|“||All hail the King||„|
— Film's tagline
Kong: Skull Island is a 2017 film co-produced by Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. that serves as an origin story for King Kong. It is the second entry in the MonsterVerse, following 2014's Godzilla, and will be followed by 2019's Godzilla: King of the Monsters, before culminating with 2020's Godzilla vs. Kong.
The film opens with a prologue during World War II, showing an American bailing out of his damaged P-51 Mustang. He encounters a Japanese pilot on the beach and briefly fights him, but as they struggle with a sword, Kong suddenly appears, looming over the two as the title credits roll.
In 1973, former British Special Air Service Captain James Conrad is hired by government agent William Randa to guide an expedition to map out a mysterious uncharted region in the Pacific dubbed "Skull Island", which has never been mapped due to perpetual storms surrounding it. Randa also recruits the Sky Devils, a helicopter squadron led by Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard and prominently made up of his right-hand, Major Jack Chapman and Captain Earl Cole to escort them to the island. The group is soon joined by pacifist photojournalist Mason Weaver, who plans to expose it believing it's a corrupt military op.
Arriving on Skull Island, Packard's men begin dropping explosives developed by seismologist Houston Brooks to determine if the ground is hollow, despite Conrad's objections. The helicopters are suddenly attacked by a 100 foot-tall ape known as Kong. All of the helicopters are destroyed as Kong swats them out of the air, and throws a palm tree into one, and the survivors end up being split into small groups. In the midst of Kong's rampage, Packard stares up at Kong, interlocking eyes with him, filled with rage. The survivors' only hope for rescue is a resupply team that will meet them at the island's northern end in three days time. Randa reveals his affiliation to the secret government organization Monarch to Packard and the expedition's true purpose to acquire proof of the existence of forgotten monsters.
Packard and his remaining men bury their dead comrades and begin searching for the missing members of the expedition, including Chapman. Along the way, they overcome an attacking Mother Longlegs, slicing off its bamboo-like legs which topples it over (allowing Packard to finish it off with gunfire). In a river nearby, Chapman is washing and filling his water canteen, until Kong appears. Chapman flees, leaving Kong tending his wounds and drinking after his battle with the Sky Devils. He is then suddenly attacked by a Mire Squid, which he manages to kill (and proceeds to eat as well) before leaving the river. Meanwhile, Conrad, Weaver, Brooks, biologist San Lin, soldier Reg Slivko and Landsat employee Victor Nieves, among others, run into the local Iwi natives and meet Hank Marlow, revealed to be the missing pilot who crash-landed on the island in 1944 with a Japanese pilot. Marlow explains that Kong is the island's guardian and worshiped as a god by the natives for protecting them from the Skullcrawlers, reptilian underground monsters who have slaughtered Kong's ancestors, leaving him as the last of his kind. Marlow reveals Kong only attacked the helicopters to prevent the bombs from awakening the largest and deadliest of the Giant Skullcrawlers, dubbed as "The Big One". He also reveals that "The Big One" will doom everyone and everything on the island should anything happen to Kong.
Weaver encounters a Sker Buffalo, trapped under a fallen helicopter. She struggles vainly to free the large beast but Kong comes and saves the buffalo, exchanging glances with Weaver before departing. Conrad's group sets off down the river in a boat recovered by Marlow, where they are beset by Psychovultures, which carry off and devour Nieves. The survivors manage to connect with Packard, who insists on searching for Chapman, who - unbeknownst to them - has already been killed by a Skullcrawler after encountering a Spore Mantis. Marlow reluctantly leads both Conrad and Packard's team to the Forbidden Zone, a forgotten battleground between Kong's ancestors and Skullcrawlers. The same Skullcrawler that ate Chapman (after vomiting up his half-digested skull and dog tag) attacks the group, devouring Randa and killing many soldiers before Weaver kills it by triggering an explosion using Conrad's lighter, incinerating the creature. A vengeful Packard blames Kong for the deaths of his men and retrieves seismic explosives to lure Kong into a trap and kill him, while Conrad resolves to lead the non-military personnel back to the boat so they can rendezvous with the resupply team.
