Kong: Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island is a 2017 American monster film directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts and written by Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein and Derek Connolly. It is a reboot[4][5] of the King Kong franchise, and serves as the second film in Legendary's MonsterVerse. The film stars Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Larson, Jing Tian, Toby Kebbell, John Ortiz, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Shea Whigham, Thomas Mann, Terry Notary, and John C. Reilly. In the film, set in 1973, a team of scientists and Vietnam War soldiers travel to the uncharted Skull Island and encounter terrifying creatures before meeting the mighty Kong, a gigantic ape who is the last of his species.

Kong: Skull Island
Kong standing right front of the sun, near the hills and Soldiers chasing him in the water.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJordan Vogt-Roberts
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story byJohn Gatins
Based onKing Kong
by Merian C. Cooper
Edgar Wallace
Starring
Music byHenry Jackman
CinematographyLarry Fong
Edited byRichard Pearson
Production
company
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
Running time
118 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$185 million[2]
Box office$566.7 million[3]

The film was announced in July 2014 at San Diego Comic-Con and Vogt-Roberts was announced as the director in September 2014. The project originally began at Universal Pictures as an origin story but was later moved to Warner Bros. in order to develop a shared cinematic universe featuring Godzilla and King Kong. Principal photography began in October 2015 in Hawaii and various locations around Vietnam and ended in March 2016.

Kong: Skull Island was theatrically released on March 10, 2017 to positive reviews, with praise for its visual effects, action, and performances, particularly that of Jackson and Reilly. It was also a box office success, grossing $566 million worldwide.[6][7] The film was nominated for Best Visual Effects at the 90th Academy Awards. A sequel, Godzilla vs. Kong, is scheduled to be released on November 20, 2020.


PlotEdit

In the year 1944, somewhere over the South Pacific, Lieutenant Hank Marlow (Will Brittain) lands with his parachute on an island after his plane crashes. Another soldier, Gunpei Ikari (Miyavi), lands. Marlow draws his gun on Ikari and shoots but misses. Ikari takes out his gun and chases after Marlow. They run into the forest and fight when they go by a cliff. Ikari nearly impales Marlow with his sword, but Marlow pulls it away. Ikari then has Marlow on the ground and nearly kills him before a gigantic ape hand appears. The two men then see the ape (Terry Notary) rise above them.

In 1973, in Washington D.C., government official Bill Randa (John Goodman) and geologist Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins) arrive to meet with Senator Willis (Richard Jenkins) to receive funding for an expedition to a recently discovered location called Skull Island. Willis isn't too keen on the idea, but Randa goads him into relenting. Before leaving, Randa tells Willis he also would like a military escort.

The Sky Devils squadron are gathered on their last day before they can finally go home. Led by Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), they include Captain Earl Cole (Shea Whigham), Slivko (Thomas Mann), Reles (Eugene Cordero), Glenn Mills (Jason Mitchell), and Jack Chapman (Toby Kebell), who is Packard's right hand man. Packard receives the call for the expedition and gladly accepts the job.

Randa and Brooks go to a bar and find a former British Special Air Service captain named James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) to be their tracker. Conrad is confronted by two bar patrons who believe he cheated in a game of pool, but he easily subdues the men. Randa is immediately impressed, telling Brooks they've found their guide. Conrad sits with Randa and Brooks to hear their plan. When he hears their offer, he demands more money and points out that there's a good chance that the trip will get them killed for reasons involving severe weather conditions or predatory creatures.

Inside a darkroom, anti-war photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) is developing some photos she took of the conflict in Vietnam. She gets a call to join the expedition and she arrives at the base to meet with Packard and his men, plus a team of scientists from the company Landsat, including Brooks' fellow geologist San Lin (Jing Tian) and Landsat employees Victor Nieves (John Ortiz) and Steve (Marc Evan Jackson). Weaver has reservations about the mission and thinks the military is planning something bad. Brooks goes over the mission and what they hope to find on Skull Island.

