Universal Fire: King Kong & Godzilla Up In Smoke?

Sunday's fire at the Universal Studios backlot destroyed New York Street, Courthouse Square, the King Kong exhibit and a video storage facility.

It was reported that hundreds of videos were saved from the burning building by firemen and most of what was there were duplicates. However, much of what was lost involved music recording masters from the last century from artists including Bing Crosby, Judy Garland and others.

In addition, Universal sent out this message yesterday (June 1):

It is with great sadness that I must inform you that yesterdays fire destroyed nearly 100% of the archive prints kept here on the lot. Due to this we will be unable to honor any film bookings of prints that were set to ship from here. Over the next few weeks and months we will be able to try and piece together what material we do have and if any prints exist elsewhere. For the time being please check your rental confirmations and look under shipping instructions. If the print was set to ship from the studio then your date is now canceled. If the shipping
instructions say ship from Deluxe then those dates are still good. Please call either myself or Dennis Chong with any questions. I can be reached for the next two days at xxx and you can reach Dennis at xxx. I will be back in the office on Wednesday.

Paul Ginsburg
Vice President NBC Universal Distribution

Last year while assisting in the planning for G-FEST XIV's film screenings, I dealt with Mr. Ginsburg in arranging for the rentals of King Kong vs. Godzilla and King Kong Escapes. I was told at the time that they only had one archival print of each and didn't want the "heads or tails" of the films cut for mounting on a projector platter. We were told that since the Pickwick Theater did not have an older reel-to-reel projector, we would be unable to use the prints. As this was the case, that's why we had to screen the movies via DVD and still paid Universal for the screening rights.

If Mr. Ginsburg's message above is correct, then it is likely that both archival prints are lost. Naturally, Universal still has digitalized versions of both films that were used to create the DVDs. But the loss of the two archival prints would be devastating. This will be further looked into.


  1. I had the KING KONG ESCAPES print booked for my Thrillville show at the Cerrito Speakeasy in El Cerrito CA booked for June 12. Nice timing. Now the screening will have to be on big screen DVD, a minor visual format change, but a big deal to those of us
    who wish to preserve an increasingly archaic movie-going experience. Fortunately I did show the 35mm print of KING KONG VS GODZILLA last year. It is highly unlikely either print will be replaced. - Will the Thrill Viharo

  2. We screened the DVD versions of both "King Kong Escapes" and "King Kong vs. Godzilla" at last year's G-FEST. They both looked good on the screen. But I agree, a 35mm print is preferable. Unfortunately, August Ragone confirmed today that "King Kong Escapes" was a casualty of the fire.

  3. I happy to report that Universal will be striking a new 35mm print of KING KONG VS. GODZILLA for our Spooktacular event at the Colonial Theatre in Keene NH in April.


    So, KKvG will soon be available again for screenings in the US!