While scouting the path ahead, Conrad and Weaver encounter Kong up close and personal, seeing that he is in fact a gentle and intelligent creature to those that do him no harm, and resolve to save him (a sentiment that Marlow shares). Packard's trap incapacitates Kong, and he orders his men to set explosives around the fallen creature, but before he can finish the ape off, Conrad's group arrives and a standoff ensues. Conrad and Weaver convince the other soldiers to spare Kong, but Packard furiously refuses, now seeking vengeance for his fallen men. The group is suddenly attacked by a giant Skullcrawler, which emerges from beneath the swamp near a fallen Kong. Everyone flees except Packard, who tries to detonate the explosives in a last act of revenge, but Kong recovers and kills him, crushing him with his fist.
Injured, Kong is overpowered by the massive opponent, which then chases the survivors as they race towards the shore. Cole sacrifices himself to ensure the survival of his young comrades, arming grenades to supposedly kill the Skullcrawler after it eats him. However, the creature is not fooled, and it swats him away with its tail, killing him as the grenades explode on the side of a mountain but Cole's sacrifice buys enough time for Kong to show up, bashing the Skullcrawler's head with a boulder. Kong battles the Skullcrawler, at one point wielding a massive tree as a bat. However the Skullcrawler uses its tail to throw Kong into a sunken boat and he gets entangled in its chains. As the Skullcrawler closes in for the kill, Brooks and Lin arrive on the boat and open fire on the beast. Enraged, he turns his attention to the humans, buying Kong enough time to break free. Weaver fires a flare gun at the Skullcrawler, destroying its right eye, and Conrad lures it away from the survivors on the boat. Using a boat propeller attached to a chain, Kong impales the massive Skullcrawler with it, uses the chain to reel him in, and then uses the propeller to rip open his adversary's throat seemingly killing him.
However, Weaver is violently thrown into a river during the fight and almost drowns, but is rescued by Kong. Unfortunately the giant Skullcrawler is still alive, and attacks Kong with Weaver in his hand. As he wraps his tongue around Kong's hand in an attempt to devour Weaver, Kong uses this to his advantage, and with a violent yank of the Skullcrawler's tongue, rips his tongue right out, along with his stomach (as it stubbornly refused to let go of Kong's wrist), eviscerating him from the inside out, finally killing him for good and avenging the deaths his parents and the extinction of the rest of his kind. With the creature finally dead, Kong peacefully allows the surviving humans to leave. As helicopters arrive to take the survivors home, he beats his chest and roars fiercely, asserting his reign as the king of Skull Island.
Sometime afterward, Marlow returns home and is reunited with his wife and meets his now-adult son for the first time. He is later shown enjoying a beer and a hot dog as he watches his long-missed favorite sports on TV.
In a post-credits scene, Conrad and Weaver are held in a room by Monarch, where Brooks and Lin reveal they have been recruited by the organization. Brooks and Lin debriefs them that Kong is not the only monster to roam the world, and not the only king. They are then shown archive footage showing cave paintings, depicting silhouetted images recognizable as a bipedal spiked dinosaur, a winged pterosaur-like creature, a gigantic moth, and a three-headed dragon, before showing one final painting of the dinosaur and the three-headed dragon engaged in combat. As the screen fades to black, a loud familiar-sounding roar is heard: none other than that of Godzilla.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts
- Written by Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, Derek Connolly, John Gatins
- Produced by Jon Jashni, Alex Garcia, Thomas Tull, Mary Parent
- Music by Henry Jackman
- Cinematography by Larry Fong
- Edited by Richard Pearson
- Screenplay by
- Director of Photography
- Special Effects Supervisor
- Costume Designer
- Sound Designer
- Motion Capture Consultants
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Sker Buffaloes
- Mother Longlegs
- Spore Mantises
- Mire Squids
- Godzilla (cameo, as painting)
- Mothra (cameo, as painting)
- Rodan (cameo, as painting)
- King Ghidorah (cameo, as painting)
- M.U.T.O. (mentioned only, term used generically)
- Triceratops (Skull only)
The film's release date was originally set for November 4, 2016 at Comic-Con 2014, with Joe Cornish being offered to direct it. Pitched as a King Kong origin story, the original film's title was simply "Skull Island". The film's release date was later pushed back to March 6, 2017, while the movie was re titled to Kong: Skull Island. It was announced that Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson will star as the male and female lead. J. K. Simmons and Michael Keaton were originally going to star as well, but the two later left the film due to scheduling conflicts. 