The team sails into the ocean before taking choppers to the island. They must pass through clouds that produce hurricane-like conditions but are able to find a high-pressure pocket that they believe will be a safer route. After a turbulent ride through the storm, the choppers fly across the area. Weaver takes some pictures while the soldiers begin dropping seismic charges into the ground, setting off explosions. Almost immediately, a tree is thrown through one of the choppers, sending it crashing to the ground. The team then sees Kong towering over them. He sends another tree through a chopper before grabbing a few more and smashing them into the ground. The surviving team members are separated once they hit the ground. Amidst the flames burning from the remains of the choppers, Packard stares up at Kong, who looks down back at him.

Packard confronts Randa at gunpoint and demands to know what really brought them there. Randa admits that he had known about the existence of monsters like Kong for a while, and he is seeking proof for his organization, Monarch.

Conrad, Weaver, Brooks, Lin, Slivko, and Nieves are grouped together while Randa, Packard, Mills, Cole, and other soldiers set out to look for Chapman, as he is equipped with enough ammunition that Packard intends to use against Kong. As the soldiers walk through a bamboo forest forest, one soldier suddenly stops, a bamboo tree has impaled him through the mouth. Above them is a giant spider that starts attacking them. Mills is pulled up by the webbing, and the rest of the soldiers start cutting its legs off. Mills cuts himself loose, and Packard shoots the spider to death.

Chapman is by himself near a river. He sees Kong walking through the river to tend to a wound he sustained from the choppers' gunfire. Kong drinks from the river and then finds a giant octopus. He tangles with it, fighting off its tentacles before he starts to eat it. He then drags the octopus carcass away.

Conrad's group is cornered by a tribe of natives. As they try to defend themselves, out comes an older Marlow (now played by John C. Reilly). He assures both groups that they are not harmful to each other and then invites the group past the wall. Marlow explains to the group that he's been there for the last 28 years and has learned a lot about the natives and the island itself. Kong is like a god to them, as he has been protecting them from the creatures that dwell beneath the earth and have been killing off the natives for centuries, as well as Kong's own family. Marlow calls them "Skull Crawlers". They stayed underground until the explosions from the seismic charges woke them up. If anything happens to Kong, the Skull Crawlers will dominate the island. He also suggests that the Skull Crawlers that have come to the surface are just juveniles and that a much larger one exists.

Still alone, Chapman walks through the forest and sits on a log. The log turns out to be a giant insect. Chapman shoots at it, but the creature does not retaliate. As the creature leaves, Chapman is killed by a Skull Crawler.

Conrad tells Marlow that they plan to make it to their rendezvous point on the north side of the island within three days so that they may be rescued. Marlow says that it cannot be done in three days on foot, so he agrees to guide them the right way. He bids the natives farewell and takes the crew on a boat. Shortly after riding away, Nieves is snatched up by carnivorous birds and is torn apart midair.

Along the way, Weaver sees a huge water buffalo stuck under a crashed chopper. She tries lifting it up to free the buffalo, only for Kong to show up and pull the chopper off. He stares down at Weaver briefly and leaves. She appears more awed by him than terrified.

Marlow leads the group into The Forbidden Zone, which is a former battleground between Kong's ancestors and the Skull Crawlers. The enormous remains of Kong's family lie among the field. A Skull Crawler appears, forcing the group to hide. The Skull Crawler then spits out Chapman's skull and dog tags, which Conrad notices. Packard and his men come around the same area. Randa is taking pictures and is then snatched up and eaten by a Skull Crawler. Another beast shows up and starts to attack and pull victims in with its tongue. The groups continue their battle with the Skull Crawlers plus a wave of the carnivorous birds. Marlow takes out the sword that belonged to Ikari and slashes through several of the birds before handing it over to Conrad. Weaver kills one by tossing a lighter into a hole that produces fumes, which is ignited and sets the creature on fire.

After the fight, they regroup. Packard is still set on looking for Chapman. Conrad shows Packard Chapman's dog tags to confirm his demise. Still, Packard wants to look for Chapman's ammunition stash so that they can kill Kong; he is hellbent on revenge for the deaths of his men, despite the objections of Marlow, Conrad, and Weaver.

