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Even on beyond featuring the return of one of cinema's greatest monsters, Kong: Skull Island has a lot riding on it from a franchise perspective. As we learned at the start of the project's development the movie can be described as a stepping stone to the massive crossover movie that will be 2020's Godzilla vs. Kong. That being said, the movie features a surprisingly little amount of world building and hints towards a bigger MonsterVerse. The reason for this? According to director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, it's because those elements were removed when the studio understood that their inclusion was a detriment to the finished product.
The filmmaker spoke with me about Kong: Skull Island's place in the larger MonsterVerse when I sat down to talk with him one-on-one at the film's Los Angeles press day. He confirmed that the movie did at one point include sequences that tied it further into the same universe as Godzilla, but that it was decided by everyone involved that they just didn't work for the film they wanted to make. Said Vogt-Roberts,
If they wanted to, they would have jammed a bunch of stuff in there. And believe me, there were drafts where we had those elements, and we shot some of those elements. And to their credit, Warner Bros. and Legendary were smart enough to say this is not the best thing for this.
His response when I asked if he could cite any specific examples? "No."
Jordan Vogt-Roberts also was most definitely not shy in explaining why he felt Kong: Skull Island was better off without kind of huge Godzilla ties. Breaking it all down point by point, and acknowledging universe exhaustion amongst movie-going audiences, the director explained,
So, A) I was really adamant about the fact that King Kong is cinema history, so this film needs to stand on its own. B.) No one's gonna give a shit about Kong and Godzilla fighting unless they love this version of Kong. C.) There are a lot of people that are gonna go and see this movie that have no idea that it connects to Godzilla or have even seen the new Godzilla. And so protecting those things was really important to me to say we need to tell this story. So there's a ton of pipe and a ton of groundwork being laid and a ton of future proofing being made or being done in this movie to set up the future. But I'm very proud of the fact that it generally doesn't derail itself into some ten minutes scene about something that is unrelated to our movie.
This definitely wound up working out in Jordan Vogt-Roberts' favor in the making of Kong: Skull Island, but the big question that hangs in the air is how future installments of this growing franchise will handle the dovetailing of the King Kong and Godzilla stories. Presumably a lot of that responsibility will go to director Michael Dougherty, who has been hired by Legendary to both helm and co-write the script for 2019's Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Considering the film is set to come out just a year before Godzilla vs. Kong, presumably there will be some heavy lifting involved beyond a simple post-credits sequence.
Audiences will be able to get a gander at the new King Kong this Friday when Kong: Skull Island arrives in theaters everywhere. And be sure to stay tuned here on the site for more from my interview with director Jordan Vogt-Roberts!