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|“||All hail the King||„|
— Film's tagline
Kong: Skull Island is a 2017 film co-produced by Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. that serves as an origin story for King Kong. It is the second entry in the MonsterVerse, following 2014's Godzilla, and will be followed by 2019's Godzilla: King of the Monsters, before culminating with 2021's Godzilla vs. Kong. In the film, set in 1973, a team of scientists and Vietnam War soldiers travel to Skull Island, an uncharted island in the South Pacific inhabited by terrifying and bizarre wildlife before encountering the mighty Kong, a gigantic ape worshipped as a god by natives who must defend his home by fighting a horde of monstrous reptilian super-species known as Skullcrawlers, who are responsible for the extinction of Kong's kind.
The film opens with a prologue during World War II, showing an American bailing out of his damaged P-51 Mustang. He encounters a Japanese pilot on the beach and briefly fights him, but as they struggle with a sword, a massive creature suddenly appears, looming over the two as the title credits roll when the camera zooms into the American soldier’s eye.
In 1973, as the Vietnam War dies down, former British Special Air Service Captain James Conrad is hired by government agent Bill Randa to guide an expedition to map out a mysterious uncharted region in the Pacific dubbed "Skull Island", which has never been mapped due to perpetual storms surrounding it. Randa also recruits the Sky Devils, a helicopter squadron led by Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard and prominently made up of his right-hand, Major Jack Chapman and Captain Earl Cole to escort them to the island. The group is soon joined by "anti-war" photographer Mason Weaver, who is assigned to take pictures of the expedition, when in reality, she plans to expose it as the covert military operation she believes it to be.
Arriving on Skull Island, Packard's men begin dropping explosives developed by seismologist Houston Brooks to determine if the ground is hollow, despite Conrad's objections. The helicopters are suddenly attacked by a 100 foot-tall ape which goes by the name of Kong. All of the helicopters are destroyed as the beast throws a palm tree into one, and swats them out of the air like flies, and the survivors end up being split into small groups. Amidst Kong's rampage, Packard stares up at Kong, interlocking eyes with him, filled with rage. The survivors' only hope for rescue is a resupply team that will meet them at the island's northern end in three days.
When confronted by Packard, Randa reveals his affiliation to the secret government organization Monarch and the expedition's true purpose to acquire proof of the existence of forgotten monsters. Packard and his remaining men bury their dead comrades and begin searching for the missing members of the expedition, including Chapman. Along the way, they overcome a Mother Longlegs, slicing off its bamboo-like legs which topple it over, allowing Packard to finish it off with gunfire. In a river nearby, Chapman is washing and filling his water canteen, until Kong appears. Chapman flees, leaving Kong tending his wounds and drinking after his battle with the Sky Devils. He is then suddenly attacked by a Mire Squid, which he manages to kill and proceeds to eat before leaving the river with its carcass.
Meanwhile, Conrad, Weaver, Brooks, biologist San Lin, soldier Reg Slivko, and Landsat employee Victor Nieves run into the local Iwi natives and meet Hank Marlow, revealed to be the missing pilot who crash-landed on the island in 1944 with a Japanese pilot named Gunpei Ikari. Marlow explains that Kong is the island's guardian and worshiped by the natives for protecting them from the Skullcrawlers, reptilian underground monsters who have slaughtered Kong's ancestors, leaving him as the sole survivor. Marlow reveals Kong only attacked the helicopters to prevent the bombs from awakening the largest and deadliest of the Giant Skullcrawlers, dubbed by Marlow as "The Big One". He also reveals that "The Big One" will doom everyone and everything on the island should anything happen to Kong. After bonding with the natives, Weaver encounters a Sker Buffalo trapped under a fallen helicopter just outside the village. She struggles vainly to free the large beast but Kong comes and saves the buffalo, exchanging glances with Weaver before departing. Marlow shows Conrad and the others a boat made from parts of Marlow's and Ikari's planes when they befriended before Ikari was killed by a Skullcrawler, and they spend the rest of the day fixing it.