That night, Packard gathers explosives and lays a trap for Kong. Meanwhile, Conrad and Weaver encounter the beast, but Weaver approaches him cautiously. She places her hand on his face and he is gentle. However, Packard lures Kong toward him and ignites the fuel along the water, singeing and burning Kong's fur. Kong stomps on Steve and kills another man in the chaos before collapsing. Packard then gets ready to set off some explosives, but Conrad and Weaver try to stop him. They convince the other soldiers that they need Kong to keep the Skull Crawlers out. The soldiers turn on Packard, who remains defiant. Just then, the biggest Skull Crawler bursts out of the ground, forcing the group to run. Packard stays behind to detonate the explosives, but Kong crushes him under his fist.

The survivors then head toward the shore as the main Skull Crawler pursues them. Cole stays behind to sacrifice himself with the explosive devices he has strapped to himself. However, the monster tail-whips Cole into a wall and he blows up anyway. The Skull Crawler heads toward the group until Kong returns and smashes into the beast. Kong uses a ship's propeller attached to a length of anchor chain to would the beast, finally slashing it on the throat. The beast isn't dead and attacks again. Weaver takes a flare gun and hits the Skull Crawler in the face with it. Kong grabs the Skull Crawler and hurls him into the wall, accidentally knocking Weaver into the river. Kong pulls Weaver out and still fights the Skull Crawler. He rams his fist down the monster's throat and pulls out its guts. Kong then places Weaver down next to Conrad before leaving.

Shortly after, the survivors (Conrad, Weaver, Marlow, Brooks, Lin, Mills, Slivko, and Reles) depart on the boat, and three choppers show up to get them. In the distance, Kong keeps a lookout to continue protecting his territory. He pounds his fist and lets out a roar.

As the credits begin, we see video footage of Marlow finally returning home to Chicago where he sees his wife again and finally meets his adult son. He then sits down to watch a Cubs game with a hot dog and a beer.

After the credits, Conrad and Weaver are being held in an interrogation room by Monarch. Entering the room are Brooks and Lin, who tell the two that Kong was never the only monster out there and that this world did not always belong to humankind. Brooks pulls out some files, including a map of Tokyo, before putting on a slideshow. The slides show another crew coming across cave drawings of other monsters - Mothra, King Ghidorah, Rodan and Godzilla himself. The last thing we hear are the combined roars of Kong and Godzilla.

CastEdit

  • Tom Hiddleston as James Conrad:
    A former British Special Air Service Captain who served in the Vietnam War with the Australian Special Air Service Regiment, hired as a hunter-tracker for the expedition by Randa.[8] Hiddleston described his character as a man who holds "no political allegiance in the conflict" but "understands conflict", further stating, "He's a former soldier who has been formed by an understanding of war, but his specific skill set is something that's attached to the power of nature; and I think that's something people haven't seen in a long time".[9]
  • Samuel L. Jackson as Preston Packard:
    A United States Army Lieutenant Colonel and leader of the Sky Devils helicopter squadron, assigned to escort the group of explorers on the expedition. Jackson compares his character to Captain Ahab from Moby-Dick, stating, "He does have to exact some measure of revenge for the people he's lost. That's just the nature of how we operate—eye for an eye!".[9]
  • John Goodman as Bill Randa:
    A senior official in the government organization Monarch, who is in charge of the expedition.
  • Brie Larson as Mason Weaver:
    An anti-war photographer and investigative photojournalist. Larson stated that her character has her "own sort of motive" as to why she joined the expedition: "That's the interesting thing about this movie. It's a group of misfits that are all coming from different angles looking at the same thing. You get to see how many different views in regards to nature and how we should handle it are dealt with from many different perspectives".[9] Larson further added that Weaver has an "interest and respect for nature" and "Through that she has a closer, more loving, and intimate relationship with Kong".[9]
  • Jing Tian as San Lin:
    A biologist working for Monarch. According to Vogt-Roberts and Borenstein, her role was originally larger but had been reduced. Alison de Souza of the Straits Times wrote that in the final film Jing Tian's role would be described in Chinese as a "hua ping" (花瓶), meaning a vase, which refers to insignificant roles, and that she "hardly does or says a thing."[10]
  • Toby Kebbell as Jack Chapman:
    A United States Army major and Sea Stallion helicopter pilot who is Packard's right-hand man.[11]
  • John Ortiz as Victor Nieves:
    A senior Landsat official on the expedition.
  • Corey Hawkins as Houston Brooks:
    A geologist and Yale University graduate, recruited for the expedition by Monarch for his groundbreaking theories on seismology.[11] An older version portrayed by Joe Morton appears in Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
  • Jason Mitchell as Glenn Mills:
    A warrant officer and helicopter pilot of the Sky Devils and close friend of Cole.
  • Shea Whigham as Earl Cole:
    A seasoned Captain of the Sky Devils who wields an AK-47 instead of an M16 and close friend of Mills.
  • Thomas Mann as Reg Slivko:
    A warrant officer of the Sky Devils, known for carrying a portable record player.
  • Terry Notary and Toby Kebbell[12] as King Kong (mo-cap performance):
    A 104-foot-tall gorilla who is the last of his kind and is worshiped as the king and god on Skull Island by the Iwi natives.[13] Notary stated that this Kong is an adolescent and he tried to play Kong like a "14-year-old that's trapped in the life of an adult", stating that it took three days to film the motion capture scenes.[14] In addition to playing Chapman, Toby Kebbell also provided some facial references for Kong, stating, "I gave some facial reference – certain subtleties, certain looks. Terry and I worked on stuff together and created what Kong needed. I was just there as backup for pieces that Terry really wanted to get details on. It's a real honor to be asked by someone who's a great performer, to come and help support their performance."[15]
  • John C. Reilly as Hank Marlow:
    A U.S. Army Air Forces lieutenant of the 45th Pursuit Squadron who has been stranded for nearly 29 years on Skull Island since World War II. He knows the creatures of the island, and is a friend of the Iwi natives. Will Brittain portrays a young Hank Marlow, and also plays Marlow's son.

