Jordan Vogt-Roberts Talks About Rejecting the First Pitch for 'Kong: Skull Island"

Friday, 10 March 2017 - 2:14PM
Kong: Skull Island
Friday, 10 March 2017 - 2:14PM
Jordan Vogt-Roberts Talks About Rejecting the First Pitch for 'Kong: Skull Island"
Kinocheck International, Warner Bros.
When Kong: Skull Island was announced, the general reaction seemed to be "Why?" Why did we need another remake or reboot? What sort of ground could be covered that hadn't already been covered by the 1933, 1976, or 2005 versions? As it turns out, Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts thought the exact same thing—the script he was initially pitched would have most likely been a typical King Kong retelling. As he describes it in an interview with Slashfilm.com:

Opening quote
"I got a call on a Sunday to say we want you to come and meet on this project tomorrow. I was like okay. It was Skull Island. We're making a new King Kong movie. My first response was "Awesome." I love King Kong. My secondary response was "Why?" Why does this movie need to exist? It hasn't been that long since Peter [Jackson's] film. Peter's movie was great. What's fresh about this for audiences?  So I read the script. It took place in 1917. It was an entirely different movie than this. And it was a good script. It just wasn't for me. So I said, thanks but no thanks."
Closing quote


Still, Vogt-Roberts kept thinking about it. He began searching for a different entry point to the series and thinking of ways to link Kong up with what was happening in the world today. So Vogt-Roberts called another meeting and began to pitch what he thought was a wilder, completely unsellable idea: what if Kong was more like a Vietnam war movie? As he tells it:

Opening quote
"And then suddenly, I was like, wait a second, I've seen plenty of monster movies. I haven't seen a Vietnam War movie with monsters. And I haven't seen something that is riffing off of Apocalypse Now with monsters. And that had a bunch of thematic reasons, beyond it being like an incredible genre mash-up of me thinking like I would wanna see this movie. I feel like people would, like you, would wanna see the film... So I love the idea of taking these like disillusioned, confused people and thrusting them into like the unknown and confronting them with gods and myths."
Closing quote


To his surprise, the studio was extremely interested in the idea. Even more amazing, they wanted him to jump right into it.



The film, which was shot on location in Vietnam, clearly makes good use of the imagery that inspired Vogt-Roberts (the helicopters, neon-orange sun, and dense tropical setting shown in posters and trailers are all throwbacks to Apocalypse), and between the choice of music and the seemingly Dennis Hopper-inspired performance from John C Reilly, it's clear that the Coppola film played a major part in the production of Kong. Critics have been quick to note how Vogt-Roberts was able to find an alchemy of what sounds like very disparate styles, from the New York Times, which found it visually majestic if hollow, to the A.V. Club, which did enjoy it, though still felt it comes up just short of being truly great. 

If the film ends up being a big box office success, it will be a major step forward in Warner Bros.' long-term plans to reboot the Kong franchise. For Vogt-Roberts, though, it's the end of a long journey that took him from rejecting a script to turning it into something totally new. They don't call it movie magic for nothing.
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Kong: Skull Island