The Empire State Building - on the Screen

King Kong (2005)
King Kong (2005)
The Empire State Building under construction.
The Empire State Building under construction.


A visual tour of the Empire State Building as seen in the movies.

Some quick facts about the building - It took one year and 45 days to build - the official opening was in May 1, 1931.

It cost $41m to build including land property and is currently undergoing a $550m renovation -

The address is 350 Fifth Avenue

The total height of the building including the spire and lightning rod is 1454ft - there are 102 floors - 73 elevators

Don't like elevators? There are 1860 steps from ground floor to 102nd floor. It has 6500 windows

57,000 tons of steel to construct the steel skeleton - total weight 365,000 tons

The spire was originally a mooring mast for airships but after a few attempts it was found to be too dangerous because of strong winds and not enough mooring ropes.

The tallest building in the world for 40 years until the World Trade Center buildings were constructed in 1972.

Skyscraper Souls
Skyscraper Souls
Skyscraper Souls - poster
Skyscraper Souls - poster



Skyscraper Souls (1932) directed by Edgar Selwyn and starring Warren William and Maureen O' Sullivan. William plays an unscrupulous businessman who is running out of money financing the building of a New York City skyscraper.

The Empire State Building was only a year old when this movie was released.

King Kong (1933)
King Kong (1933)
King Kong (1933)
King Kong (1933)
King Kong (1933) poster
King Kong (1933) poster


King Kong (1933) directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, starring Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong and Bruce Cabot. Nearly 80 years old and still the greatest monster movie of them all. Kong falls for Fay Wray, literally.

New footage of the Empire State Building was added to the film in the 1952 re-release for the scene where Kong grabs a plane and throws it down the side of the building.

Love Affair (1939) directed by Leo McCarey and starring Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer. Dunne and Boyer fall in love on board ship during a cruise from Europe to New York. They arrange to meet again 6 months later on the top floor of the Empire State Building.

Remade in 1957 in colour, stereo sound and Cinemascope as An Affair to Remember starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr.

On the Town
On the Town
On the Town - poster
On the Town - poster



One of the great MGM musicals, On the Town (1949) directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, starring Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Jules Munshin, Betty Garrett, Ann Miller and Vera-Ellen. Three sailors on 24-hour leave in New York, chase after girls, sing songs, dance a bit and sing some more songs, well it is a musical.

The songs "You're awful" and "On the Town" are sung at the Empire State Building.

An Affair to Remember
An Affair to Remember
An Affair to Remember - poster
An Affair to Remember - poster



An Affair to Remember (1957) directed by Leo McCarey and starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. Grant and Kerr fall in love on board ship during a cruise from Europe to New York. They arrange to meet again 6 months later on the top floor of the Empire... hey didn't I just write this?

A remake of Love Affair (1939) with added chroma and width, have a box of tissues handy.

When Worlds Collide
When Worlds Collide

New York submerged in the George Pal sci-fi classic When Worlds Collide (1951) directed by Rudolph Mate and starring Richard Derr and Barbara Rush. The star Bellus is on a collision course with Earth, mankind is doomed. A giant rocket is built which will save a bunch of people and take them to the planet Zyra an Earth-like planet orbiting Bellus.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes
Beneath the Planet of the Apes

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) directed by Ted Post and starring James Franciscus, Kim Hunter and Charlton "damn you all to hell!" Heston. Earth 2000 years in the future, Apes rule the planet and man has turned mute and savage. In the ruins of New York City live scarred mutants with psychic ability.

In a final futile attempt to stop more Planet of the Apes sequels being made Heston detonates the Doomsday Bomb incinerating the planet.

Superman II
Superman II
Superman II
Superman II

Superman II (1981) directed by Richard Lester and starring Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Margot Kidder and Terence Stamp. Refusing to kneel before Zod Superman fights the three Kryptonian criminals in Metropolis. The Empire State Building gets it's spire knocked off during the battle, and Supes being the dutiful hero puts it back again.

