It's hard to think back to a year without blockbuster movies, and now we're having trouble counting the number of them each year. Each studio is in hot pursuit of finding their cash cows in the form of movie franchises. Such franchises can create buzz and anticipation for endless continuations of films. How many King Kong films have their been? Godzilla films? The hot ticket today seems to be superhero films from Marvel/Disney and DC, but Universal and Legendary Pictures are both convinced they have winning lotto numbers too. While they might not have all 5 numbers correct like Marvel/Disney, they're claiming their prize with their 4 numbers. They're bringing relevance back to epic monster movies.
After 4 films before reaching the 80's, the King Kong monster movie franchise took a back seat, not making another appearance until 2005 in Peter Jackson's "King Kong". Now that the technology has been used well in Peter Jackson's film, studios have all the reason to dust off some of the most iconic characters of all-time, who happen to be monsters. Ever since 2005's Kong hit theaters, people have been anticipating another film to add to that continuity. One of the better features of "King Kong" is the mysterious and majestic island from which Kong was taken, Skull Island.
Rumors have been swirling around for almost 10 years about a prequel for Kong, taking the adventure back to Skull Island and now it's happening, maybe just not in a way you'd expect.
Universal teamed up with Legendary Pictures for the 2014 film "Godzilla" directed by the skillful director Gareth Edwards. The Godzilla film really did an amazing job with its effects creating both real environments and real monsters for the film, and further established evidence that audiences will line up in masses to see these monster films.
In 2017 we will see the heavily anticipated "Kong: Skull Island", and these studios just might have a heavy weight contender to give superhero films at least a sparing partner. The film's story will center around the origins of King Kong on his island, and will have an all-star cast in Tom Hiddleston (who plays Loki in Marvel's Avengers films), Michael Keaton (coming off his genius performance in "Birdman"), and J.K. Simmons (who gave a world-class performance in "Whiplash").
Max Borenstein has provided the original script for the film, who previously wrote 2014's "Godzilla". The screenplay used for the 2017 film will be inked by John Gatins who recently penned "Flight" starring Denzel Washington. The film will be directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts (Successful Alcoholics), whose work I'm not familiar with yet.
One question I have is in what era will the film take us to? Actor J.K. Simmons said that part of the film will be set in Detroit, in the 70's. I'm not sure prequels are known to often go forward in time passed the timeline of the next one in continuity. Perhaps this is a means to create a flashback sequence? or a flash forward? Not sure how they'll make 1970's Detroit relevant for a character who died in the 30's, unless they're planning to ignore that. Here's the full statement by Simmons:
"When it first came to my attention, ‘There’s interest in you for a new King Kong,’ I thought, ‘Okay, why? I met with Jordan Vogt-Roberts who’s going to be directing it, and John Gatins who’s gonna be writing, and Tom [Hiddleston]—Jordan was just so passionate and so smart and there’s such an interesting new take on it, and it’s set in Detroit in 1971 which is where I grew up, and we’re gonna shoot in Detroit during baseball season and I’ll be able to go to Tigers games, so there’s a lot to like about this movie."
Another concerning tidbit of the statement is when he says "there's such an interesting new take on it". That draws in the distinct possibility that we might get a completely new Kong story separate from 2005. If that's the case, I think the studios will be creating an obvious doorway between 2 rooms, one room housing King Kong, and the other housing Godzilla. Fans of monster flicks have often loved to see their favorite monsters clash, and those fans mind get to see that soon. To add to this idea, it has already been stated within the official plot description:
"Legendary's story honors the foundations of existing King Kong lore, but places it in an entirely new, distinct timeline."
Well if you ask me, that's pretty clear that we're getting a modern King Kong, on a modern Skull Island, who will appear in modern cities, and likely to live in the same modern world as our other modern monsters.
Legendary announced less than a year ago that Legendary maintains opportunities "to take audiences deeper inside this rich world with a style and scope that parallels other Legendary productions."