In July, Brie Larson had been cast in the film to play the female lead, and later in August 2015, Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell joined the cast, with several other actors being reportedly considered, including Samuel L. Jackson, John C. Reilly, and Toby Kebbell. The film will be directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts with the screenplay to be written by Max Borenstein, John Gatins and Derek Connolly. Simmons told MTV that the film will take place in Detroit in 1971.
On September 10, 2015, it was reported that Legendary Pictures had moved production of the film from Universal Pictures, with whom it currently held a distribution deal, to its former partner Warner Bros., with whom it had an agreement to distribute the sequels to 2014's Godzilla in the future, supposedly in order to keep both properties under the same distributor. This immediately spawned rumors that Legendary planned to eventually produce a remake of King Kong vs. Godzilla with Warner Bros., although neither studio provided a statement. On September 16, multiple sources reported that Thomas Tull had wanted to set up a film featuring both Kong and Godzilla for years and planned to include references to Monarch, the monster-studying organization from Godzilla, in the script for Kong: Skull Island. However, Warner Bros. was reportedly uncomfortable with including references to one of their films in a Universal project, so Legendary moved the entire project to Warner Bros. None of these reports were confirmed by any of the studios, and no official statement was made about the possibility of a King Kong and Godzilla crossover film for nearly a month. Guillermo Del Toro made a statement the next day confirming that Pacific Rim 2, the sequel to Legendary and WB's 2013 kaiju film Pacific Rim, had been indefinitely delayed due to the shuffling of the King Kong and Godzilla properties, but was not at all cancelled and was still being actively worked on.
In an interview conducted with Entertainment Weekly, actor Toby Kebbell clarified his role in the film. Kebbell plays an Air Force major named Chapman, who spends most of his time in the film with Samuel L. Jackson's character. It had been widely speculated that Kebbell would have been portraying Kong through motion capture, due to his portrayal of the ape character Koba in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes through motion capture alongside Andy Serkis, who had portrayed Kong in the 2005 film. Kebbell revealed that in Kong: Skull Island, Kong will be primarily portrayed by motion capture actor Terry Notary, although Kebbell did assist Notary in the motion capture process and provided reference for some of the character's facial animations.
In April of 2016, it was reported that artist Joe DeVito had sued Legendary for a breach of contract. He claimed both companies allegedly "stole" his pitch ideas and developed them into a feature film without his permission or any due credit. He was seeking $3.5 million general and punitive damages.
On February 20, a large batch of high quality images from the cast on the set of Skull Island were revealed, alongside images of the movie's antagonistic Skullcrawlers, and of Kong himself, showing him in never before seen detail.
In the two days following, it was revealed that Expedia had partnered with the film's production company to bring an "immersive experience for the film". A link provided on the corresponding Twitter post takes viewers to a test, where winners of said test would receive two tickets to Skull Island.
Four days later, a teaser for the film's presumably final trailer was shown, alongside a Twitter post reading:
|“||The story of Kong is too big to ignore. Tomorrow: Don't miss the new trailer for #kongskullisland. #KongIsKing||„|
— Twitter post
The video posted alongside the tweet depicted Kong battling Skullcrawlers in a two on one fight.
February 27 opened up with the final official trailer for the film being released. It featured new footage, including that of a Skullcrawler preying on a Sker Buffalo, and an extended peek at the fight involving Kong and multiple Skullcrawlers.
On the same day, a VR Skull Island teaser was released. It offered some character dialogue with Preston Packard, and lead into an action segment where Kong takes down the helicopter the viewer's in, before picking it up, and looking at them to let out a loud roar.
As of March 23, 2017, Kong: Skull Island has grossed $119.1 million in the United States and Canada and $189.8 million in other territories for a worldwide gross of $308.9 million. The film was produced on a large budget of $185 million dollars, with $136 million more being spent on the film's marketing expenses. The film will need approximately 450 to 500 million dollars worldwide to break even with its marketing and production budget.
