The resuscitation of King Kong at Universal Studios has been a long time in vision. After a massive fire wiped out much of the backlot, the embodiment has always been about bringing back the fearsome gorilla in true size. However as in comparable in Southern California everything is corroborated within space and time.
Touted in intensity since the beginning of the year, the new King Kong 360 3D has been heralded as the next step in 3D technology. Spearheaded by Peter Jackson, who created the 2005 remake of the same name, the famous filmmaker currently prepping back-to-back “Hobbit” movies wanted to create a completely immersive 3D experience which would put the rider in the middle of the action.
At the press conference and media event to celebrate the grand opening of the attraction, Universal CEO Ron Meyer resounded his committment to the parks which have been undeniably successful providing a one/two punch with the opening of “Harry Potter” in Orlando and then “Kong” in Hollywood within a three week period.
A visually thinner Peter Jackson on video from New Zealand then proceeded to introduce the opening of the attraction by shooting himself in 3D TV showing the adherence to all things three dimensional. While he said that a sequel to Kong would not be made since the big guy is already dead, this ride was a way for him to reapproach the material and a character which he said has long been his favorite. In declaring it open, the confetti flies as the dark corners of the Soundstage 6 open.
What has been created in a more dynamic version of what “Back To The Future” originally did and then “The Simpsons Ride” added to. The surrounding elements once the tram enters into a dark corner mountain on the back side of the lot completely disorients the rider to the visual onslaught yet to come.
While not overwhelming when compared to the IMAX 3D mechanizations of “Avatar” last fall, the interactive perspective of Kong 360 3D is still impressive. The sequence, which is barely changed from the movie in terms of beats, involves the T-Rex/Kong fight on Skull Island. What makes it dynamic across the board is the fact that both the dinosaurs and our big gorilla are flipping end over end literally over the tram providing a completely alternate perspective of what was seen in the actual movie.
Initially when entering in with the 3D glasses, it requires the wearer a moment to adjust but unlike other similar attractions, there was no eye strain. Rather the key was to move your body around to see what was going on behind on the tram. This is where the ride, despite its briefness, is groundbreaking because it creates an almost virtual reality simulation on a real life scale.
King Kong 360 3D will in all accounts be a major boon to the Universal Hollywood studio tour because it allows for their pump of adrenalin and movie magic people journey to the movie capital for. The big guy is back.
To announce Los Angeles’ Red Carpet Summer, LA Inc, the city’s convention and visitors bureau, hosted a media reception to highlight the inventive possibilities coming to the City Of Angels hosted at the immense and glorious manor of Candy and the late Aaron Spelling.
The Spelling Manor, which is located on 4 1/2 acres in the exclusive Holmby Hills area just off the Wilshire Corridor, is one of the most exclusive of all homes and relatively hidden, much like the Playboy Mansion which is located next door. One would never know its location with its seemingly tranquil surroundings but without the need to drive up the essences of Mulholland to reach its precipice.
Spelling, who has recently put the Manor on the market for 115 million dollars, looks to be moving onto the next step. She is on the board of directors for LA Inc. and is their ambassador of goodwill. In her husband’s former screening room in the front of the house which is undeniably grandoise as a screen rises from the floor and pictures lift from the walls to reveal a projection booth, one realizes the extent that Spelling’s empire encompasses.
Patti McJennett, Sr. VP of Marketing for LA Inc., spoke that Los Angeles’ biggest draw is still tourism and that the international market takes up a great percent of that. With destinations like Korea, China and Japan from the Far East as well as UK, Germany and France, the lure of foreign visitors continues to dominate the marketplace.
Representing different companies of interest in the Los Angeles area, three specific outlays were brought forth.