Additionally, Eugene Cordero appears as Reles, a warrant officer of the Sky Devils and Packard's door gunner; Marc Evan Jackson portrays Steve Woodward, a Landsat employee on the expedition; Richard Jenkins portrays Senator Al Willis, a politician who reluctantly funds the expedition; Miyavi portrays Gunpei Ikari, a Japanese World War II pilot who crash-lands on Skull Island alongside Marlow; and Robert Taylor portrays the captain of the Athena. Thomas Middleditch, who would go on to play a key role in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, voices Jerry.

ProductionEdit

DevelopmentEdit

Originally titled Skull Island, the film was announced by Legendary Pictures at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con, Universal Pictures was to be the distributor.[16] Legendary then moved the project to Warner Bros. in order to develop a crossover film featuring King Kong and Godzilla.[17][18][19]

Legendary offered Joe Cornish the job of directing the film,[20] while Peter Jackson, who directed the 2005 version of King Kong, suggested Guillermo del Toro, who Legendary worked with on Pacific Rim and Crimson Peak.[21] In September 2014, the studio announced that Jordan Vogt-Roberts would direct the film.[22]

WritingEdit

The script saw a number of screenwriters attached before filming. Seeking the continuity between the King Kong and Godzilla worlds, Max Borenstein (writer of 2014's Godzilla) wrote the first draft, while John Gatins was hired to write the second draft.[23] In writing the script, Borenstein didn't want to repeat the "Beauty and the Beast" plot synonymous with King Kong movies, and took into account the outdated elements of the treatment of the island natives and the damsel in distress. His initial influence was Apocalypse Now, revealing,

What popped into my head for the paradigm of the movie was Apocalypse Now. That's obviously a war movie, but I liked the idea of people moving upriver to face a misunderstood force that they think of as a villain, but ultimately they come to realize is much more complicated.

Before Vogt-Roberts signed on as director, Borenstein had the idea of having the film begin during the Vietnam War and jump forward to the present day. After it was rejected, Borenstein instead had the film take place before the original King Kong film in 1917 during World War I while keeping the Apocalypse Now concept, and the premise had Tom Hiddleston's character leading a rescue team to Skull Island to find his missing brother, who had gotten stranded there while searching for a "Titan Serum" believed to cure all illnesses. After this, the story was again retooled to take place in the present day.[24][25]

