Deep in the southern seas, the Venture receives a radio message from its owners informing Englehorn about an arrest warrant for Carl and instructing him to divert to Rangoon. Despite his attempt to comply, the ship is lost in fog and runs aground on rocks encircling Skull Island. Carl and his crew explore the island to film and are attacked by vicious natives. The sound technician and one of the sailors are killed. Ann screams as she is captured, and a roar beyond the wall responds. The matriarch of the tribe vows to sacrifice her to "Kong", a 25 ft. (8 m) tall gorilla. Englehorn and his crew break up the attack and return to the ship. They lighten their load to float off the rocks and carry out repairs, but Jack discovers Ann has been kidnapped. On the island, Ann is hung from a drawbridge on the side of the wall. The crew returns armed, but is too late as Kong takes Ann into the jungle. Ann wins Kong over with juggling and dancing, and begins to grasp Kong's intelligence and capacity for emotion.
Englehorn organizes a rescue party led by first mate Hayes. The rescue party is caught up in a pack of Venatosaurus saevidicus (dromaeosaur descendants, related to Velociraptors) hunting a herd of Brontosaurus baxteri (massive, plant-eating sauropods), and the cameraman is killed along with three sailors. The rest of the rescue party come across a swamp where Bruce Baxter and two others leave the group. While making their way across a giant fallen log, Kong attacks the rescue party. Hayes is killed and the rest of the crew are shaken off the log into a ravine, and Carl's camera is destroyed. Kong returns to Ann and rescues her from three Vastatosaurus rex, descendants of Tyrannosaurus rex, then takes her to his mountain lair. Englehorn, Baxter and the rest of the crew save the last three members of the rescue party from a pit of giant insects, and as Jack continues searching for Ann, Carl decides to capture Kong. Jack goes to Kong's lair, inadvertently waking him. As Kong fights a swarm of flying Terapusmordax, bat-like rodents, Ann and Jack escape. They arrive at the village wall with the angry Kong following them, and Ann becomes distraught by what Carl plans to do. Kong bursts through the gate and struggles to get her back, killing several sailors in the process, but is knocked out by chloroform.
In New York, in the early winter of 1933, Carl presents a chained Kong, the Eighth Wonder of the World on Broadway, starring Baxter and an imprisoned Kong. Ann has become an anonymous chorus girl. Camera flashes from photographers enrage Kong, who breaks free from his chrome-steel chains. Kong chases Jack in a taxi across town and knocks him out by stopping his taxi and flipping it, then encounters Ann again. Kong and Ann share a moment on a frozen pond in Central Park until the army attacks. Kong climbs with Ann onto the dome of the Empire State Building, where he fights off a flight of six Curtiss Falcon fighter planes, downing three. Kong is hit by several bursts of gunfire, and gazes at Ann for the last time before dying and falling from the building. Ann is greeted by Jack as reporters gather around Kong's corpse. Carl takes a last look and says, "It wasn't the airplanes. It was Beauty killed the Beast."