Legendary Pictures surprised everyone at the San Diego Comic-Con last Saturday, when the studio revealed the true identity of its "Untitled 2016 Event Project" - an origins movie for King Kong, titled Skull Island. The premise organically lends itself to an effects-heavy tentpole, so as to bring the eponymous world populated by enormous apes, prehistoric reptiles, and other giant-sized creatures to life.
As such, Legendary is actively on the lookout for a director to oversee Skull Island, so as to ensure they can get started soon enough to complete the project's demanding pre-viz and production requirements - in time to make the Fall 2016 release date target, that is.
Deadline is reporting that Skull Island already has a writer in place, in the form of Max Borenstein. The scribe has become a trusted ally for Legendary Pictures, after having scripted the studio's Godzilla reboot (a sequel to that film was formally confirmed at Comic-Con), in addition to the upcoming Legendary-backed fantasy/adventure novel adaptation, Seventh Son.
Of course, now we have to ask: is Legendary's decision to recruit Borenstein to reboot the King Kong property a sign that studio heads intend to crossover the property with the Godzilla franchise, somewhere down the line? Maybe not (if only because of ownership rights issues), but if Legendary does wind up going in this direction, then it will have a head-start on Universal - which is in the process of attempting to resurrect its own classic monster franchises.
Much as Legendary entrusted Godzilla to indie filmmaker Gareth Edwards and hired promising newcomer Gary Shore for Dracula Untold (the Dracula origins film starring Luke Evans that arrives this fall), the studio is reported to currently have its eye on England-born filmmaker Joe Cornish to call the shots on Skull Island.
Cornish co-wrote The Adventures of Tintin and Marvel Studios' upcoming Ant-Man, in addition to having written/directed the acclaimed low-budget sci-fi/action flick Attack the Block (a film that many would describe as a creative throwback to such John Carpenter fare as They Live). However, he has yet to prove his mettle in the arena of directing blockbuster features.
Then again, back in the 1990s, who would've thought that Peter Jackson - director of niche demented horror/comedies like Dead Alive - would one day go on to make a genuinely "epic" King Kong movie of his own? Multiple studios have found success of late by bringing aboard creative upstarts to handle their major tentpoles (see this Friday's James Gunn-directed Guardians of the Galaxy, for the latest example), so it would make sense for Legendary to want a Cornish-type to handle Skull Island.
That said, Legendary's King Kong origins film isn't the first tentpole that Cornish has been offered since he broke-out with Attack the Block. He was once said to be the front-runner to direct the next Star Trek film before he dropped out of the running, and he is attached to the MI6 drama/thriller Section 6. Plus, it may be that Cornish is more interested in pursuing original endeavors that are of personal interest to him (a la his Ant-Man script collaborator, Edgar Wright), than franchise pics.
Still, even if Cornish doesn't sign up to guide the upcoming expedition to Skull Island, don't be surprised if Legendary decides to take a chance on another "outsider" for the King Kong flick and lets them cut their teeth on the blockbuster, instead.
Skull Island opens in U.S. theaters on November 4th, 2016.