After Jordan Vogt-Roberts joined the project, he met with Borenstein and, liking the Apocalypse Now concept, pitched it to Legendary with the idea of the story taking place at the end of the Vietnam War, which the studio accepted.[26] It was later revealed that Dan Gilroy had also collaborated on the Borenstein/Gatins draft.[27] On August 18, 2015, it was confirmed that Derek Connolly was also doing script rewrites.[28] Borenstein worked a final pass on the screenplay before shooting began, and credited the screenplay to all of the writers, saying, "It was definitely collaborative in terms of what's on the screen, though none of us worked together. There are pieces of my work in there as well as the work of the other two writers and John Gatins, who was credited for story. Everybody had a really good hand in it."[24]

Gilroy revealed that many backstories and character moments were dropped from his draft, specifically for the characters of Mason Weaver and James Conrad, feeling that the film had room to explore them. Gilroy disclosed,

Brie's [character] was somebody who was really war-weary and had taken photographs for far too long. She didn't believe in anything – so the first time she saw Kong, it was like an awakening. She comes [back to life]. Tom [Hiddleston]'s character was a guy whose unit had been attacked by a big monster out of Vietnam – so he was in search of this thing. Instead of them approaching him at the bar and giving him a job, I had him like, 'I want on board.' I like those characters a lot… but they didn't want to go with that.

Despite these ideas being dropped, Gilroy felt the film turned out to be a "good movie" regardless.[29] In April 2016, artist Joe DeVito sued producers of the film for using elements of his Skull Island universe, which he claimed that he created and the producers used without his permission.[30]

Creature designEdit

 
Kong as designed for Kong: Skull Island

Director Vogt-Roberts stated that he wanted Kong to look simple and iconic enough that a third grader could draw him, and the image would still be recognizable.[31] Vogt-Roberts also wanted Kong to feel like a "lonely god, he was a morose figure, lumbering around this island," and took the design back to the 1933 incarnation, where Kong was presented as a "bipedal creature that walks in an upright position."[31] Vogt-Roberts additionally stated, "If anything, our Kong is meant to be a throwback to the '33 version. [Kong] was a movie monster, so we worked really hard to take some of the elements of the '33 version, some of those exaggerated features, some of those cartoonish and iconic qualities, and then make them their own…We created something that to some degree served as a throwback to the inspiration for what started all of this, but then also [had] it be a fully unique and different creature that – I would like to think – is fully contained and identifiable as the 2017 version of King Kong. I think there are very modern elements to him, yet hopefully, he feels very timeless at the same time."[31]

Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke helped influence the design and approach of the monsters, Vogt-Roberts stated, "Miyazaki['s] Princess Mononoke was actually a big reference in the way that the spirit creatures sort of have their own domains and fit within that. So a big thing [was] trying to design creatures that felt realistic and could exist in an ecosystem that feels sort of wild and out there, and then also design things that simultaneously felt beautiful and horrifying at the same time."[9]

The two-armed pit lizard from the 1933 King Kong film was used as a reference for the Skullcrawlers. They were also inspired by a number of other cinematic creatures; Vogt-Roberts stated, "That creature, beyond being a reference to a creature from the 1933 film, is also this crazy fusion of all of the influences throughout my life – like the first angel from Evangelion, and No-Face from Spirited Away, and Cubone from Pokémon."[32]

CastingEdit

 
The cast and director of Kong: Skull Island at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con to promote the film

At the same time of the announcement of Vogt-Roberts as director, the studio also announced that Tom Hiddleston would play the lead role.[22] For a time, both J. K. Simmons and Michael Keaton were attached to roles; however, both left due to scheduling difficulties.[33][34][35] On July 23, 2015, Brie Larson was cast in the film to play the female lead.[36] On August 5, 2015, it was announced that Corey Hawkins was cast in the film to play a supporting role.[27] On August 6, 2015, Deadline Hollywood reported that the studio was in early talks with Samuel L. Jackson to replace the role which Simmons vacated, while John C. Reilly was being eyed for Keaton's role, but not offered it yet. Tom Wilkinson was also offered a role in the film.[37]

