“Godzilla vs. Kong” marks a massive jump into VFX-driven filmmaking for director Adam Wingard, but it turns out his indie-to-studio-tentpole transition was originally set to take place nearly 10 years ago. And not only that, but it was going to take place as Peter Jackson’s planned sequel to his 2005 “King Kong” remake. Jackson became interested in Wingard as buzz took off for the filmmaker’s breakthrough horror film “You’re Next.”
“I think in a lot of ways, the reason for [me not having to do a pitch for ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’], we have to travel back in time to 2013 or so when ‘You’re Next’ was about to come out in theaters,” Wingard recently told /Film. “Somehow, Peter Jackson had seen an early version of ‘You’re Next,’ and he was interested in me directing a sequel to his ‘King Kong’ film.”
Wingard continued, “It was just going to be called ‘Skull Island.’ Simon Barrett was going to write it. Mary Parent, who runs Legendary now and produced this movie, was on board with that. But this movie was set up at Universal, and the ‘King Kong’ rights somehow ended up at Warner Bros. That movie went to the wayside, and so did I. In a long roundabout way, I think getting that vote of confidence from Peter Jackson stuck in Mary Parent’s mind.”
Warner Bros. eventually moved forward with its own version, the Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ 2017 tentpole “Kong: Skull Island,” and would land Wingard for “Godzilla vs. Kong.” The filmmaker told IndieWire it was always his goal to level up to studio tentpole director, but not for the reasons you might think.
“I don’t think I’m ever not going to be an indie filmmaker,” Wingard told IndieWire’s Kate Erbland. “I’ve been on a trajectory over the years trying to get to this point. The origins of me wanting to be a filmmaker were in trying to make big Hollywood spectacle sci-fi films. That’s the movies that inspired me to make movies, the ‘Star Wars’ films, the ‘Alien’ movies. I can’t wait to use the potential power that this might buy me, so that I can go back and make smaller movies that I have even more control over.”
“Godzilla vs. Kong” is now playing in theaters and streaming on HBO Max.