Sleepless in Seattle
Sleepless in Seattle

Sleepless in Seattle (1993) directed by Nora Ephron and starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. When Tom Hank's wife dies, he moves to Seattle with his son, Jonah. Seeing how sad his father is and how he needs a new woman, Jonah gets him to talk about his wife and women on a radio talk show. Meg Ryan is fascinated by his story and wants to see him, they agree to meet on top of the Empire State Building on Valentine's Day.

Independence Day
Independence Day
Independence Day
Independence Day
Independence Day
Independence Day
Independence Day
Independence Day


Independence Day (1996) directed by Roland Emmerich and starring Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman and Randy Quaid. Alien invaders park their huge spaceships over the major cities of the world. They are not friendly.

Smith and Goldblum fly up to the orbiting alien mothership and plant a virus in their computer system, with Norton anti-virus disabled the aliens lose the war.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004) directed by Kerry Conran and starring Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow. New York City 1939 and a zeppelin docks with the Empire State Building. A hugely enjoyable and fascinating adventure yarn which was filmed entirely in front of a blue screen, only the actors were real everything else was added in later in post-production.

There is a King Kong injoke during an aerial dogfight in New York City. For a brief moment in the background there is a shot of Kong climbing the Empire State Building. See screenshot above.

The Day After Tomorrow
The Day After Tomorrow
The Day After Tomorrow - poster
The Day After Tomorrow - poster



The Day After Tomorrow (2004) directed by Roland Emmerich and starring Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal. The Earth undergoes massive climate shifts due to global warming. Cyclones hit Los Angeles and a huge tsunami crashes into New York City and as if that wasn't bad enough a sudden deep freeze turns the city to ice.

King Kong (2005)
King Kong (2005)
King Kong (2005)
King Kong (2005)
King Kong (2005) poster
King Kong (2005) poster


King Kong (2005) directed by Peter Jackson and starring Naomi Watts, Jack Black and Adrien Brody. A mega-budget remake of the 1933 classic with Oscar-winning state of the art CGI effects.

Andy Serkis in motion control suit 'played' Kong, Serkis had previously brought Gollum brilliantly to life in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy and recently played another ape, Caesar, in Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011). Serkis also plays the ships cook in King Kong.

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief
Uma Thurman as Medusa in Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief
Uma Thurman as Medusa in Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief
The cast of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief at the Empire State Building.
The cast of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief at the Empire State Building.


Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief (2010) directed by Chris Columbus and starring Logan Lerman, Sean Bean, Uma Thurman, Steve Coogan and Pierce Brosnan. A fantasy adventure for kids. Someone has stolen Zeus lightning bolt and he is mighty miffed and wants it back. Percy Jackson turns out to be the son of Zeus and teams up with assorted gods and demi-gods to retrieve the lightning bolt.

The entrance to Olympus, home of the Gods, is situated at the top of the Empire State Building of all places.

Queen Kong - art by Frank Frazetta
Queen Kong - art by Frank Frazetta

More by this Author


16 comments

rabbit75 profile image

rabbit75 4 years ago

Awesome well-informed hub, Steve. I enjoyed it a lot. The first movie that first came to mind when reading the title of your hub was most definitely the original King Kong movie. I think that scene is such an iconic image.

The second movie that came to mind was Sleepless in Seattle for some odd reason.

Once again voted up and voted awesome!


Breen Bergstrome 4 years ago

Steve,

Yes this is awesome and a great read. You've presented a magnificent collection of films... and images?...love them all..too many favourites to list.

Your hubs are dynamite. Very enjoyable and valuable references.


