|Kong: Skull Island|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jordan Vogt-Roberts|
|Story by||John Gatins|
by Merian C. Cooper
|Music by||Henry Jackman|
|Edited by||Richard Pearson|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$566.7 million|
Kong: Skull Island is a 2017 American monster film directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts. The film is a reboot 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.
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 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 took place from October 2015 to March 2016 in Hawaii and various locations around Vietnam.
Kong: Skull Island was released on March 10, 2017, to positive reviews and was a box office success, grossing $168 million domestically and $566 million worldwide. The film was nominated for Best Visual Effects at the 90th Academy Awards. A crossover sequel, Godzilla vs. Kong, is scheduled to be released on May 22, 2020.
In 1944, two World War II fighter pilots, American pilot Hank Marlow and Japanese pilot Gunpei Ikari, parachute onto an island in the South Pacific after a dogfight and engage in close combat, but the fight is interrupted by a giant ape. In 1973, U.S. government agent Bill Randa hires former British Special Air Service Captain James Conrad, a skilled tracker, to guide an expedition to map out a recently discovered island known as Skull Island. They are escorted by Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard and his subordinates. The group is joined by anti-war photographer Mason Weaver, who believes that the expedition is a secret military operation, and intends to expose it.
Arriving at Skull Island, Packard's men begin dropping explosives, developed by seismologist Houston Brooks, to map out the island and prove his Hollow Earth theory. However, the air unit is attacked by the same ape from 1944, and scatters the survivors across the island. Packard regroups with some survivors, including Randa. After being confronted by Packard, Randa reveals his affiliation to the secret government organization Monarch, and its plan to use the expedition to prove the existence of monsters. Packard's group begins making their way to Chapman, Packard's right-hand man, whose helicopter crash-landed elsewhere. Meanwhile, the other group of survivors, led by Conrad, try to reach a rendezvous point to meet a resupply team arriving in three days.
Conrad's group eventually encounters the local Iwi natives and an older Marlow. Marlow reveals the ape is Kong, the island's guardian, worshiped as a god by the natives for protecting them from many predators, including two-legged, lizard-like subterranean monsters dubbed "Skullcrawlers". He informs them that Kong attacked and destroyed the air unit because their bombs brought them to the surface; the Skullcrawlers are responsible for killing Kong's ancestors, leaving him as the last of his kind. Marlow reveals that he and Ikari became friends, but Ikari was killed by a Skullcrawler some time ago.
Chapman is ambushed and devoured by a Skullcrawler, while Conrad's group helps Marlow complete a boat built from parts of Marlow and Ikari's downed planes. They ride down the river, and manage to secure communication with Packard's group. They regroup with Packard, who insists on searching for Chapman. Marlow leads them to a mass grave but are attacked by the same Skullcrawler that killed Chapman, killing Randa and others before dying in a flammable gas explosion triggered by Weaver. Learning about Chapman's death, Packard reveals his plan to kill Kong and avenge his fallen men. The group parts ways, with Packard's group retrieving weapons from Chapman's chopper and laying a trap for Kong at a nearby lake, while the non-military personnel head back to the boat.
While scouting the path ahead, Conrad and Weaver encounter Kong up close and, seeing his true peaceful nature, they resolve to save him. Packard's group lures Kong with the remaining seismic charges and incapacitates him with ignited napalm. Conrad, Weaver, and Marlow arrive and persuade the other soldiers to spare Kong, but Packard refuses. A massive Skullcrawler emerges from the lake, and Packard is crushed by Kong. The Skullcrawler overpowers Kong but the ape emerges victorious in the end. Conrad, Weaver, Marlow, and the few survivors reach the rendezvous point and leave the island.
During the credits, Marlow returns home, reuniting with his wife, meeting his son for the first time, and watching a Chicago Cubs game on television. In a post-credits scene, Conrad and Weaver are detained and recruited by Monarch. They are informed by Brooks that Kong is not the only monster king to roam the world and are shown archive footage of cave paintings depicting Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah.
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 voices Jerry.
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. Legendary then moved the project to Warner Bros. in order to develop a crossover film featuring King Kong and Godzilla.
Legendary offered Joe Cornish the job of directing the film, 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. In September 2014, the studio announced that Jordan Vogt-Roberts would direct the film.
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. 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.
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. It was later revealed that Dan Gilroy had also collaborated on the Borenstein/Gatins draft. On August 18, 2015, it was confirmed that Derek Connolly was also doing script rewrites. 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."
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. 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.
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. 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." 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."
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." However, biophysical analysis of Kong and other creatures concludes that although biophysically they are viable, the ecosystem of the island could not support them.
