Peter Jackson signs to direct ''Kong'' remake. With the success of the ''Lord of the Rings'' movies, he gets Universal to back his dream project

By Gary Susman
March 31, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

”Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson has talked for years of remaking ”King Kong,” and now, he’ll finally get his wish. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Universal has signed Jackson to start work on the project as soon as he finishes post-production on the third ”Rings” movie, ”The Return of the King,” due out at Christmastime. Jackson and his fellow ”LOTR” screenwriters, partner Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, have written a ”Kong” script and expect to release the movie at Christmas 2005.

”No film has captivated my imagination more than ‘King Kong,”’ Jackson said in a statement. ”I’m making movies today because I saw this film when I was 9 years old. It has been my sustained dream to reinterpret this classic story for a new age. The story of Kong offers everything that any storyteller could hope for: an archetypal narrative, thrilling action, resonating emotion and memorable characters.”

As with the ”LOTR” trilogy, Jackson will shoot the film in his native New Zealand and use the Weta special effects house to bring the giant gorilla to life. No word if the ape will still climb the Empire State Building or if Jackson will just find a really tall building in Wellington.