With regards to the United States and Canada, Skull Island was initially projected to gross $40–50 million in its opening weekend. This was coupled with the prediction for a worldwide debut of $110 to 135 million dollars. The film defied it's projection, managing to make $61 million dollars on its opening weekend, going over the initial prediction by 35%. On its opening day, it grossed a solid $20.2 million dollars across 3,846 theaters, with an additional 3.7 million coming from previews on the previous Thursday. While its opening was higher than the 2005 film's 50.1 million opening gross, it was much lower in comparison to the 2014 film Godzilla, which opened with a $93 million dollar debut. An additional $7.6 million was made across 382 IMAX viewings, which in the end accounted for 12.5% of the movie's opening weekend gross. The film grossed $27.8 million for its second weekend, having dropped 54.4%, and fell to second place behind the 2017 remake of Beauty and the Beast.
The film did well internationally, having debuted with another $85.1 million dollars across 20,900 screens which was spread over 65 markets. The film garnered the fourth-biggest March release in IMAX, having gained $4.8 million dollars from 672 theaters.
The film's biggest openings came from the United Kingdom and Ireland, South Korea and Russia having earned $7.6 million, $7.4 million and $6.2 million dollars, respectively. Mexico also opened up with a generous $5.7 million dollars, with France and Taiwan following with $4.1 and $3.6 million, as well.
Australia followed suit with a solid $3.6 million debut, with Brazil having earned $3.4 million, and Germany coming in with $3.4 million.
Malaysia, India, Spain and Italy held the weakest openings with regards to outright grosses, having only earned $2.65 million, $2.4 million, respectively, with Spain and Italy both grossing $1.6 million.
Interestingly, in Vietnam (where the film was primarily shot), it scored the biggest opening of all time, with a $2.5 million debut.
Kong: Skull Island received generally positive reviews from critics.
Mike Ryan of Uproxx was one to give a positive review, but was initially apprehensive as well, questioning the need for the 2017 film when the 2005 film, despite gaining good reviews, was considered a disappointment at the box office. He went on to praise John C. Reilly's performance, noting that he "adds a dash of madcap lunacy to the already fairly insane proceedings". Mike's biggest complaint about the film laid with its surprising restraint, adding that he wished it was more ridiculous, while also saying that the statements about the atrocities of war seemed noble, but out of place.
Kyle Anderson of Nerdist News gave the film a 3.5 out of 5, stating that the film's cinematography alongside its action stood out to him, "as it begins to feel like a ’70s comic book, in the best way". He also noted how the film felt like a breath of fresh air in how things occurred "for the sake of badass-ness", unlike most tentpole films which seemed to take themselves more seriously.
He was also one to praise John C Reilly's character of Marlow, noting him as the best and most sympathetic character in the mix, while also stating that there were some terrific performances from the film's military characters, specifically noting Shea Whigham and Jason Mitchell. On a final note, he said that Toby Kebbell's role "seems woefully under-served".
Conversely, he noted how the film had a large cast, which resulted in hindering their individual narrative progress, and resulted in supremely simple characters and a lack of narrative payoff, with the biggest distinction in most being "some of them want to kill Kong, some of them don’t".
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian was one to give a negative review, stating that the film blew its suspense by revealing the main creature as early as it did. He also criticized the film's narrative focus, saying it was "all over the place", while criticizing the performance of the film's star Tom Hiddleston, stating he seemed stiff and unrelaxed, with a "panicked" line delivery, likening him to Michael Caine of The Swam.
In addition, Wendy Ide of The Guardian was more lenient, granting the film a three out of five stars, while describing it as "enjoyable enough, if a little overblown". She also stated that, despite the quality of the cast, many of the film's characters weren't as nuanced as one would hope.
Critics have spoken about Larson's role within the film additionally, as she won an Oscar for the 2015 film Room, before moving onto this project. Michael Salfino of The Wall Street Journal was one to state that "a starring role in a popcorn movie on the heels of a passion project can open up an actor to ridicule."
