When Legendary Pictures announced Kong: Skull Island at San Diego Comic-Con 2014, fans were generally excited about the upcoming blockbuster. Since then, however, the King Kong origin film has struggled a bit to get the pieces in place to begin production. The script was rewritten by John Gatins (Flight) and the film's release date had to be pushed back to 2017, likely due to heavy competition (Marvel's Doctor Strange shared its original release date).
The film started to make some headway when it cast Tom Hiddleston (Thor), J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) and Michael Keaton (Birdman) in lead roles for the film. Unfortunately, due to the release delay and the film's lengthy production schedule, both Simmons and Keaton were forced to drop out. The search for their replacements is ongoing, but Legendary may now be close to recasting those roles.
Deadline is reporting that Nick Fury himself, Samuel L. Jackson is in talks to join the film in the role that Simmons recently vacated. Additionally, Legendary is said to have a short list of actors in mind to replace Keaton; rumors indicate that John C. Reilly (Guardians of the Galaxy) is at the top of that list, but at this time no offers have been made. Tom Wilkinson (Batman Begins) is said to have been offered an unspecified leading role in the film, too.
Skull Island will follow a group of explorers as the venture deep into the jungles of (where else?) Skull Island, the home of the mighty King Kong. The explorers will have to contend with the natural dangers of the island, including dinosaurs and giant-sized insects. Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts (The Kings of Summer), the King Kong origins film is expected enter production before 2015 draws to a close.
The prospective Skull Island actors would join Tom Hiddleston, as well as the recently cast Brie Larson (Trainwreck) and Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton). Russell Crowe is reportedly in talks to join the film too, though he's apparently waiting on the most recent draft of the script before making a decision. Assuming both Jackson and Crowe join the cast, the ensemble is set to have plenty of star power on the screen.
That star power alone might be enough to warrant a viewing of Skull Island, but it's likely the monsters that are going to steal the show. Legendary Pictures has proven in recent years that tentpoles featuring larger-than-life special effects can rule the box office (see Pacific Rim and Jurassic World), even in a landscape dominated by superhero films. King Kong is one of the most iconic cinematic monsters of all time, so it's not hard to imagine that when Kong, the eighth wonder of the world, returns to the big screen in 2017, filmgoers will stand up and take notice.
Kong: Skull Island opens in U.S. theaters on March 10th, 2017.