‘Kong: Skull Island’ Loses Michael Keaton and J.K. Simmons
Universal is on quite a hot streak lately, with four of the top ten movies of 2015 so far including Jurassic World (the biggest movie of the summer), Furious 7, and Pitch Perfect 2. The studio doesn’t have a ton of big-ticket franchises, and they’re really the only major studio that’s not in the superhero game, but the brands they do have, people love. People love Jurassic Park and the Fast & Furious movies, and those adorable little Minions, whose spinoff movie comes out in a couple weeks. People also love King Kong, which is why Universal’s rebooting that franchise as Kong: Skull Island, a new take on the old monster movie about the giant, soulful ape with a thing for blondes.
The film is to be directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, director of the recent indie The Kings of Summer, and was originally supposed to star Tom Hiddleston, Michael Keaton, and J.K. Simmons (and, y’know, a big giant gorilla). But Deadline now reports there’s been a major cast shakeup, with two of the three big-name actors leaving the project for greener, less ape-menaced pastures. As far as Michael Keaton and J.K. Simmons are concerned, Kong ain’t the king anymore.
Here’s the explanation for Keaton and Simmons’ departure, per Deadline:
Scheduling conflicts are believed to be the principal reason behind both actors’ ankling. The project, which has Jordan Vogt-Roberts directing from a script written by John Gatins and Max Borenstein, pushed back its production start by a few weeks from the fall to before the end of the year. That, and the fact that it is likely to be a demanding shoot in terms of time, didn’t match up with their other commitments. Tom Hiddleston remains on-board.
Deadline also claims that Universal and Legendary Pictures are currently filling both roles so that production can still get underway as scheduled, and that they don’t “envisage any delays to getting principal going by the tail end of 2015.” So if all you care about is seeing that big giant ape swat at biplanes, don’t worry; that’s still going to happen, and right on schedule. But if you were interested in seeing what Keaton (fresh off his great work in Birdman) and Simmons (currently appearing in Terminator Genisys, which opens in theaters today) would bring to the material, I’m afraid those hopes died on the long voyage to Skull Island, which is still scheduled to open in theaters on March 10, 2017.