An interesting turn of events took place for Legendary Pictures tonight, the studio that unceremoniously left Warner Bros. for Universal as their backer due to the early unimpressive showing of “Pacific Rim”—a movie that WB only distributed and didn’t fit the bill (though it went on to $400 million worldwide and has already launched a sequel). Though this was probably just the straw that broke the camel’s back as relationships between Legendary’s Thomas Tull and Warner Bros. were described as vacillating between “cool and frosty” in the winter of 2013 as the producer felt under appreciated there (Legendary would officially part ways with WB a few days before the July 2013 release of “Pacific Rim” and signed a five year deal with Universal).
But Tull and Legendary seemed to have had a change of heart, or, the CEO just knows good business opportunities when he sees them. Deadline reports that Tull is taking the upcoming “King Kong: Skull Island” back under the umbrella of Warner Bros. in a move that portends a clash of the titans-like battle between Kong and “Godzilla” which currently resides at WB (though it was developed through Legendary who own got the rights from Japan’s Toho Studios).
Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston and “Straight Out Of Compton” actor Corey Hawkins are set to star. Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Wilkinson and John C. Reilly were also offered big roles, but even Deadline seems to be unclear if they’ve officially joined the cast. The ensemble does include Jason Mitchell (“Straight Out Of Compton”) and Toby Kebbell (“Fantastic Four”). Jordan Vogt-Roberts is directing and IMAX 3D will be a big element of the release.
The movie is being done specifically to align the franchises, though the trade does not mention how it impacts the Universal deal (and or how much of a cut Uni gets for being so magnanimous). While it could be an epic showdown, development on “King Kong: Skull Island” has been a seemingly fluid and ever-changing process since its announcement in the summer of 2014. The film was originally set for November 2016, but the gigantic ape movie, which still hasn’t gone into production is now set for a March 2017 release (and it took so long to get going two actors, Michael Keaton and J.K. Simmons, to drop out and move on).
Perhaps the “Godzilla” endgame was part of the development process—anticipating that the film and series would need to pave the road to somewhere big. Considering the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s not a huge surprise at what Legendary is after, their eventual “Godzilla Vs. King Kong” movie would be akin to the “Avengers” of monsters and it seems all studios are trying to replicate a big showdown/team-up as best they can given the constraints of their properties.
Word on a “Godzilla” sequel has been quiet because director Gareth Edwards is currently busy helming “Star Wars: Rogue One,” but another installment is supposed to hit in 2018 with writer Max Borenstein once again penning the script––and he’s teased at “bigger and better things.”