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."
At the same time of the announcement of Vogt-Roberts as director, the studio also announced that Tom Hiddleston would play the lead role. For a time both, JK Simmons and Michael Keaton were attached to roles however both left due to scheduling difficulties. On July 23, 2015, Brie Larson was cast in the film to play the female lead. On August 5, 2015, it was announced that Corey Hawkins was cast in the film to play a supporting role. 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.
On August 20, 2015, Toby Kebbell joined the cast of the film, while Jackson and Reilly were confirmed for roles. On August 25, 2015, Jason Mitchell joined the cast, to play a pilot. 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. On October 1, 2015, John Ortiz and Shea Whigham were added to the cast in unspecified roles. On October 13, 2015, Eugene Cordero joined the film, 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. 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.
Principal photography on the film began on October 19, 2015, and concluded on March 18, 2016. Filming took place in the northern portion of Vietnam, including Tràng An, Vân Long and Tam C?c (Ninh Bình Province), H? Long Bay (Qu?ng Ninh Province), and at the entrance of Tú Làn Caves System (Tân Hoá, Trung Hoá Village, Minh Hoá District Qu?ng 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. In mid-January 2016, filming started in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.
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." Vogt-Roberts also cited Princess Mononoke as an influence on the approach and design of the monsters. 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.
|Kong: Skull Island|
|Soundtrack album by Henry Jackman|
|Released||3 March 2017|
|Henry Jackman chronology|
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." 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 3 March 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."
|Kong: Skull Island (Original Soundtrack)|
|1.||"Time Has Come Today"||The Chambers Brothers||2:37|
|2.||"Mat Troi Den"||Minh Xuân||2:58|
|3.||"White Rabbit"||Jefferson Airplane||2:31|
|4.||"Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress"||The Hollies||3:15|
|5.||"Down On The Street"||The Stooges||3:44|
|8.||"Bad Moon Rising"||Creedence Clearwater Revival||2:21|
|9.||"Ziggy Stardust"||David Bowie||3:13|
|10.||"Run Through the Jungle"||Creedence Clearwater Revival||3:05|
|11.||"We'll Meet Again"||Vera Lynn||3:05|
All music composed by Henry Jackman.
|Kong: Skull Island (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)|
|5.||"Assembling the Team"||1:48|
|6.||"Into the Storm"||2:44|
|8.||"Kong the Destroyer"||3:43|
|14.||"Kong the Protector"||1:49|
|19.||"The Heart of Kong"||2:11|
|20.||"Man vs. Beast"||2:31|
|21.||"Creature from the Deep"||2:44|
|22.||"The Battle of Skull Island"||5:46|
|24.||"Monster Mash (Bonus track)"||1:27|
Kong: Skull Island was originally set a release date for November 4, 2016, but in December 2014, the release date was pushed back from its original release date of November 4, 2016, to March 10, 2017. The new release date coincides 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. The film premiered at the Cineworld Empire Leicester Square in London on February 28, 2017.
Kong: Skull Island has grossed $168 million in the United States and Canada and $398.6 million in other territories for a worldwide gross of $566.6 million. 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.
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. The film made $20.2 million on its first day from 3,846 theaters, including $3.7 million it made from Thursday night previews. In total, the film earned a better-than-expected $61 million on its opening weekend, defying the film's initial projection by 35%. In IMAX, it made $7.6 million from 382 theaters, repping 12.5% of the film's total opening weekend. 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.
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). 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. 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). After its overseas run, the film would gross US$398 million internationally.
Kong: Skull Island received generally positive reviews from critics. On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 75% based on 335 reviews, with an average rating of 6.5/10. 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." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 62 out of 100, based on 49 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.
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." 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.)"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." 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."
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." 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." 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."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." 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."
Several critics have commented on Larson's role in the movie, as she had recently won an Academy Award for Room, 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."
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipients||Result||Ref.|
|Teen Choice Awards||August 13, 2017||Choice Movie: Sci-Fi||Nominated|||
|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|||
|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|||
|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|||
|Saturn Awards||June 27, 2018||Best Fantasy Film||Thomas Tull, Mary Parent, Jon Jashni and Alex Garcia||Nominated|||
|Best Film Special / Visual Effects||Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza, Michael Meinardus||Nominated|
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. 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. To date, Kong: Skull Island sold $42 million worth of DVDs and Blu-rays in North America.
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. In October 2015, Legendary confirmed that they would unite Godzilla and King Kong in Godzilla vs. Kong, set for a release date of May 29, 2020. 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." While Legendary will maintain its home at Universal Pictures, it will continue to collaborate with Warner Bros. for the franchise.
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."