“Kong: Skull Island” surprised both critics and analysts over the weekend, taking in an estimated $61 million at box offices in the U.S. and Canada and $81.6 million internationally and besting the Wolverine flick “Logan,” starring Hugh Jackman, which was in its second week.
“We’re thrilled, happy and really excited by this tremendous result,” said Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros.’ distribution chief about a film that analysts expected to gross $45 to $50 million in its North American debut, Tre’vell Anderson reports for the Los Angeles Times.
Goldstein “predicts Monday actuals might come in higher,” the AP’s Lindsey Bahr reports in Time. “The film, which earned a B CinemaScore overall, was graded stronger by younger audiences, many of whom will have extra days off soon for spring break.”
“The word of mouth is really kicking in,” Goldstein said.
“Set in the waning days of the Vietnam War, ‘Kong: Skull Island’ exchanges embassy helicopter rescues for oversized primates looming large against a fog-encrusted jungle setting. Jordan Vogt-Roberts, who made a splash with the Sundance favorite ‘Kings of Summer,’ directed the picture, with Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, and Brie Larson heading up an ensemble cast,” writes Reuters’ Brent Lang in the Huffington Post.
“Critics embraced the decision to give an ‘Apocalypse, Now’ sheen to the oft-filmed story of King Kong, with Variety’s Owen Gleiberman hailing it as ‘a rousing and smartly crafted primordial-beastie spectacular,’” Lang continues.
Gleiberman also says it “proves to be a better creature feature than either of the previous remakes.” And it’s “10 times as good as ‘Jurassic World’” if, as Bob Murphy used to say, you’re keeping score at home.
“I literally groaned when I first saw the trailer of ‘Kong: Skull Island,”’ writes Fred Hawson on his Fred Said blog, which was picked up by ABS-CBN News and no doubt expresses the King ennui felt by many a potential moviegoer across the globe. “Really? Yet another Kong movie, barely 10 years or so after Peter Jackson's ‘King Kong’ (2005). Then the trailer goes on to show huge lizards and spiders, another groan,” he continues.
But, in the end, as predictable as it all may be, Hawson is on board: “This film is so formulaic and so over-the-top, yet for some strange reason it was actually quite entertaining,” he concludes. In fact, after the for-real end, he’s looking for more of the same: “If you are patient enough to wait after all the end credits have rolled up, you will be rewarded with an extra scene suggesting a sequel/s with Godzilla, Mothra and other giant monsters.”
And therein lies the long-term strategy — a familiar one of late: sequels, sequels, sequels.
“The end of ‘Kong: Skull Island’ makes it clear that the movie is part of Legendary Studio's larger Monsterverse, with the appearance of Project Monarch — the organization set up in 2014's ‘Godzilla’ to keep track of monsters — and a brief glimpse of the monstrous threats that lie ahead in future movies. But who were those other creatures? For those not versed in Godzilla and kaiju lore, here's a quick primer of the four beasties briefly glimpsed in cave paintings,” writes Graeme McMillan in a Hollywood Reporter spoiler of “who else might lie in wait.”
Glancing in the other direction, Mekado Murphy takes a look at the “five ages” of Kong — versions from 1933, 1962, 1976, 2005 and 2017 — in the New York Times.
About that Peter Jackson version, if younger moviegoers appetite for the beast has been whetted by “Skull Island”:
“History has been too unkind to the director's 2005 film, which should be remembered not as lumbering and mindless, but as majestic and mesmerizing,” Chris Hartwell also writes for the Hollywood Reporter. Actually, he reminds us, “Jackson's film was actually well-reviewed at the time, holding an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes.” But some maintained it was bloated and overindulgent and it has become yet-another victim of the trolls.
“In the years since its release, those criticisms have grown all the louder as they’ve bounced around the internet echo chamber, ultimately condemning the 2005 rendering as a misinterpretation, if not a complete destruction, of the original film,” Hartwell tells us.
Looking to the future, a viable 3D Kong should be ready in … well, what do you think? Say another dozen years or so?