Actor Samuel L. Jackson stated on a talk show that throughout filming, he and his co-stars had no concrete idea of just how big Kong was supposed to be, since whenever they asked they kept getting conflicting answers.
Kong: Skull Island features the tallest incarnation of Kong in an American film, standing approximately 104 feet (31.6 meters) tall, while Peter Jackson's Kong was only 25 feet (7.6 meters) tall by comparison. The tallest incarnation of Kong overall is the one featured in King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), which stood approximately 147 feet (45 meters) tall. However it is stated in the film that Kong isn't yet fully grown so this could mean he may be taller in future releases.
John C. Reilly's character Marlow and Tom Hiddleston's character Conrad are likely references to Joseph Conrad and the lead character Marlow from Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness. The novella, as well as the film it inspired, Apocalypse Now, are thematic and visual inspirations for Kong: Skull Island.
Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts admitted that he was strongly influenced by video games from his childhood. That is why the movie contains many point-of-view shots of guns being fired (like in a first-person shooting game), and the shot of a helicopter making 360 degrees spins towards the ground was inspired by a similar scene from a Resident Evil game.
At the premiere in Vietnam the 16 foot tall display model statue of King Kong was engulfed in flames which was caused by the models of smaller volcanoes surrounding the statue. The fire was extinguished in fifteen minutes and no one was hurt.
The scene where Kong fights a giant octopus is a homage to the Toho film King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), in which Kong's first fight is against a giant octopus. Kong eats the octopus afterwards could be in reference to the fact that the VFX directors for that film, Eiji Tsuburaya, ate one of the four live octopuses used for the scene for dinner.
The Mother Longlegs spiders could be a homage to the giant spider with crab claws that was cut from the original 1933 King Kong movie. Also the Skull Crawlers could be a homage to the two legged lizard that climbs up the side of the mountain in the original movie.
Marlow's allusion to (unseen) "really big ants" that "sound like birds" is undoubtedly a reference to "THEM!" (1954) another 1950's scifi flick which, in addition to "The Beginning of the End" (1957)--a few clips of which are shown in the exposition-- features insects "enlarged" by US atomic tests. The latter film features grasshoppers--filmed walking across a photograph of a building in an attempt to depict a plague of gigantic insects invading Chicago.
The magnificent scenes of mountains, rivers, grass field were mostly being shot in Vietnam (Ninh Binh, Quang Binh,...). Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts and other actors, actresses said that those places in Vietnam are the most beautiful places that they've ever been to.
According to director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, the first draft of the screenplay had the action take place in 1917, and was an entirely different film. Although he liked the script, he didn't think it was something he wanted to make. When asked what kind of monster movie he had in mind, he suggested to have it take place in the Vietnam war era, as a sort of 'Apocalypse Now (1979) with monsters', since there had never been a monster movie set in that time. He also saw interesting parallels between the political turmoil and racial riots from the 1970s and the 2010s. Contrary to his expectation, the studio loved the idea, and the script was reworked from there.
Toby Kebbell did motion capture work as an ape (Koba) in Dawn of the Planet of The Apes with Andy Serkis who did motion capture work as Caeser. Andy Serkis had played King Kong in the Peter Jackson remake of King Kong.
Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts is a fan of video games, anime and manga and littered the movie with references to them. For example the jacket worn by John C. Reilly's character ("Good for your health, bad for your education") is an obvious spin on the one worn by Kaneda in Katsuhiro Otomo's manga "Akira" ("Good for health, bad for education").
In the intro credits there is a sketch of a turtle with the words 'M.U.T.O. - Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism' written beside it. This could be a reference to the Gamera movies which involve a giant turtle attacking Japan, or the two giant turtles from Toho movies, the skeleton remains of one in Godzilla vs Mothra (1964) and Kamoebas from Space Amoeba (1970).
This film features five actors and one actress who have appeared, or will appear, as characters in films based on Marvel comics: Samuel L. Jackson played S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury, Tom Hiddleston played Loki, John C. Reilly played Nova Corps Officer Rhomann Dey, Shea Wigham played Roger Dooley in Agent Carter, Toby Kebbel appeared in Fantastic Four, and Brie Larson will play the title character in Captain Marvel (2019). All, except Fantastic Four, are part of the "Marvel Cinematic Universe".
The production was on location January 2016 at the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. On January 15, 2016, filming was on location at Mt. Tamborine, in the Gold Coast Hinterland. Local newspaper The Gold Coast Bulletin ran headline front page stories about the film's production on January 12, and January 14, 2016.
This King Kong film will be released 12 years after Peter Jackson's King Kong (2005), 84 years after the original black and white version from 1933 and 55 & 50 years after the Toho Kong movies: King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) and King Kong Escapes (1967).
