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Kualoa Ranch on the Hawaiian island of Oahu is littered with the bones of movie monsters. Hidden by brush in a grove of tall grass is the lair of the Indominus Rex from Jurassic World. Beyond that, as you drive up a muddy road past the entrance gate, lies the hilltop where a herd of Gallimimus flocked toward Sam Neill in Jurassic Park. And just over a hill, the ground droops down to reveal an actual graveyard, filled with the skulls of triceratops and giant gorillas.
Clearly, there's a rich history here and Kong: Skull Island, the new movie from Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros., wants a part of it. It also means that there's a lot to live up to --- not only from the classic Hollywood films that set up shop on the island set, but past Kong movies and, of course, the impetus for this new monster movie universe, Gareth Edwards' Godzilla.
According to producer Alex Garcia, who we interviewed while attending a Kong: Skull Island set visit, the goal was to honor what came before while nuancing the story.
[The Kong story has] been told so well before, to tell the same story didn't feel right. We'd rather take the character and tell a story that seems as if it could have happened in a distant cousin of those other timelines, but that is very much within the universe, tonally, that we set up for Godzilla.
By now, everyone should know the traditional tale of Kong: a group of filmmakers voyage to the mysterious Skull Island to film a movie, when they are horrified by the gargantuan gorilla that calls the land home. While the 1933 original and Peter Jackson's interpretation saw Kong terrorizing New York City, director Jordan Vogt-Roberts keeps the King on the island.
One of the things that got us really excited about Jordan's take was as we were working toward grounding Kong, in a similar way as we aspired to with Godzilla, Jordan came in with this idea of setting this at the dawn of the Landsat program. The Landsat program is a real program that was formed to start utilizing satellites to map the surface of the earth. It's the first time we ever did that, and in that mapping, they discover this previously uncharted island, that is surrounded by weather patterns, storm systems. It's incredibly difficult to reach and incredibly difficult to even ascertain its existence, because of these storm systems and weather abnormalities and all of that. So, it's an entirely unique ecosystem.
This Kong has much more in common with Edwards' Godzilla, in the sense that both are elemental forces. Godzilla arose in the 2014 film as nature's answer to the emergence of the MUTO beasts. In Skull Island, Kong isn't necessarily the bad guy, but a defender of this contained ecosystem, as Garcia describes: "There are other things on the island that Kong patrols and sort of protects from overtaking it."
Kong: Skull Island will open in theaters on March 10. See the full trailer on the next page!