In just a few weeks, Godzilla vs. Kong will have the two classic movie monsters facing off against each other. This battle has been a long time coming, starting with 2014’s Godzilla introducing the giant creature for a new generation. To bring the character of King Kong back to the public consciousness, Kong: Skull Island was released in 2017, starring Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hiddleston, John Goodman, and John C. Reilly. With Godzilla vs. Kong coming at the end of the month, it looks as though this looming battle has reinvigorated viewers to rewatch Kong: Skull Island, as the film is currently the 5th most-watched film on HBO Max in the United States.
Kong: Skull Island is set in 1973 and centers around a group of scientists and Vietnam War soldiers who go to Skull Island in order to meet Kong. While Kong is a massive ape that is the last of his species, there are still plenty of other unknown horrors that await this group as they try to come into contact with Kong. Kong: Skull Island starred Hiddleston as James Conrad, who served in the Vietnam War who is hired as a tracker for the trip, while Brie Larson is Mason Weaver, an anti-war journalist. Samuel L. Jackson is Preston Packard, a United States Army Lieutenant Colonel who is the leader of the group’s military escort.
Considering Kong: Skull Island is set decades before the other films in this franchise, understandably, none of the cast members have appeared in subsequent releases. Kong: Skull Island seemed to exist in order to set up the eventual battle between Kong and Godzilla, and it doesn’t look like there were plans to ever make a direct sequel to the film. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts said that he would be interested in doing a smaller follow-up film focusing on John C. Reilly’s character in the film. Netflix has also announced earlier this year that they are making an anime-style series about characters who have been shipwrecked on Skull Island over the years. Yet it is kind of surprising the series hasn’t done more with their impressive cast of stars like Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, and Tom Hiddleston.
It’s even more surprising that there was never a direct follow-up to Kong: Skull Island, considering the film is still the most successful in the recent Warner Bros. reboot of both the Godzilla and Kong franchises. Kong: Skull Island made $566 million worldwide against a $185 million budget. While there has only been one Kong movie so far in this new series, none of the Godzilla films made in this franchise have come close. When it comes to box-office returns, Kong is the clear winner here.
Kong: Skull Island also did respectably well critically, as the film currently has a 75% on Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer, and a 69% audience score. Despite Kong: Skull Island never receiving a direct sequel, many of the stars have appeared together in other films. Since Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson are all major parts of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they have all appeared together again in 2019’s Avengers: Endgame.
In addition to Avengers: Endgame, Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson have both worked together several times since Kong: Skull Island. Jackson appeared in Brie Larson’s 2017 directorial debut, Unicorn Store, and 2019’s Captain Marvel focused heavily on the relationship between Jackson and Larson’s characters.
As the actor whose films have made more money combined than any other actor ever, Samuel L. Jackson has of course stayed busy since Kong: Skull Island. Not only has he appeared in four Marvel Cinematic Universe films since the release of Kong: Skull Island, he’s also become the star of his own franchise, with 2017’s The Hitman’s Bodyguard alongside Ryan Reynolds, he’s returned to voice Frozone in The Incredibles 2, reprised his role of Mr. Glass in M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass, and returned to play Shaft once more in 2019’s Shaft. Most recently, Jackson appeared in 2020’s The Banker, alongside another Marvel hero, Anthony Mackie.
As this franchise heads towards its big moment of having Godzilla face-off against King Kong, Kong: Skull Island remains the most successful film in this series, and with a great cast that includes actors like Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, Samuel L. Jackson, and Tom Hiddleston, it’s no wonder that the film is currently one of the most-watched films on HBO Max.