On August 20, 2015, Toby Kebbell joined the cast of the film, while Jackson and Reilly were confirmed for roles.[38] Jackson's deal was worth five million dollars.[39] On August 25, 2015, Jason Mitchell joined the cast, to play a pilot.[40] On September 25, 2015, John Goodman was cast to play Randa, a government official and leader of an expedition, and Thomas Mann was also cast.[41][42] On October 1, 2015, John Ortiz and Shea Whigham were added to the cast in unspecified roles.[43] On October 13, 2015, Eugene Cordero joined the film,[44] and on November 2, 2015, it was announced Will Brittain had joined the cast, portraying a pilot, in one of the last key leads in the film.[45] In May 2016, Toby Kebbell revealed that Terry Notary would portray Kong through motion capture, and that Kebbell provided some guidance for Kong's motion capture sequences.[11]

FilmingEdit

Principal photography on the film began on October 19, 2015, and concluded on March 18, 2016.[46] Filming took place in the northern portion of Vietnam, including Tràng An, Vân Long and Tam Cốc (Ninh Bình Province), Hạ Long Bay (Quảng Ninh Province), and at the entrance of Tú Làn Caves System (Tân Hoá, Trung Hoá Village, Minh Hoá District Quảng Bình Province), the island of Oahu in Hawaii, and Australia's Gold Coast. Locations included Honolulu's Chinatown, and at the Kualoa Ranch and Waikane Valley (Ohulehule Forest Conservancy) on Oahu.[47][48] In mid-January 2016, filming started in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.[49][50]

InfluencesEdit

Vogt-Roberts has cited a number of films that inspired Kong: Skull Island, stating, "If I were going to break it down for people, I'd say you obviously have Apocalypse Now and just the era of '70s filmmaking, with films like The Conversation, too. Also Platoon was an inspiration, and the South Korean film The Host as well. The entire Neon Genesis Evangelion series was a big influence."[32] Vogt-Roberts also cited Princess Mononoke as an influence on the approach and design of the monsters.[9] He cited Sachiel from Neon Genesis Evangelion, Cubone from Pokémon, No-Face from Spirited Away, and a creature from the 1933 King Kong as inspirations for the Skullcrawlers.[32]

MusicEdit

Kong: Skull Island
Soundtrack album by
Released3 March 2017 (2017-03-03)
Recorded2017
GenreFilm score
Length56:56
LabelWaterTower Music
Henry Jackman chronology
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
(2016)
Kong: Skull Island
(2017)
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
(2017)
MonsterVerse chronology
Godzilla
(2014)
Kong: Skull Island
(2017)
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
(2019)

The score was composed by Henry Jackman. Since the film takes place in the 1970s, Jackman blended '70s psychedelic guitars into the score. "The great thing about a monster movie is that it opens the door to use the symphony orchestra in its most sumptuous way," Jackman says. "[Director] Jordan [Vogt-Roberts] was happy to celebrate the gravity and history that comes with a full orchestra, but we also explored less traditional elements. That's a field day for a composer."[51] The score was recorded at AIR Lyndhurst Studios together with the London Voices and conducted by Gavin Greenaway, with additional music by Alex Belcher, Halli Cauthery and Stephen Hilton. The soundtrack was digitally released on March 3, 2017 through WaterTower Music.

Regarding the music used in the film, Vogt-Roberts stated, "I wanted to use songs from the Vietnam era and a myriad of hits from the '70s... [T]his provides a striking dichotomy, sets the tone and gives us great moments of fun. The music, which serves to both heighten the film's emotion and underscore the action, was one of the final creative elements to fall into place during post-production. It was the culmination of a massive undertaking that had taken the production to three continents."[51]

All music is composed by Henry Jackman.

ReleaseEdit

MerchandiseEdit

The merchandise for the film was a Walmart exclusive in 2017. A large Kong figure was the main toy featuring a Jack Chapman with a missile launcher. In addition to Walmart selling the toys, Amazon.com sells them too. Also, two costumes for Kong were made and sold during Halloween. One of them is a standard costume while the other was an inflatable Kong suit.