The following day, Conrad's group sets off down the river in the now-functioning boat, where they are beset by Psychovultures, which carry off and devour Nieves. The survivors manage to regroup with Packard, who insists on searching for Chapman, who - unbeknownst to them - has already been killed by a Skullcrawler after encountering a Spore Mantis. Marlow reluctantly leads both Conrad and Packard's team to the Boneyard, a forgotten battleground between Kong's ancestors and Skullcrawlers. The same Skullcrawler that killed Chapman attacks the group, killing Randa and many of Packard's men before Weaver kills it by triggering an explosion using Conrad's lighter. Despite learning of Chapman's death, a vengeful Packard blames Kong for the deaths of his men. Despite everyone else's warnings, Packard insisted on going to the crash site nonetheless. Marlow tried to persuade him, with Gunpei Ikari's Katana, only for Packard to knock him aside, under the implication that he would kill him if he interfered, along with anyone else thinking along the same lines. Eventually, Packard retrieves seismic explosives to lure Kong into a trap and kill him, while Conrad resolves to lead the non-military personnel back to the boat so they can rendezvous with the resupply team.
Later that night, while scouting the path ahead atop a high ledge, Conrad and Weaver encounter Kong up-close, seeing that he is, in fact, a gentle and intelligent creature who does have a soft spot for those that do him no harm. Suddenly, explosions sound off in the distance and Kong goes toward them. Knowing of Packard's vendetta, Conrad tells Brooks and San to return to the boat while he and Weaver resolve to save Kong, a sentiment that Marlow shares. Kong finds Packard and his men at a lake and charges toward the colonel on the other side. Having previously dumped napalm into the lake, Packard sets it ablaze, setting Kong on fire and incapacitating him as his men watch in horror. He orders his men to set explosives around the fallen creature, but before he can finish Kong off, Conrad, Weaver, and Marlow arrive and a standoff ensues. Conrad and Weaver convince the other soldiers to spare Kong, but Packard furiously refuses, still seeking vengeance for his fallen men. Suddenly a massive Skullcrawler emerges from beneath the lake in the swamp near the fallen Kong. Marlow identifies this as “The Big One”. Terrified, everyone flees except Packard, who tries to detonate the explosives in a last act of revenge, but it is too late, as Kong wakes up and crushes him with his fist.
Injured, Kong is overpowered by the massive opponent, which then chases the survivors as they race towards the shore and dawn comes. Cole tries to sacrifice himself to ensure the survival of his young comrades, arming grenades to supposedly kill the Skullcrawler after it eats him. However, the creature does not fall for this, and it swats him away with its tail, killing him as the grenades explode on the side of a mountain but Cole's sacrifice buys enough time for Kong to return and save the others, smashing a giant boulder against the Skullcrawler's head. Weaver climbs a tall cliff and fires a flare to guide Brooks and San to their location. Kong battles the Skullcrawler, at one point swinging a massive tree against its face. However, the Skullcrawler uses its tail to throw Kong into a sunken boat and he gets entangled in its chains. As the Skullcrawler closes in for the kill, Brooks and San arrive on the boat and open fire on the beast. Enraged, he turns his attention to the humans, buying Kong enough time to break free. Weaver fires a flare at the Skullcrawler, destroying its right eye, and Conrad lures it away from the people on the boat. Using a boat propeller attached to a chain, Kong impales the massive Skullcrawler with it, uses the chain to reel him in, and throws the Skullcrawler into the side of the cliff Weaver is standing on, accidentally causing her to fall into the river. Then Kong uses the propeller to slice open his adversary's throat, seemingly killing him.
Weaver almost drowns but she is rescued by Kong. Unfortunately, the giant Skullcrawler is still alive and it attacks Kong with Weaver clutched in his hand. In an attempt to devour Weaver, the Skullcrawler wraps his tongue around Kong's arm and pulls it down his throat. They had a struggle but Kong violently yank of the Skullcrawler's tongue, tears out the creature's innards, finally killing him for good, avenging the deaths of his parents, and the extinction of the rest of his kind. With the creature finally dead, Kong gently sets Weaver down, looks back at her and Conrad and wanders off, peacefully allowing the surviving humans to leave. As helicopters arrive to take the survivors home, Kong reappears. Watching them leave in his eye, Kong beats his chest and roars fiercely, asserting his reign as the King of Skull Island.
Some time afterward, Marlow returns home and is reunited with his wife and meets his now-adult son for the first time. He is later shown enjoying a beer and a hot dog as he watches his long-missed favorite sports on TV.
