After the worldwide success of Director/Producer Peter Jackson’s King Kong franchise rebirth (2005), it comes as no surprise that talks have been circulating of a second film of equally epic proportion. Movie rumor blog sites across the vast span of the Internet have recently exploded in a frenzied flutter of details on an upcoming flick to be based on graphic novel author/artist Joe DeVito’s Kong: King of Skull Island bestseller (Dark Horse Comics Publishers, December 2004). This one-of-a-kind hardback made waves through American pop culture as news of Jackson’s film simultaneously began generating buzz. Interestingly enough, the storyline of the novel serves as both a prequel and sequel to the original Kong plot so many fans and moviegoers are familiar with.
Kong: King of Skull Island takes us back to the savage Skull Island, Kong’s original home and birthplace, and alternates between his early origins here and a more modern story involving Jack Driscoll (played by actor Adrian Brody in Jackson’s flick). Along with Vincent Denham, son of Carl Denham (actor Jack Black), Driscoll decides to return to the mysterious island, twenty-five years after the beast’s tragic and deadly fall from atop the Empire State Building, with the hopes of investigating Carl’s original disappearance and Kong’s early origins. Needless to say, there are plenty of vicious encounters with prehistoric dinosaurs and epic battle clashes between Kong and behemoth creatures from the dark jungle depths. While on the island, Driscoll and Denham come to learn the primordial beginnings of the mainland natives, all the while attempting to answer questions that have spanned half a century.
Variety recently reported that Spirit Pictures acquired the film adaptation rights to DeVito’s graphic novel and were interested in reintroducing the Kong legend to the silver screen (Graser, Marc: “Spirit Seeks out King Kong Story.” www.variety.com. July 26, 2009). Interestingly, Spirit executive producers and directors seem to have somewhat of a unique, and potentially unpopular, idea on how to cinematically execute this next franchise installment. Whereas Jackson’s live-action film employed the use of WETA-powered special effects, also seen in acclaimed films such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Chronicles of Narnia sagas, Kong: King of Skull Island will make use of motion capture technology. Although you may have never heard of such a process, odds are you’ve seen it in films such as Director Robert Zemeckis’ The Polar Express (2004) and Beowulf (2007). It more resembles computer animation than real life action.
Producer Steve Iles of Spirit Pictures recently remarked on his desire to remain true to the original source material and vision of Director/Producer Merain C. Cooper’s 1933 King Kong: “We’re very concerned with honoring Merian C. Cooper’s legacy in Hollywood. We want to make sure that whatever we deliver will honor his memory.” (Variety). Iles is perhaps best known for his work in the video game world, particularly with the Star Wars and Pirates of the Caribbean franchises, which he oversees via his Pocket Studios gaming company. It remains unclear as to whether or not he will be attached to the Kong project in any way in terms of directing or producing.
Screenwriter Andy Briggs will be penning the plot for the anticipated film, as well as the script and story for Spirit Pictures’ War Eagles, a project originally co-envisioned by Merian C. Cooper and Ray Harryhausen. The Hollywood duo was set to produce the film, but was unfortunately set back by the violent outbreak of WWII. The action-packed thriller centers on an “ace fighter pilot who tests a new jet and winds up crash-landing in the arctic, where he encounters a lost civilization that’s been thriving there for centuries.” (Variety).
For now, Kong: King of Skull Island has no official release date, as it still remains in preproduction status. For a more in-depth reading of the storyline behind the novel, visit: www.kongskullisland.com.