You’re not supposed to bite the hand that feeds you, but Kong: Skull Island was originally going to chew it up, spit it out, and dance on that poor hand’s grave. Thank Kong it didn’t happen.
Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts recently chatted with the Empire podcast about his new monster movie, which has made over $140M since its release on March 10. It’s a solid film that gives Kong some room to grow... literally and figuratively. The movie shines a new spotlight on the giant ape, making the character more powerful, threatening, and complex than he’s ever been before. But at first, that wasn’t going to be enough for Vogt-Roberts, who revealed his original studio pitch for the first scene in the film. Let’s just say it’s a little brutal.
“So it’s World War II. A full squad comes to this beach. They’re killing each other – and then suddenly, this giant monkey [that looks a lot like the monkey from the last King Kong movie] comes out of the jungle. And they just kill it. It’s dead. And you’re sitting there going, ‘Wait, did they just kill King Kong? Did they kill the hero of this film?’ And then you’d hear a roar and see a much bigger creature – the real King Kong. That was the crazy version of me wanting to send a message that this isn’t like other King Kong movies that you’ve seen. The studio were like: ‘You can’t do that.’”
I’m glad the studio nixed this opening because it seems mean-spirited as hell. The original 1933 King Kong movie is a modern classic, ranked as one of the best films of all time. The 2005 remake from Peter Jackson was a technological marvel, with some incredible motion capture acting by industry icon Andy Serkis, but its legacy is pretty mixed. Some love it, others loathe it, though most simply think it’s okay. And we’re not even going into the 1976 version, trust me I’m doing you a favor.
I’m sure Vogt-Roberts didn’t mean any harm by it, probably just wanted to start the movie off with a bang, but this would have been the wrong way to do that. If your movie is solid enough to stand on its own, which Skull Island is, there’s no reason to piss on the grave of its predecessors by burning an effigy to one of the most iconic characters of all time. Kong: Skull Island is far better off without it.