The King Kong franchise has been rebooted with Kong: Skull Island, which is the film that sets up both the Kong and Godzilla universe. EW just debuted the first look at the giant ape in the Jordan Vogt-Roberts directed feature that stars Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John Goodman, John C. Reilly, Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Wilkinson, Jason Mitchell, Corey Hawkins, Thomas Mann and John Ortiz.
The shot “comes from a point in the movie where you’re not quite sure who Kong is,” explains Vogt-Roberts, “what his purpose is, how people should be perceiving him. Through the folly of man, where our initial instinct is to attack anything that is not a known quantity, both sides jump the gun, Kong and the humans, and it kicks off a relatively messy engagement. At first, of course you’re going to perceive something like that as a terrible threat and monster — the physicality of him alone.”
Full plot details are being kept secret but the film is based on the premise of a team of explorers venturing on an island inhabited by giant monsters. The trailer, below, shows an all-out war that ensures.
More from Vogt-Roberts’ interview with EW:
…A big part of our Kong was I wanted to make something that gave the impression that he was a lonely God, he was a morose figure, lumbering around this island.
We sort of went back to the 1933 version in the sense that he’s a bipedal creature that walks in an upright position, as opposed to the anthropomorphic, anatomically correct silverback gorilla that walks on all fours. Our Kong was intended to say, like, this isn’t just a big gorilla or a big monkey. This is something that is its own species. It has its own set of rules, so we can do what we want and we really wanted to pay homage to what came before…and yet do something completely different.
There’s subtle nods. [The ’33 film] was black and white, so it’s really easy to assume that the fur on the monkey is black, but there’s actually a lot of forums and things that you read and there’s some real poster artwork where Kong’s fur skews more brownish, so we actually pushed his fur in more of a brown as opposed to the traditional black. It really was trying to create this feeling so that when these humans look up at him, they hopefully have a visceral response, saying to themselves, ‘That’s a God, I’m looking at a God.’
If anything, our Kong is meant to be a throwback to the ’33 version. I don’t think there’s much similarity at all between our version and Peter [Jackson]’s Kong. That version is very much a scaled-up silverback gorilla, and ours is something that is slightly more exaggerated. A big mandate for us was, How do we make this feel like a classic movie monster?
[Kong] was a movie monster, so we worked really hard to take some of the elements of the ’33 version, some of those exaggerated features, some of those cartoonish and iconic qualities, and then make them their own…We created something that to some degree served as a throwback to the inspiration for what started all of this, but then also [had] it be a fully unique and different creature that — I would like to think — is fully contained and identifiable as the 2017 version of King Kong. I think there are very modern elements to him, yet hopefully he feels very timeless at the same time.
Kong: Skull Island opens in theaters on March 10, 2017, followed by Godzilla 2 on March 22, 2019, and Godzilla vs. Kong on May 29, 2020.