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.
With an end to the pandemic (hopefully) in sight, the movie industry is looking toward the future. Movie theaters were hit hard by COVID-19, but they’re hoping to come back strong, and soon. Case in point: Regal Cinemas have unveiled plans to reopen in April, and their parent company Cineworld has just struck a deal with Warner Bros. for 2022 – a sign that Warner Bros.’ 2021 plan to release their films simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max will truly come to an end next year.
Will movie theaters rebound after the pandemic? That’s certainly what everyone is hoping for right now. And while a part of me still thinks it’s too soon to be reopening theaters, the folks in charge of theaters disagree. Which means the Cineworld-owned Regal Cinemas are gearing up to reopen theaters starting in April. Regal Cinemas in the United States will reopen on April 2, while the U.K. opening will happen on May 17. The April reopening in the U.S. will make Godzilla vs. Kong the first big blockbuster to head back to the big screen in Regal theaters.
“We have long-awaited this moment when we can welcome audiences back to our Regal theaters and restore our essential role within the communities we serve,” said Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger. “With the health and safety of our customers, staff, and communities as our top priority, we continue to take all the necessary precautions and abide by our CinemaSafe guidelines to confidently provide a safe and comfortable experience. With capacity restrictions expanding to 50% or more across most U.S. states, we will be able to operate profitably in our biggest markets. We will also be monitoring developments closely in the U.K. and across Europe as we set to gradually reopen across the world in line with local government guidance.”
Meanwhile, Cineworld has also just struck up a multi-year deal with Warner Bros. As Deadline reports, the deal will “see the No. 2 global exhibitor show the studio’s 2021 theatrical and HBO Max day-and-date titles in the U.S. as of their theatrical release. Then, beginning in 2022, Warner Bros theatrical films will have a 45-day window of theatrical exclusivity at Cineworld’s Regal chain.”
In other words, Warner Bros. is sticking with their HBO Max release strategy for 2021, but once 2022 rolls around, that’s done – their titles will be exclusive to theaters, at least for 45 days. I appear to be in the minority among my colleagues, but I’ve been enjoying the HBO Max strategy and wish it would continue. But I also understand that theaters need that exclusivity to thrive and survive, and there are plenty of people who long for that big screen experience.
Christopher Nolan is one of those big screen lovers, and his latest film Tenet has just been given an extended release in Los Angeles and New York IMAX locations until March 30, per Collider. This decision comes after the film has been selling-out its screenings in recent weeks – which is pretty impressive seeing as the film has been on Blu-ray since December 2020. There might be hope for the theatrical experience yet.
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