This article was published on KaijuRamenMedia.com on Aug. 24, 2022. To read the original, click here
King Kong is one of the most recognizable monsters in American cinema. First bursting on the screen in the 1933 film King Kong, the monster has delighted audiences ever since. Most recently the giant ape has become one of the leads in Legendary’s MonsterVerse where he duked it out with Godzilla for the first time since 1962. Now, King Kong will make the jump to the small screen for a live-action series on Disney+.
Interestingly, Kong is already making the jump to the small screen for Netflix. Powerhouse Animation, the studio behind Castlevania, is already developing an anime set within the MonsterVerse based around Skull Island and Kong. This series will have no relation to that or any other MonsterVerse project. Instead, Disney has acquired the rights to stories written and produced by Joe DeVito including Kong: King of Skull Island. That book was published in 2005 and acted as a prequel and sequel to the original 1933 classic. Joe Devito’s work on Kong, which includes a number of books, crossovers, comics, and games, was and continues to be, endorsed by the Merian C. Cooper estate.
Disney and Disney+ have signed a deal with James Wan’s production company, Atomic Monster to develop the series but no word with James Wan himself will have any direct involvement at this time. Stephany Folsom, who wrote and developed the Amazon Prime series Paper Girls, an adaptation of the comic of the same name, will serve as showrunner and producer for the upcoming show. According to Deadline, “King Kong [will be] a serialized action-adventure drama that brings the classic monster story into the modern age, with a return to Skull Island and the dawn of a new Kong. The series will explore the mythology of King Kong’s origin story and the supernatural mysteries of his home.”
This is not actually the first time this series has been picked up. About five years ago MarVista Entertainment and IM Global Television began to develop a series titled King Kong Skull Island. That series was developed by Jonathan Penner and his wife Stacy, who died last year after a battle with ALS. This show was also going to be based around the Joe DeVito Kong works but never came to fruition. It’s unlikely Folsom and Disney will use any work that was made for that series in their new adaptation.
Disney is in an interesting position with this new series since many will no doubt be wondering how this is even possible. The rights to King Kong are very tricky and one need only have to look at who developed and distributed every main King Kong feature film to get a taste as to why. Joe DeVito appears to have close to full ownership of everything he’s developed for the Kong character since the original novel is considered to be in the public domain. It’s a complicated situation.
Truthfully there has never been a more exciting time for Kong, rights notwithstanding. With the MonsterVerse having opened the door, it’s nice to see new stories being told outside of just remaking the original film. The new Disney+ series will mark the first live-action show for Kong and has the potential to break some interesting ground. Skull Island has been a fascinating location in fiction for almost 90 years and a TV show is a perfect place to realize its potential.