle back and add some to the review. 


Video Review


Given the slightly yellowed appearance, this looks to possibly be the same transfer Studio Canal and Paramount partnered up for with the 2022 release in the U.K. - I haven't been able able to definitively find a source that says Paramount did any of their own work on this like they did for 3 Days of the Condor or Serpico. Looking at the included TV cut and then back to the old Scream disc, this does appear a bit more yellow-toned. If this is the same transfer as Studio Canal's 4K disc, the yellow push isn’t as severe as the urine-stained appearance of Cats Eye or Red Sonja. Whites still look crisp and natural and blue skies can appear quite vivid, but there are also times when the green jungle foliage just appears far too neon green. But at least black levels and depth are well managed and film grain appears intact. I just do not understand the bitrate modulation, there are some odd peaks and some pretty severe lows in odd places but it's not the worst Paramounted transfer I've ever seen.

The Extended TV Cut is still about as good as it's going to get since a lot of that footage is several generations removed from the original negative and/or no longer exists requiring the best available elements to be sourced. Wish it could be better, but it is what it is and that's better than merely "watchable"

Here’s what Sam had to say in 2022:

The following message appears before King Kong starts: “StudioCanal and Paramount present this 4K restoration. The 35mm Original Negative was scanned in 4K and colour graded by Paramount. The restoration and mastering were then carried out at L’Immagine Ritrovata in 2022, under the supervision of StudioCanal.”

For those who are wary of the film receiving the dreaded teal and yellow treatment, I’ve got good news and bad news. Bad news is that the source of such illusory color grading came from Paramount rather than L’Immagine Ritrovata. Good news is that this 2160p presentation is a terrific upgrade in geometry and finer details than previous Blu-ray releases. 

Okay, so first, the color grade: the yellow and teal aren’t nearly as prevalent as it was in StudioCanal’s 4K releases of Cat’s Eye and Red Sonja. Certain exterior shots of blue skies and oceans definitely lay bare how revisionist this yellow-ish grade is, though other shots have strong whites and colors in close-ups. Although a bit problematic, what’s here isn’t enough to soften the many positives found throughout the presentation. Bitrate is also a bit anemic in certain scenes, which I can only imagine is because the three-hour Extended TV Cut is taking up a lot of space on the 4K disc. That being said, I didn’t find there to be any crushing or other issues because of the bitrate.

King Kong was shot in beautiful 2.39:1 widescreen using anamorphic lenses, so you have those really texturally pleasing softening effects on the edges of the frame. I’d say this new 4K restoration is a much better representation of how effects like those should look in a home video setting, rather than the somewhat-sharpened look that Shout Factory’s Blu-ray release sometimes gave off. That’s not to discount Shout’s release, as it too has positives, but I prefer the greater detail here and subtle Dolby Vision HDR layer adding some oomph.

Audio Review


The 4K Theatrical Cut enjoys a fully-engaged DTS-HD MA 5.1 while the Extended TV Cut makes do with a respectable DTS-HD MA 2.0 mix. The Theatrical Cut is lively and engaged giving dialog plenty of room but big Kong action is nicely prioritized.The Extended TV Cut is again a case of making due with what they had. There was a lot of restoration issues with this one ranging from missing sound effects and dialog exchanges so the best elements were used - and to be honest, it's not terrible. It doesn't rattle the speakers off the walls or anything but it's not a muted incomprehensible mess either. 

Special Features


What’s really frustrating with this release is that there’s nothing else here beyond an SD version of the theatrical trailer. No commentary or interviews Studio Canal’s own set are available. Likewise, none of Scream Factory's bonus features return for this disc either. So fans hoping for a definitive feature-loaded set are really missing out. You'll have to import the Studio Canal set and/or hold onto your old Scream Factory disc to enjoy anything after the show is over. I'm not including the Extended TV Cut as an extra this time because it should always be included after so many releases. 

  • Theatrical Trailer

King Kong 1976 is a fun film. Certainly not the “best” Kong film ever made, but a damned fun one all the same. The great cast with hippy Jeff Bridges, a young sexy Jessica Lange, and the always awesome Charles Grodin sell how fun this big hairy ape picture is. Throw in some ground-breaking creature effects with a beautiful John Barry score and you’ve got one hell of a picture. Now the trick for fans waiting for a domestic 4K release is that we didn’t get a fully packed special edition. The transfer is solid despite the yellowish color timing, the audio is great, and the Extended TV Version a nice addition, but the complete lack of any meaningful bonus features is a real pisser. I was among those who waited for this SteelBook set and pre-ordered Day One - I wish I’d imported the U.K. set afterall. I’d have gotten the same thing only with a great selection of extras. So for those who wanted to grab King Kong 1976 on 4K - my advice is to import the U.K. disc. This set is fine if all you want is the film in 2160p with a cool SteelBook. Ultimately this U.S. release is Worth A Look strictly because a better option is out there lurking in the vast jungle of import releases. 

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