Kong: Skull Island is the new title for Legendary’s upcoming King Kong origins film, which last week was moved back a few months to the first quarter of 2017, rather than face-off against Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in November 2016. The movie’s human is steadily coming together too as, according to a fresh report, it has now added J.K. Simmons to its ranks.
It’s been a good week for Simmons then, seeing as he also received a (well-deserved) Golden Globe nomination for his work on the indie jazz psycho-thriller, Whiplash, this past Thursday. The respected actor’s versatility is well-established by now – ranging from Oz‘s white supremacist prisoner, Vern Schillinger, to fast-talker J. Jonah Jameson in the Spider-Man movies, to Ellen Page’s kindly dad in Juno – and so, he’s a welcome addition to such upcoming tentpoles as Skull Island and next year’s Terminator: Genisys.
Deadline‘s report doesn’t mention who Simmons is playing in Skull Island, but one presumes he’ll costar alongside the film’s human lead, Tom Hiddleston, as members of a team of explorers that “ventures deep inside the treacherous, primordial island,” as the official synopsis words it. Legendary’s logline also mentions that Skull Island places the King Kong lore “in an entirely new, distinct timeline,” but it’s not clear yet exactly what that means (read: whether the film is a period piece a la Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong remake, or takes place in the present-day).
The first Skull Island script draft was done by Max Borenstein (Godzilla), before John Gatins (Real Steel, Flight) handled revisions. Legendary announced the new date for the Kong movie in conjunction with The Great Wall (as it was formerly known) being set for 2016; and seeing as the latter fantasy/adventure has Zhang Yimou (whose resume of historical martial arts dramas include Hero, House of Flying Daggers, and Curse of the Golden Flower) sitting in the director’s chair, it’s safe to assume that at least that project is (still) a film not set in modern times.
Studios such as 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. will be doubling-down on their superhero film properties over the next few years; that’s not the case with Legendary Pictures, though. The studio is big on genre movies, for sure, but on through to 2018 the studio will skip on the comic book adaptation in favor of tentpoles that encompass sci-fi action/horror (Jurassic World), fantasy video game cinema (Warcraft) and, of course, Kaiju/giant monsters (Pacific Rim 2, Godzilla 2).
That smart strategy will allow Legendary to keep churning out geek-friendly material, but of a variety that will compliment (rather than overlap with) what much of the competition is offering. Helping with that approach will be some promising talent from the indie circuit – such as Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed) on Jurassic World and Jordan Vogt-Roberts (The Kings of Summer) for Skull Island – as well as seasoned filmmakers such as Yimou and Guillermo del Toro (who’s also got his haunted house film, Crimson Peak, being released by Legendary).
Kong: Skull Island opens in U.S. theaters on March 10th, 2017.