Critics beat up ‘King Kong,’ but producers aren’t pulling the plug

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Never mind those Curtiss Helldiver fighter planes circling the Empire State Building in “King Kong.”

The real threat to Broadway’s big ape may be those vicious drama critics.

They strafed the $35 million spectacle, which opened Nov. 8 and is by far the most expensive show of the season. The 20-foot-tall puppet got its due — and it is a remarkable creation — but minor things like, oh, the script and score, got clobbered.

Can this wounded beast limp along until the Tonys?

Word is there aren’t plans to close “King Kong” anytime soon, though it’s an open secret that other shows are circling the Broadway Theater, wondering when it will be back on the market. January and February can be pretty cold, even if your leading man is covered in fur.

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The animatronic King Kong.
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But “Kong” is blessed with deep-pocketed producers, the Australian firm Global Creatures. One of its shows, “Walking With Dinosaurs,” grossed millions of dollars.

Global Creatures spent nearly 10 years developing “King Kong,” and sources say the company is fighting for the show. What a source calls an “aggressive” television campaign began this week, and the footage of Kong is impressive.

Kong will also put in an appearance at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade next week which, with its millions of viewers, does move tickets.

The hope is that “Kong” can trample its bad reviews and go straight for tourists who now make up nearly 65 percent of the Broadway audience.

“We did not go into this naively,” a production source says. “I don’t think we ever thought the critics would be on our side. But we’ve got a great title and the big guy delivers the goods.”

The problem is the expense. “Kong” grossed a little more than $900,000 last week. But with a running cost north of $700,000, that’s not a big profit. Earning sback $35 million is a tall order.

Global Creatures has another, infinitely more promising show headed to Broadway: “Moulin Rouge,” which earned raves over the summer in Boston.

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