2015 has certainly been good to Universal. The past few months alone have brought several red-letter projects for the studio, with Jurassic World (and its $1.6 billion worldwide box office haul) the crowning achievement, alongside such commercial smashes varying from Furious 7 to the Despicable Me spinoff/prequel Minions, and the musicians biopic Straight Outta Compton.
Universal and Legendary Pictures already have a Jurassic World sequel in development, in addition to another giant creature/monster-centric tentpole followup that's currently in the pipeline, Godzilla 2. Now it appears the two studios are taking steps to boost the chances that another of their related upcoming projects can reach the blockbusters heights of the King of Monsters and Indominus Rex.
According to THR, Universal and Legendary are bringing Jurassic World co-writer Derek Connolly in to do some script revision work on Kong: Skull Island, the 2017 film that will serve as an origins story for King Kong (and, in essence, reboot that franchise in the process). Connolly's involvement in the project - which is slated to begin filming in late October 2015 - sounds like it will involve mostly polishing the existing screenplay material, as opposed to a more substantial rewriting task.
At this late point in the game, it's unlikely that Connolly will overhaul larger portions of the Kong: Skull Island script. Which is to say: moviegoers who weren't too keen on his and Colin Trevorrow's take on the Jurassic Park mythology (read our Jurassic World review) shouldn't worry too much; Universal and Legendary are likely just hoping that he can bring the same thrill-ride sense of pacing to this new film. All in all, writers such as Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler), Max Borenstein (Godzilla) and John Gatins (Flight) will have made some contribution to the Skull Island script (in addition to Connolly), at the end of the day.
Kong: Skull Island will mark the great ape's return to the big screen after a 12-year absence, with his most recent appearance being that in Peter Jackson's King Kong remake (released in 2005). The new film will center on an expedition to the titular tropical locale, which is traditionally home to a wide variety of creatures. Again, the fact that dinosaurs are included in the eponymous island's population makes it easy to see why Universal and Legendary thought to bring Connolly onboard.
As for the cast of Kong: Skull Island, the roster looks to include Tom Hiddleston (Crimson Peak), Brie Larson (Trainwreck) and Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton), while such noteworthy talent as Russell Crowe and Samuel L. Jackson are among the big name stars in talks to become official cast members in the near future. Look for Universal/Legendary to announce the film's official cast sometime before director Jordan Vogt-Roberts (The Kings of Summer) starts rolling camera on the project.
Kong: Skull Island hits U.S. theaters on March 10, 2017.