In a post-credits scene, Conrad and Weaver are held in a room by Monarch, where Brooks reveals they have been recruited by the organization. Brooks and San debrief them that Kong is not the only monster to roam the world and not the only king. They are then shown archive footage showing cave paintings, depicting silhouetted images, which appear to be a bipedal spiked dinosaur-like creature, a winged pterosaur-like creature, a gigantic butterfly, and a three-headed dragon, before showing one final painting of the dinosaur and the three-headed dragon engaged in combat. The screen fades to black and a loud, familiar roar is heard: none other than that of the King of the Monsters himself...Godzilla.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts
- Written by Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, Derek Connolly, John Gatins
- Produced by Jon Jashni, Alex Garcia, Thomas Tull, Mary Parent
- Co-producer Tom Peitzman
- Story by John Gatins and Dan Gilroy
- Screenplay by Dan Gilroy and Max Borenstein
- Executive Producers Eric McLeod and Edward Cheng
- Casting by Sarah Halley Finn
- Music by Henry Jackman
- Director of Photography Larry Fong
- Film Editor Richard Pearson
- Production Designer Stefan Dechant
- Special Effects by
- Special Effects Supervisor
- Costume Designer Mary Vogt
- Sound Designer
- Motion Capture Consultants
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
On July 28, at Comic-Con 2014, the film's release date was originally announced to be November 4, 2016, with Joe Cornish being offered to direct it. Pitched as a King Kong origin story, the film's original title was simply "Skull Island". 
For the script, Borenstein was inspired by Apocalypse Now. He sought not to repeat the "Beauty and the Beast" plotline from the previous King Kong films, and update the elements of the treatment of the Skull Island natives and the damsel-in-distress. Before Vogt-Roberts signed on, Borenstein's script had the film begin during the Vietnam War and jump forward to the present day. After it was rejected, the film took place before the original King Kong film in 1917 during World War I instead while keeping the initial Apocalypse Now concept. The story involved the brother of Tom Hiddleston's character being stranded on Skull Island while searching for a "Titan Serum" believed to cure all illnesses, after which Hiddleston's character would lead a rescue team to Skull Island. After this, the story was changed again to take place in the present day. During a meeting with Borenstein after joining the film, Vogt-Roberts pitched the film to Legendary with the Apocalypse Now concept and having it take place at the end of the Vietnam War, and the studio accepted it.
On December 12, the film's release date was later pushed back to March 6, 2017, and the movie was re-titled to Kong: Skull Island.
On January 15, J.K. Simmons told MTV that the film will take place in Detroit in 1971.
On July 1, it was announced J.K. Simmons and Michael Keaton left the film due to scheduling conflicts.
On September 10, it was reported that Legendary Pictures had moved production of the film from Universal Pictures, with whom it currently holds a distribution deal, to its former partner Warner Bros., with whom it had an agreement to distribute the sequels to 2014's Godzilla in the future, supposedly to keep both properties under the same distributor. This immediately spawned rumors that Legendary planned to eventually produce a remake of King Kong vs. Godzilla with Warner Bros., although neither studio provided a statement.
On September 16, multiple sources reported that Thomas Tull had wanted to set up a film featuring both Kong and Godzilla for years and planned to include references to Monarch, the monster-studying organization from Godzilla, in the script for Kong: Skull Island. However, Warner Bros. was reportedly uncomfortable with including references to one of their films in a Universal project, so Legendary moved the entire project to Warner Bros. None of these reports were confirmed by any of the studios, and no official statement was made about the possibility of a King Kong and Godzilla crossover film for nearly a month. Guillermo Del Toro made a statement the next day confirming that Pacific Rim 2, the sequel to Legendary and WB's 2013 kaiju film Pacific Rim, had been indefinitely delayed due to the shuffling of the King Kong and Godzilla properties, but was not at all canceled and was still being actively worked on.
|“||The story is about a man (Hiddleston) who travels to the mythical island after his brother is stranded there trying to retrieve the mythical serum Titan which is believed to be the cure for all illnesses and diseases. The man must lead a rescue team to save his brother while confronting the creatures that inhabit the island.||„|
— Early plot synopsis
On April 28, it was reported that artist Joe DeVito had sued Legendary for a breach of contract. He claimed both companies allegedly "stole" his pitch ideas and developed them into a feature film without his permission or any due credit. He was seeking $3.5 million general and punitive damages.