On April 7, 2017, a four-issue graphic novel series called Skull Island: The Birth of Kong was announced. Acting as both a prequel and sequel to the film, an adult Houston Brooks nearing retirement from Monarch in 2012 learns that his estranged missing son with San Lin, Aaron, led a team of Monarch agents on a secret mission to Skull Island in the mid-1990s; uncovering the secrets of Kong's past and how he became the last of his kind.[52] Written by Arvid Nelson with interior and cover art by Mohammad "Zid" Yazid (issue No. 4 cover art done by Drew Johnson), the four-issue series was released between April 12 and November 21, 2017. On December 12, 2017, a paperback collection was released. A novelization by Tim Lebbon was released on March 14, 2017.[53]

TheatricalEdit

Kong: Skull Island was originally scheduled to be released on November 4, 2016, but was pushed back to March 10, 2017. The new release date coincided with the franchise's 84th anniversary. It was released in 3D and IMAX 3D, as well as in Dolby Vision High Dynamic Range, and Dolby Atmos sound in Dolby Cinemas and presented in 70mm.[54][55] The film premiered at the Cineworld Empire Leicester Square in London on February 28, 2017.[56][57]

Home mediaEdit

Kong: Skull Island was released on HD Digital on June 20, 2017, and on 4K Ultra HD, 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray and DVD on July 18, 2017.[58] The film debuted at the top of the NPD VideoScan First Alert sales chart and the dedicated Blu-ray chart for the week ending on July 23, 2017.[59] To date, Kong: Skull Island has sold $45 million worth of DVDs and Blu-rays in North America.[60]

ReceptionEdit

Box officeEdit

Kong: Skull Island grossed $168 million in the United States and Canada and $398.6 million in other territories for a worldwide gross of $566.6 million.[3] Made on a production budget of $185 million, with about $136 million more spent on global marketing costs, the film needed to make at least $450–500 million worldwide in order to break-even.[61][62][63]

In the United States and Canada, Kong: Skull Island was projected to gross $40–50 million in its opening weekend, as well as a worldwide debut of $110–135 million.[2][64] The film made $20.2 million on its first day from 3,846 theaters, including $3.7 million it made from Thursday night previews.[65] In total, the film earned a better-than-expected $61 million on its opening weekend, defying the film's initial projection by 35%.[66][61] In IMAX, it made $7.6 million from 382 theaters, repping 12.5% of the film's total opening weekend.[66] In its second weekend the film grossed $27.8 million (a drop of 54.4%), finishing second at the box office behind newcomer Beauty and the Beast.[67]

Internationally, the film debuted with $85.1 million from 20,900 screens in 65 markets. It opened in every market except Japan and China. In IMAX, the film scored the fourth-biggest March release with $4.8 million from 672 theaters (the second biggest without China in it).[68] The biggest openings came from the United Kingdom, Ireland ($7.6 million), South Korea ($7.4 million), Russia ($6.2 million), Mexico ($5.7 million), France ($4.1 million), Taiwan ($3.6 million), Australia ($3.6 million), Brazil ($3.4 million), Germany ($3.4 million), Malaysia ($2.65 million), India ($2.4 million), Spain ($1.6 million) and Italy ($1.6 million), while in Vietnam (where the film was primarily shot and set), it scored the biggest opening of all time there with $2.5 million. This was the week after a huge model of the primate outside the theater caught on fire at the film's premiere.[61][68] The film would eventually open in China with $71.6 million (its largest international market) and in Japan with $3.5 million, where the film was released as King Kong: Giant God of Skull Island (Kingu Kongu: Dokurotou no Kyoshin).[69] After its overseas run, the film would gross US$398 million internationally.[70]

Critical responseEdit

Kong: Skull Island received generally positive reviews from critics.[71][72] On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 75% based on 371 reviews, with an average rating of 6.53/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Offering exhilarating eye candy, solid acting, and a fast-paced story, Kong: Skull Island earns its spot in the movie monster's mythos without ever matching up to the classic original."[73] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 62 out of 100, based on 49 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[74] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[75]

Michael Phillips of The Chicago Tribune lauded the film, giving it three-and-a-half stars out of four: "I saw little in [Vogt-Roberts'] first feature to indicate the deftness and buoyant spirit he brings to Skull Island. This time, the money's on the screen, but it bought a really good movie, too."[76] Mike Ryan of Uproxx gave the film a positive review, noting, "Kong: Skull Island is still a hoot. It was a movie that was not at all on my radar as something I was dying to see and yet I had way too much fun watching it. I just wished it had embraced its craziness just a little bit more. (But, yes, there's still plenty of crazy to go around.)"[77] Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a positive review as well, stating that "all the requisite elements are served up here in ideal proportion, and the time just flies by, which can rarely be said for films of this nature."[78] Kyle Anderson of Nerdist News found the film entertaining but flawed, saying, "It's certainly not a perfect movie, and a lot of the characters feel like sketches more than fully-fledged people, but it roars along enjoyably from start to finish."[79]

