Kong: Skull Island has lost two of its great actors. Deadline reports that Michael Keaton and J.K. Simmons have both left the project due to scheduling conflicts. The movie was originally set to begin filming in the fall, but pushed back its production to the end of the year. Because both actors have other commitments and Kong is likely to be a demanding shoot (as most action movies are), they had to exit. Thankfully, Tom Hiddleston remains on board.
Also, while it sucks that Keaton and Simmons are leaving, at least it’s not under “creative differences”. These scheduling conflicts happen, and there’s no reason to think that there’s anything inherently wrong with the film, which intends to “fully immerse audiences in the mysterious and dangerous home of the iconic ape as a team of explorers ventures deep inside the treacherous, primordial island.” We don’t know much more than that, although Simmons said back in January that some of the movie takes place in 1971 Detroit.
Legendary Pictures will recast the roles ASAP and keep their production schedule intact. While it’s a bummer to lose Keaton and Simmons, hopefully they’ll find a couple of other great actors for what are hopefully great roles.
I’m not sure if I’m “excited” for Kong, but I think there’s at least more room for director John Vogt-Roberts to move around than fellow Sundance director Colin Trevorrow had on Jurassic World. The flipside is that Kong is harder sell because Peter Jackson’s remake and the 1976 version are pretty much forgotten, and pretty much everyone who went to see King Kong when it opened in 1933 is dead. I’m fan of Vogt-Roberts’ previous film, The Kings of Summer, and I’m interested to see what he’ll do on an island with a gigantic ape and other monsters.
Kong: Skull Island is set to open in 3D and IMAX 3D on March 10, 2017.