King Kong sequel

After his Oscar-winning success with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, director Peter Jackson rolled right into one of his long-time passion projects: directing a remake of King Kong. That 2005 film made more than $562 million worldwide, which ultimately wasn’t quite enough to justify a sequel. But before the notion of a sequel was scrapped, one was actually in development, and Jackson had his eye on a director for the project: Adam Wingard, who eventually went on to direct the Eighth Wonder of the World in this month’s Godzilla vs. Kong.

/Film spoke with Wingard this week in advance of the release of the new movie, and while our full interview will be published soon, we wanted to highlight a piece of MonsterVerse history we’d never heard before. When we asked Wingard about his pitch to secure the job directing Godzilla vs. Kong, he surprised us by saying he never actually had to do a formal pitch because he had a preexisting relationship with producer Mary Parent, who runs Legendary. And it turns out, that relationship began thanks to Peter Jackson and a project that didn’t quite work out as it was initially intended.

“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 explained, referencing his excellent slasher 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. 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. “

Previously, we knew that the studio wanted Joe Cornish as a potential director for Skull Island, and Jackson was at least open to the idea of Guillermo del Toro tackling it, too. But Wingard’s name never came up back then, and it’s a fascinating what-if scenario to imagine how things might have played out had he been given the keys to Kong at that point. Jordan Vogt-Roberts ended up directing 2017’s Kong: Skull Island, which sounds like it could have evolved from Jackson’s original sequel idea into what it eventually became. and years later, Wingard finally got the chance to tell a story in that arena as well.

Godzilla vs. Kong hits HBO Max and theaters in the United States on March 31, 2021.

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