King Kong made its first Broadway debut in New York City at the Broadway Theatre in November 2019. As one of the original collaborators of King Kong’s Australian run, TAIT was called upon again to aid in the revival of the massively beautiful puppet known as ‘King Kong’ and lend its entertainment automation expertise to create this larger-than-life, fully emoting expressive character.
To create what is now being called an animatronic marvel by CBS, New York Times and Entertainment Weekly, TAIT worked closely with Global Creatures Co., to determine products and services needed to ensure the 1.2 ton animatronic ape displayed realistic mannerisms and movements in real-time.
For King Kong to effect those mannerisms, TAIT manufactured an apparatus comprised of a gantry crane and slew mechanism containing 8 high-speed BT2-290 winches complete with power diverters and four automated swing arms. TAIT also installed two BT2-390 winches, front of house, allowing King Kong to lean past the proscenium arch and into the audience. The very complex apparatus was preprogramed to TAIT’s automation platform giving King Kong 6-degrees of freedom: up/down, left/right, backwards/forwards, roll, pitch and yaw.
King Kong relied on Global Creatures’ voodoo rigs for facial expressions and internal body movements while TAIT’s automation platform focused on mechanically automating the puppet to react to its surroundings in real-time. With over 40 axes of motion, the integration of TAIT’s automation platform combined with Global Creatures voodoo rigs was an incredible technical achievement as it allowed for live puppeteering with full range of motion, control and safety.