The first was Thomas See, VP Of Sales for Universal Studios Hollywood, who announced the opening of the new King Kong 360 3D attraction, being created by Peter Jackson which is set to open this summer. It replaces the original attraction which was destroyed in the massive fire some years back which decimated this ride as well as much of the backlot. The attraction involves, at one point, the tram being surrounded on all sides by 3D screens on Skull Island stuck being a fighting Kong and a T-Rex. Jackson’s WETA did much to all of the 3D work on the Cameron opus “Avatar” so the effects and technology involved should be groundbreaking. The backlot is also reopening with the classic NY street back intact but with new modern brownstones being availed as well.
Jeff Rudolph, CEO of the California Science Center, announced the opening of the new wing: “Ecosystems” which offers a different range of interactive experiences. The promotion video shown spoke more than a passing comparison to Epcot’s former “Living Seas” pavilion at Disney World Florida. In addition to this attraction, no matter what any theater owner would have you hear, the Science Center boasts the true IMAX at 7 stories tall. Currently and progressing into the summer, “Hubble 3D” will be playing. Rudolph reflects that the journey through the galaxies million of light years away through actual images will astound.
Lastly, Philip Ferentinos, Director Of Starline Tours, spoke of the popularity of the Celebrity Homes tour. The Starline Tours date back to 1935 when Sid Grauman thought that it would be a great idea to show people around to where the stars lived. It wasn’t something he could bring to bear but his driver Bud, who knew where everyone lived, could. He bought a couple limos and began making the progress.
In the 1960s, a fellow entreprenuer who worked in the parking garage next to the Chinese Theater decided to take over the business and grow it. Currently as Ferentinos jokes, the vans are now “topless” and everyone has a personal headset as to not distract the residents. In a list of most requested homes to look at, Michael Jackson is at the top. His home was in the same Holmby Hills district as Spelling’s and the reality is that a Starline Tours bus was there when he was taken to the hospital. Many of the videos of that moment was taken by tourists on the tour. Other star homes that are of interest that they pass by are Jennifer Aniston, Tom Cruise and, of course, Spelling Manor.
Candy relates that Aaron sometimes would go out and see the tour buses and even jump on. The reasoning is that it was those fans on the bus that put him where he was and that should not be forgotten. Ferentinos mentions that just this week Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler, who were shooting their new film at Gucci in Beverly Hills, waved to passengers. Because they are so ingrained and constantly on tours, the drivers tend to know where things are going on in the city at any given point.
After these elements, a brief tour through the house was given. The multiple alcoves provided undeniable possibilities with all kinds of art covering the walls although impressionism seems to have taken a center seat. The small group we were part of was led by none other than Rick Hilton himself, father of Paris. He lives very close by and apparently (it seems) is involved in some way in helping to sell the house. His conversation while showing the house is that in terms of buyers (they have had interest), all aspects are negotiable including keeping some specific furniture in the house as well as the projection room.
Some of the very interesting rooms include Aaron’s office on the main floor which contain alot of his scripts and the main foyer where pictures including Victorian costumes of his daughter Tori as well as pictures in the room of Candy and Aaron with Prince Charles are extremely poignant.
Heading downstairs into a whole other world, the hobbies and fun of the Spellings come forth. One room is completely Candy’s doll collection which is impressive with everything from burlesque to turn-of-the-century to a doll that can actually smoke, all encased behind glass. The main room coming out of this sanctuary is a lithe pool room, slick but light in its decor. Heading down the next hallway which is made more specific by dog painting (specifically one with a dog head on a human body), a side door leads into a fully operating arcade game room which includes Ms. Pac Man. At the end of the downstairs corridor, a bowling alley, still fully operational, makes itself known. On the back wall lined by a wraparound couch is many of Aaron’s awards and nominations including many certificates for Golden Globes which was lost on many of the HFPA members who were in attendance on the tour. The People’s Choice glass awards line the side wall in full view reflecting Aaron’s thought process that the fans were infinitely important.
Leaving the property and returning to the streets around Holmby Park, one realizes the power of what this kind of estate represents especially in sharing it in part with the people of Los Angeles. It shows what is possible and what you think might be far away is right there under your nose.