On May 11, in an interview conducted with Entertainment Weekly, actor Toby Kebbell clarified his role in the film. Kebbell plays an Air Force major named Chapman, who spends most of his time in the film with Samuel L. Jackson's character. It had been widely speculated that Kebbell would have been portraying Kong through motion capture, due to his portrayal of the ape character Koba in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes through motion capture alongside Andy Serkis, who had portrayed Kong in the 2005 film. Kebbell revealed that in Kong: Skull Island, Kong will be primarily portrayed by motion-capture actor Terry Notary, although Kebbell did assist Notary in the motion capture process and provided reference for some of the character's facial animations.
On July 15, an exclusive image of Hiddleston, Larson, John Goodman, and John C. Reilly in a boneyard was revealed by Entertainment Weekly. In an interview with EW, Jordan Vogt-Roberts said the film would take place in the '70s, during which Skull Island would be discovered by Landsat satellites, prompting the film's characters to investigate. The film would explore "the mythos of Kong's homeland", and would not retell the "Beauty and the Beast" story as the previous King Kong films had. It was also revealed that the film's iteration of Kong would be the largest to date, and Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson would play a British former SAS tracker and a war photographer respectfully.
On February 20, a large batch of high quality images from the cast on the set of Skull Island were revealed, alongside images of the movie's antagonistic Skullcrawlers, and of Kong himself, showing him in never before seen detail.
Two days later, it was revealed that Expedia had partnered with the film's production company to bring an "immersive experience for the film". A link provided on the corresponding Twitter post takes viewers to a test, where winners of said test would receive two tickets to Skull Island.
Four days later, a teaser for the film's final official trailer was shown, alongside a Twitter post reading:
|“||The story of Kong is too big to ignore. Tomorrow: Don't miss the new trailer for #kongskullisland. #KongIsKing||„|
— Twitter post
The video posted alongside the tweet depicted Kong battling Skullcrawlers in a two on one fight. February 27 opened up with the final official trailer for the film being released. It featured new footage, including that of a Skullcrawler preying on a Sker Buffalo, and an extended peek at the fight involving Kong and multiple Skullcrawlers.
On the same day, a VR Skull Island teaser was released. It offered some character dialogue with Preston Packard, and lead into an action segment where Kong takes down the helicopter the viewer's in, before picking it up, looking at them, and letting out a roar.
As of March 23, 2017, Kong: Skull Island has grossed $119.1 million in the United States and Canada and $189.8 million in other territories for a worldwide gross of $308.9 million. The film was produced on a large budget of $185 million, with $136 million more being spent on the film's marketing expenses. The film will need approximately 450 to 500 million dollars worldwide to break even with its marketing and production budget.
With regards to the United States and Canada, Skull Island was initially projected to gross $40–50 million in its opening weekend. This was coupled with the prediction for a worldwide debut of $110 to 135 million dollars. The film defied it's projection, managing to make $61 million on its opening weekend, going over the initial prediction by 35%. On its opening day, it grossed a solid $20.2 million across 3,846 theaters, with an additional 3.7 million coming from previews on the previous Thursday. While its opening was higher than the 2005 film's 50.1 million opening gross, it was much lower in comparison to the 2014 film Godzilla, which opened with a $93 million debut. An additional $7.6 million was made across 382 IMAX viewings, which in the end accounted for 12.5% of the movie's opening weekend gross. The film grossed $27.8 million for its second weekend, having dropped 54.4%, and fell to second place behind the 2017 remake of Beauty and the Beast.
The film did well internationally, having debuted with another $85.1 million across 20,900 screens which was spread over 65 markets. The film garnered the fourth-biggest March release in IMAX, having gained $4.8 million from 672 theaters.
The film's biggest openings came from the United Kingdom and Ireland, South Korea, and Russia having earned $7.6 million, $7.4 million and $6.2 million, respectively. Mexico also opened up with a generous $5.7 million, with France and Taiwan following with $4.1 and $3.6 million, as well.
Australia followed suit with a solid $3.6 million debut, with Brazil having earned $3.4 million, and Germany coming in with $3.4 million.
Malaysia, India, Spain, and Italy held the weakest openings with regards to outright grosses, having only earned $2.65 million, $2.4 million, respectively, with Spain and Italy both grossing $1.6 million.
