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Skull Island was originally a sequel to Peter Jackson's King Kong directed by Adam Wingard

By Josh Weiss

Director Adam Wingard's foray into the realm of cinematic monsters didn't begin with Godzilla vs. Kong. His kaiju journey dates all the way back to the early 2010s when he was hand-picked to direct a sequel to Peter Jackson's King Kong remake from 2005. Can you even imagine how wild that would've been?!

"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," Wingard said during an interview with /FILM. "It was just going to be called Skull Island. [You're Next screenwriter] Simon Barrett was going to write it. Mary Parent, who runs Legendary now and produced [Godzilla vs. Kong], 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."

Unfortunately, Wingard didn't go into detail about what a sequel would have entailed. All that's known is Joe Cornish (Attack the Block) was also offered the directing gig for Skull Island, which, in 2014, was being framed as a prequel (it's unclear whether Wingard simply misspoke). During an SDCC panel that same year, Jackson said he'd be open to Guillermo del Toro tackling the property as well.

"I would look forward to it. If Guillermo did King Kong, that would be great. That would be fantastic," Jackson said. "I’ll be there on the first day, and will help him with anything he needs. I’ve always wondered, if in my lifetime, whether we’re going to see The Lord of the Rings film remade, or The Hobbit remade. How long will it actually last or survive until someone remakes it? It will be interesting to see. But with Kong, we were the ones who remade it for the third time."

As we now know, Skull Island eventually became Kong: Skull Island, a MonsterVerse entry in the hands of Warner Bros. and Legendary. Jordan Vogt-Roberts, who is set to helm an upcoming adaptation of Metal Gear Solid, ended up directing the film, which centered around a scientific expedition to the titular island in the waning days of the Vietnam War (an anime series inspired by the 2017 release is currently in development at Netflix).

Released in mid-December of 2005, Jackson's three-hour take on Universal's giant ape was a long-gestating passion project finally made possible by the director's success with the Lord of the Rings trilogy at New Line Cinema. Using modern CGI and motion capture technology, the 21st century King Kong brought Skull Island and its fauna to life like never before. One of the most expensive projects made up to that time, the $207 million epic brought in half a billion dollars at the worldwide box office. It also went on to win three technical Oscars for sound editing, sound mixing, and visual effects.

Godzilla vs. Kong is now playing in theaters and on HBO Max. SYFY WIRE got to catch up with Wingard, too, and we got the filmmaker to open up about giant monster battles, the movie's skyscraper-sized twist, and the lack of a post-credits scene. Be sure to check back in with us for mroe exclusive tidbits from Wingard!