- Originally, Kong: Skull Island was over 3 hours long, however, it was cut down to 2 hours in length. Elements of the film's extended plot that didn't make it into the final film can be found within the film's novelization. They include James Conrad's encounter with a giant snake, and an extended fight sequence between Marlow and Gunpei Ikari.
- The Skullcrawlers' design was heavily inspired by a monster from the original 1933 classic, the Pokemon Cubone, and the creature from Temple Run, as director Jordan Vogt-Roberts stated in an interview.
- Samuel L. Jackson's character, Preston Packard, utters the line, "Hold on to your butts," a direct line from the character he played in 1993 blockbuster Jurassic Park.
- ↑ Scified.com - Kong: Skull Island budget
- ↑ Slashfilm.com - Legendary announces King Kong prequel Skull Island movie for 2016 at [Comic Con 2014]
- ↑ Deadline.com - Legendary wants Joe Cornish for Skull Island
- ↑ TheWrap.com - Universal moves Kong: Skull Island to 2017; cements 'Great Wall' release date
- ↑ Deadline.com - Whiplash’s J.K. Simmons to star in Kong: Skull Island
- ↑ Deadline.com - Michael Keaton in talks to join Kong: Skull Island for Legendary
- ↑ Michael Keaton And JK Simmons Exit Legendary’s ‘Kong: Skull Island’
- ↑ Deadline.com - Brie Larson casting confirmation
- ↑ Variety.com - Straight Outta Compton’s Corey Hawkins joins Skull Island
- ↑ Deadline.com - Is there room on ‘Kong: Skull Island’ for Samuel L. Jackson and Tom Wilkinson?
- ↑ Hollywood Reporter.com - Fantastic Four Actor Toby Kebbell joins Tom Hiddleston in Kong: Skull Island
- ↑ Deadline.com - Legendary’s Skull Island; Tom Hiddleston stars, Jordan Vogt-Roberts helms King Kong origin tale
- ↑ Deadline.com - Brie Larson lands female lead in Kong: Skull Island
- ↑ Deadline.com - King Kong tale Skull Island gets rewrite from ‘Flight’ scribe John Gatins
- ↑ MTV.com - Michael Keaton and J.K. Simmons preview their trip to Kong: Skull Island
- ↑ Hollywood Reporter.com - Jurassic World writer heads to Kong: Skull Island
- ↑ Hollywood Reporter.com - Straight Outta Compton star Jason Mitchell lands Kong: Skull Island role
- ↑ Variety.com - Kong: Skull Island moving from Universal to Warner Bros.
- ↑ Deadline.com - King Kong on move to Warner Bros, presaging Godzilla monster matchup
- ↑ Coming Soon.net - King Kong vs. Godzilla planned as Skull Island heads to WB!
- ↑ Hollywood Reporter.com - Hollywood Gorilla Warfare: It's Universal vs. Legendary over Kong: Skull Island (and who says "Thank You")
- ↑ Coming Soon.net - Kong: Skull Island script contains references to 2014's Godzilla, Pacific Rim 2 indefinitely delayed
- ↑ EW.com - Guillermo Del Toro is still working on Pacific Rim 2
- ↑ Legendary.com - Legendary and Warner Bros. Pictures announce cinematic franchise uniting Godzilla, King Kong and other iconic giant monsters
- ↑ Entertainment Weekly - Toby Kebbell clears up Kong: Skull Island rumors
- ↑ Hollywood Reporter.com - Skull Island Joe DeVito case
- ↑ Scified.com - 4 new Kong: Skull Island trailers hit web
- ↑ Collider.com - Skull Island pre-release images
- ↑ Twitter.com - Expedia announcement
- ↑ Expedia.com - Skull Island sweepstakes
- ↑ Movieweb.com - Kong: Skull Island - Final trailer teaser
- ↑ Twitter.com - Skull Island Twitter post
- ↑ Uproxx.com - Kong: Skull Island review
- ↑ Nerdist.com - Kong: Skull Island review
- ↑ The Guardian.com - Kong: Skull Island - Peter Bradshaw review
- ↑ The Guardian.com - Kong: Skull Island - Wendy Ide review