Interestingly, in Vietnam (where the film was primarily shot), it scored the biggest opening of all time, with a $2.5 million debut.
Kong: Skull Island received generally positive reviews from critics.
Mike Ryan of Uproxx was one to give a positive review, but was initially apprehensive as well, questioning the need for the 2017 film when the 2005 film, despite gaining good reviews, was considered a disappointment at the box office. He went on to praise John C. Reilly's performance, noting that he "adds a dash of madcap lunacy to the already fairly insane proceedings". Mike's biggest complaint about the film laid with its surprising restraint, adding that he wished it was more ridiculous, while also saying that the statements about the atrocities of war seemed noble, but out of place.
Kyle Anderson of Nerdist News gave the film a 3.5 out of 5, stating that the film's cinematography alongside its action stood out to him, "as it begins to feel like a ’70s comic book, in the best way". He also noted how the film felt like a breath of fresh air in how things occurred "for the sake of badass-ness", unlike most tentpole films that seemed to take themselves more seriously.
He was also one to praise John C Reilly's character of Marlow, noting him as the best and most sympathetic character in the mix, while also stating that there were some terrific performances from the film's military characters, specifically noting Shea Whigham and Jason Mitchell. On a final note, he said that Toby Kebbell's role "seems woefully under-served".
Conversely, he noted how the film had a large cast, which resulted in hindering their individual narrative progress, and resulted in supremely simple characters and a lack of narrative payoff, with the biggest distinction in most being "some of them want to kill Kong, some of them don’t".
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian was one to give a negative review, stating that the film blew its suspense by revealing the main creature as early as it did. He also criticized the film's narrative focus, saying it was "all over the place" while criticizing the performance of the film's star Tom Hiddleston, stating he seemed stiff and unrelaxed, with a "panicked" line delivery, likening him to Michael Caine of The Swam.
Additionally, Wendy Ide of The Guardian was more lenient, granting the film a three out of five stars, while describing it as "enjoyable enough, if a little overblown". She also stated that, despite the quality of the cast, many of the film's characters weren't as nuanced as one would hope.
Critics have spoken about Larson's role within the film additionally, as she won an Oscar for the 2015 film Room, before moving onto this project. Michael Salfino of The Wall Street Journal was one to state that "a starring role in a popcorn movie on the heels of a passion project can open up an actor to ridicule."
Home media releases
On May 25, 2017, home media releases for Skull Island were announced for release on July 18.
|Warner Bros. Home Entertainment||July 18, 2017||Region A||English
|Warner Bros. Home Entertainment||July 18, 2017||Region A||English
Resolution: 4K (2160p)
Dolby Atmos soundtrack
A four-issue graphic novel series titled, Skull Island: The Birth of Kong, acts as the prequel and sequel to the film. Framed by the event of Houston Brooks' oncoming retirement from Monarch in 2012, it depicts a Monarch team led by Aaron, the son of Brooks and San, on a secret mission to Skull Island in the mid-90s during which they uncover the secrets of Kong's past. It was written by Arvid Nelson and illustrated by Mohammad "Zid" Yazid.
- Originally, Kong: Skull Island was over 3 hours long, however, it was cut down to 2 hours in length. Elements of the film's extended plot that didn't make it into the final film can be found within the film's novelization. They include James Conrad's encounter with a giant snake, an extended fight sequence between Marlow and Gunpei Ikari, an expanded role for San Lin, and the backstories of several characters like Conrad and Mason Weaver.
- The Skullcrawlers design was heavily inspired by the Two-Legged Lizard from the original 1933 classic, the Pokemon Cubone, Sachiel from Neon Genesis Evangelion, No face from Spirited Away and the creature from Temple Run, as director Jordan Vogt-Roberts stated in an interview.
- Samuel L. Jackson's character, Preston Packard, utters the line, "Hold on to your butts," a direct line from the character he played in 1993 blockbuster, Jurassic Park.
- Despite being the second movie released in the MonsterVerse, the events take place around the end of the Vietnam War, thus making this chronologically the first entry in the MonsterVerse's timeline (as Godzilla battles the MUTOs in the year 2014).
- Monarch's diminished reputation in the film was inspired by Project Blue Book, the series of systematic UFO studies done by the U.S. Air Force from 1952 to 1970.
- This is the first King Kong film in which Kong is never referred to as "King Kong".
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|Kong: Skull Island|