Legendary Pictures has quickly established that big-budget genre movies are its speciality (see: Pacific Rim, Godzilla, Interstellar, etc.), and the studio will continue to add more promising franchises and titles to its collection over the next few years. One such project is a King Kong origins film that had been previously titled Skull Island – as announced via a conceptual trailer during Legendary’s panel at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con – and scheduled for arrival on November 4th, 2016.
However, that was before Marvel Studios staked out that same date for Doctor Strange; and thus, it comes as little surprise that Legendary has elected to move its Skull Island movie away from the Sorcerer Supreme’s big screen debut. The film has also received a new official title, Kong: Skull Island, and will now open in theaters (including 3D and IMAX 3D) on March 10th, 2017 (one week after The Wolverine 3 arrives).
Thor and The Avengers franchise alum, Tom Hiddleston, is starring as the (human) lead in Skull Island, which is described as follows in the official Legendary/Universal press release.
Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts (The Kings of Summer) and written by John Gatins (Flight) and Max Borenstein (Godzilla), KONG: SKULL ISLAND will fully immerse audiences in the mysterious and dangerous home of the king of the apes as a team of explorers ventures deep inside the treacherous, primordial island. Legendary’s story honors the foundations of existing King Kong lore, but places it in an entirely new, distinct timeline.
Legendary also has Pacific Rim 2 scheduled for 2017, followed by Godzilla 2 in 2018, so between those tentpoles and Skull Island, the studio will have (in essence) cornered the market on giant monster movie brands for at least the next three years. Even better, these projects are being brought to life via filmmakers with very distinct and creative storytelling approaches (that includes Gareth Edwards and Guillermo del Toro), which is all the more encouraging news for us fans of this genre.
The other Legendary project to get a new release date was formerly The Great Wall, but is for now just being referred to as Untitled Great Wall Project. It will also be released in 3D and is gearing up to become the “the largest film ever shot entirely in China” (with the Chinese market opening date set for December 2016).
The (fantasy?) adventure film tells a story about “an elite force making a last stand for humanity on the world’s most iconic structure,” and has gone through some changes over the past few years. It’s now being directed by Zhang Yimou (Hero, The Flowers of War) and will begin production Spring 2015 in order to make a November 23rd, 2016 U.S. release (where it’ll open against Disney Animation’s Moana).
Great Wall was courting Bryan Cranston (who costarred in Godzilla) as a cast member earlier this year, though it’s safe to say Matt Damon dropped out of talks for the lead, as he’s currently preparing to reunite with director Paul Greengrass on Bourne 5 next year. We ought to find out sometime in the next few months who will, in fact, be leading this intriguing, original, Legendary tentpole (which began with an original story by World War Z author Max Brooks).
Legendary’s Untitled Great Wall Project opens in U.S. theaters on November 23rd, 2016, followed by Kong: Skull Island on March 10th, 2017.