Gorilla epic King Kong is set to charge into cinema history when it is given one of the biggest film launches ever seen in America.

Universal Pictures has revealed the movie will be shown in a staggering 3,568 theatres across the country, and more than 6,000 elsewhere in the world. Animated hit Shrek 2 is one of the few films to boast a bigger debut - launching in 4,163 picture houses last year (04).

But despite King Kong's monster start, industry experts doubt whether the film's takings will soar over the financial successes of blockbuster Spider-Man and the last two Lord Of The Rings offerings, which were also directed by King Kong film-maker Peter Jackson.

BRANDON GRAY, president of cinema website Boxofficemojo.com, says, "Its three-hour running time restricts the number of times it can be screened in one day, while in the US, it is rated PG-13 - which cautions parents that some material may be unsuitable for children."

Nevertheless he agrees the movie, starring Naomi Watts and Jack Black, "is poised to be the highest-grossing movie of December (05)".