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Goodness, where did Queen Kong come from Steve? Excellent hub, great photos. I have seen On The Town loads of times, it is one of my favourite musicals; the next time I watch it, I will take greater care in looking at New York. Voted up etc.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

rabbit75, Breen, Jools, thank you for commenting, it is appreciated.

rabbit75, the first movie that came to mind for me was Kong, so I started from there. The first movie on this list, Skyscraper Souls, I didn't know existed before yesterday. :)

Breen, these In the Movies hubs have been popular, another 20 views for the Jesus hub yesterday, and I enjoy compiling them. The great thing is there are thousands of topics to choose from.

Jools, I was going to finish off the hub with another King Kong poster and noticed Frazetta's painting, I grinned and posted that instead. There was a Queen Kong movie would you believe, made in the 1970s, a giant female ape which falls for the leading actor, Ray Fay.


jacqui2011 profile image

jacqui2011 4 years ago from Leicester, United Kingdom

Great hub. Very informative and so well written. Loved the pictures to which compliment a wonderful article. I loved "An affair to remember" and "Sleepless in Seattle." Voted up, awesome, useful and interesting.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Thank you jacqui2011, your kind words and votes are very much appreciated.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia

Another excellent addition to your landmark hubs. I really enjoyed reading the stats you included about the Empire State Building.....6500 windows and 1860 steps(now that would be a workout).

As many times that I have seen An Affair To Remember...this is the first time that I noticed the Empire State Building out of the airplane before...I am sure I will notice that on the next viewing.

I think easily the most famous movie that uses Empire State Building is King Kong....ever time I think about the Empire State Building I always visualize Kong swatting at the airplanes....even if I am watching a movie like Sleepless in Seattle ...I think about Kong climbing to the top.

Voted up and across the board...I really enjoy reading and seeing all of these pictures and movies you have included in the hub.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Thanks Bruce, your comments and votes are very much appreciated. King Kong and the Empire State Building will always have that special connection. They used the World Trade Center in the 1976 version and it just wasn't the same.

I'm hoping that is the ESB Kerr is looking at through her window, it might be the Chrysler building which was briefly the tallest building in the world until the ESB was built.


thatmovieguy71 4 years ago

What a great and unique movie hub! In really enjoyed this one. You set the bar high for all movie hub writers, Steve!


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Thank you thatmovieguy71, your comment is appreciated. I'm happy people are enjoying these I have a lot more subjects and themes in the pipeline.


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

Regarding the movies you include in this hub:

This post will be on what movies I've seen. I'll discuss artwork preferences later.

I've seen most of the movies made before I was born, although the number of films made after I was born I've seen are hardy worth mentioning in number.

I have seen in order of their photos:

Skyscraper Souls

King Kong (1933 only)

love affair

On the town

An affair to Remember

Beneath the Planet of the apes

Sleepless in seattle


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Hi Flora, thanks for perusing my skyscraper hub.

Wait, you've seen Skyscraper Souls? I'm impressed. Never heard of it before.

Just checked and the entire film is available for viewing at Youtube, might watch it at the weekend and see the Empire State Building when it was only a one year old skyscraper. :)


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

I'm quite familiar with Warren William's career.


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

Hmmm. Not finished with this hub yet and I am behind again...oh, well. I'll check out blade runner tomorrow.

I haven't talked about the artwork in this hub.

My favuorite poster is from An Affair to Remember. It's like a sunset surrounding the building. as for the images of King Kong, my preference is 1933 atop of the buildfing with the plane coming at him.

Both Love affair and An affair to Remember as well as On the town are films that I see at least once a year every year.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Hi Flora, thanks for picking your favourites. I've seen An Affair to Remember but not Love Affair and I'd much rather watch On the Town, such a fun musical, funny too. My fave film on this hub? The original King Kong, a film which gave me nightmares when I first saw it as a child. :)


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

Hi Steve; King Kong on top of the Empire State building is one of the most iconic film images ever. Who doesn't know that reference? Living in NY I see the ESB so often and I still often think of Kong when I see it.

The most recent film I can think of where the ESB played a significant role was "the Adjustment Bureau".

Entertaining hub. Nice photos,

Rob

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