New King Kong

This morning we got a new look at King Kong in a new still from Kong: Skull Island. The new film from Kings of Summer director Jordan Vogt-Roberts is set in the 1970s, but has ties to the modern day reboot of Godzilla from 2014. The two monsters are slated to eventually go head-to-head on the big screen in 2020, but before that, we get to see the King of Apes unleashed on a group of explorers. And while this is a Kong bigger than any we’ve seen before, his design takes cues from the monster that audiences saw all the way back in 1933.

After the jump, director Jordan Vogt-Roberts explains how they went back 83 years to find inspiration for this new King Kong design.

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Vogt-Roberts had this to say about their design for Kong:

“With Kong, there’s been obviously so many different versions of him in the past and ours needed to feel unique to our film. I had a mandate that I wanted a kid to be able to doodle him on the back of a piece of homework and for his shapes to be simple and hopefully iconic enough that, like, a third grader could draw that shape and you would know what it is. 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.”

The director also talked about what sets this King Kong apart from Peter Jackson’s take on the monster:

“I don’t think there’s much similarity at all between our version and Peter’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.”

The way Kong was portrayed in Peter Jackson’s version was flawless, but I think there’s something to be said about an approach that makes him less like an animal that we’re used to seeing and can easily feel empathy for and making him look a little more unnatural. If you need anymore evidence of how Kong was created with the original design in mind, Vogt-Roberts posted this on Twitter:

There’s much more that Jordan Vogt-Roberts has to say about how they approached Kong in the extended Entertainment Weekly interview over here.

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