Legendary Pictures unleashed a mighty roar at Comic-Con last year when it announced big-budget King Kong prequel Kong: Skull Island, a period piece that will reintroduce moviegoers to the heralded Eighth Wonder of the World. Soon after, though, the pic fell somewhat under the radar. And now, as crowds prepare to again flood San Diego, it’s been revealed that Skull Island has suffered a serious blow, with both Michael Keaton and JK Simmons vacating their roles.
The simultaneous exits are believed to relate to scheduling conflicts. Skull Island recently pushed back production from this fall to the end of the year, and the sure-to-be demanding shoot just couldn’t work out with both actors’ busier-than-ever slates. As for Tom Hiddleston, as far as we know, he still remains attached in the lead role.
Keaton, who was Oscar-nominated last year for a career-revitalizing lead turn in Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), is currently filming The Founder for John Lee Hancock. He’s also expected to be back on the awards circuit later this year for Catholic Church child-abuse drama Spotlight, in which he plays the head of the Boston Globe‘s ace investigative journalism division.
MORE NEWS FROM THE WEB
And Simmons, who won an Oscar last year for playing a ruthless music teacher in Whiplash, is currently shooting action-thriller The Lake with plans to next turn to comedy The Runaround and sci-fi TV series Counterpart. He has five projects, including The Accountant, in the can.
Legendary is still understandably gung-ho about Skull Island given the monster grosses of Jurassic World, another anticipated update of a beloved, classic property. The studio aims to recast both roles quickly to keep to the new production schedule and make a planned March 2017 release date.
Skull Island will immerse viewers in the dangerous, primordial world of Kong’s island abode as a team of human explorers ventures within its treacherous jungles. It’s unknown whether Kong himself will appear in this first film, but it’s being eyed as a franchise launchpad in the same manner as 2014’s Godzilla. Jordan Vogt-Roberts (The Kings of Summer) is at the helm, working from a script by Godzilla scribe Max Borenstein and Flight screenwriter John Gatins.
Kong: Skull Island is still set to open March 10, 2017, in 3D and IMAX 3D.