Conversely, Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian awarded the film one out of five stars. In his negative review, he described the movie as a "fantastically muddled and exasperatingly dull quasi-update of the King Kong story."[80] Matthew Lickona of The San Diego Reader also gave the film one out of five stars, writing: "It's fun to watch [the monsters] in action, but on the human side, the film is clumsily written, over-cast and underacted, with only frustrated soldier Samuel L. Jackson striking the right tone of crazy amid the chaos."[81] Chris Klimek of NPR mentions how "Kong is at its mediocre best when it pretends to be a nature documentary about Skull Island's bizarro flora and fauna," but lamented how "every time the movie threatens to get interesting, one of its hordes of ersatz, non-animated characters shows up and starts talking again."[82] Anthony Lane of The New Yorker noted that what the film "yearns to be, is a pop-culture Apocalypse Now, with the human foe removed, the political parable toned down, and the gonzo elements jacked up."[83] J.R. Jones questioned the film's setting, saying "this Jurassic Park knockoff takes place neither in the Depression era, which gave us the original King Kong, nor in the present, when satellite photos would surely alert us to the existence of a 100-foot gorilla. Instead—and for no reason I can fathom, except perhaps the classic-rock tunes desired for the soundtrack—the story takes place in 1973, when the Vietnam war is winding down and President Nixon is being driven from office."[84]

Several critics have commented on Larson's role in the movie, as she had recently won an Academy Award for Room,[85] with Michael Salfino of The Wall Street Journal remarking that "a starring role in a popcorn movie on the heels of a passion project can open up an actor to ridicule."[86]

AccoladesEdit

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipients Result Ref.
Teen Choice Awards August 13, 2017 Choice Movie: Sci-Fi Nominated [87]
Choice Movie Actor: Sci-Fi Tom Hiddleston Nominated
Choice Movie Actress: Sci-Fi Brie Larson Nominated
Annie Award February 3, 2018 Outstanding Achievement for Character Animation in a Live Action Production Jance Rubinchik, Adrian Millington, Alberto Martinez Arce, Kyle Winkelman Nominated [88]
Visual Effects Society Awards February 13, 2018 Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature Jeff White, Tom Peitzman, Stephen Rosenbaum, Scott Benza, Michael Meinardus Nominated [89]
Outstanding Animated Character in a Photoreal Feature Jakub Pistecky, Chris Havreberg, Karin Cooper, Kris Costa for "Kong" Nominated
Outstanding Effects Simulations in a Photoreal Feature Florent Andorra, Alexis Hall, Raul Essig, Branko Grujcic Nominated
Outstanding Compositing in a Photoreal Feature Nelson Sepulveda, Aaron Brown, Paolo Acri, Shawn Mason Nominated
Academy Awards March 4, 2018 Best Visual Effects Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza, Michael Meinardus Nominated [90]
Saturn Awards June 27, 2018 Best Fantasy Film Thomas Tull, Mary Parent, Jon Jashni and Alex Garcia Nominated [91]
Best Film Special / Visual Effects Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza, Michael Meinardus Nominated

SequelEdit

In September 2015, Legendary moved Kong: Skull Island from Universal to Warner Bros., which sparked media speculation that Godzilla and King Kong will appear in a film together.[92][93] In October 2015, Legendary confirmed that they would unite Godzilla and King Kong in Godzilla vs. Kong. Legendary plans to create a shared cinematic franchise "centered around Monarch" that "brings together Godzilla and Legendary's King Kong in an ecosystem of other giant super-species, both classic and new."[94]

Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts had expressed interest in doing a film about Marlow and Gunpei's time on the island, stating, "I keep joking that personally I'm more interested in doing a $30 million version of young John C. Reilly on the island. Just some weird, the odd-ball monster comedy with him and Gunpei."[95]

Godzilla vs. Kong is scheduled to be released on March 13, 2020.[96] On November 25, 2019, the film was pushed from its original March 13, 2020 release to November 20, 2020.[97]

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External linksEdit