This is the fifth King Kong film, in which characters such as Ann Darrow, Carl Denham, and Jack Driscoll do not appear. It is also the second film that is different from the 1933 version in terms of the plot. The others being the sequel to the original, "Son of Kong", the two Toho films, and the 1976 version.
John C. Riley's character Hank Marlow wears a jacket that says "Good for health" on the back. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts confirmed this is an allusion to Riley's days at adult swim, but also to the anime film Akira
There are subtle references to the movie "Jeremiah Johnson." At one point the characters must decide if they should walk through a sacred graveyard with many skeletons, or go around and thus take a longer route. The other reference is when John C. Reilly's character asks about the outcome of the war: "Who won?" A line that Robert Redford used in his movie as well.
Bill Randa (John Goodman) doesn't believe in aliens. He had previously played the alien robot Hound in the "Transformers" films. His co-star Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime) had previously voiced Kong in King Kong (1976).
While it seems most of the boat is made from the forward fuselage/cockpit and components of a B-29 Superfortress, the forward twin machine gun emplacement is actually not from that kind of aircraft. Instead, it is a modified ventral "belly" or "ball" turret of a B-17 Flying Fortress or B-24 Liberator bomber, made by Sperry. All 3 aircraft were used in the Pacific theatre (although by 1943 all B-17 units were converted to B-24s). Ball turrets were not well-liked because the gunner (a small man) was crammed entirely into the turret, sitting in a fetal position between the 2 .50 Machineguns, aiming between his legs. Entry or exit into the ball turret could only happen when the turret and fuselage hatches were properly aligned; if turret damage prevented this for any reason the gunner was trapped and had better hope that the landing gear was OK because there wasn't room for a normal parachute. Instead of this system the B-29 had an advanced system of 2 upper and 2 lower quad (4-gun) turrets that were aimed remotely (the gunner wasn't actually in the turret).
On the FX cable TV version of the Samuel L. Jackson film of Snakes on a Plane (2006), the often quoted line is changed to "I have had it with these monkey-fighting snakes on this Monday-to-Friday plane!" Ironically, Jackson later ended up fighting monkey type creatures in both The Legend of Tarzan (2016) and Kong: Skull Island (2017).
The names Conrad and Marlow are a reference to the novel "Heart of darkness" , written by Joseph Conrad featuring a main character named Marlow. The novel was also the inspiration for the movie Apocalypse now.
Director Vogt-Roberts stated that he wanted Kong to look simple and iconic enough that a third grader could easily draw him and the image would still be recognizable, Vogt-Roberts also wanted Kong to feel like a "lonely God, he was a morose figure lumbering around this island" and took the design back to the 1933 incarnation where Kong was presented as a "Bipedal creature that walks in an upright position" Vogt-Roberts additionally stated "if anything our Kong is meant to be a throwback to the '33 version, some of those cartoonish and iconic qualities and then make them their own, we created something that to some degree served as a throwback to the inspiration for what started all of this but then also it had to be a fully unique and different creature that I would like to think is fully contained and identifiable as the 2017 version of King Kong, I think there are very modern elements to him yet hopefully he feels very timeless at the same time.
When Mason Weaver is surprised at the top of a cliff by Kong, she slowly approaches to the beast and touches him with a sweet caress on the muzzle. It's probably an homage to the Jurassic franchise character Sarah Harding, who does the same thing in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, caressing the muzzle of a baby stegosaurus.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
There is an after credits scene which sets up the MonsterVverse by establishing that Kong isn't the only king, or monster, out there. This leads to pictures of Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah, followed by Godzilla's roar that can be heard when the scene ends.
Kong's design is inspired by a combination of King Kong (1933) and the Japanese adaptation in the 1960s. This allows the creative team to both utilize a look similar to the classic Kong, while drawing upon the exaggerated "kaiju" aspects, and powers, displayed by the Japanese adaptation, such as greatly exaggerated height, build, strength, and supernatural abilities. This will allow a more "even" confrontation with Godzilla, in the upcoming Godzilla vs. Kong (2020).
The copyrights of the Kong franchise are complicated: the novelization of the original 1933 film are now in the public domain. One small difference between the movie and the novelization is the name of Captain Englehorn's ship. In the film, it is the Venture, in the novel it is the Wanderer. This is probably why the hulk discovered on Skull Island is the Wanderer.
Just as Godzilla featured characters that worked for Project Monarch and the term M.U.T.O., so too does Kong: Skull Island, tying both together perhaps for inclusion in the Godzilla versus King Kong movie.
Many ideas were suggested for the post-credit scene in order to tie the film to Godzilla (2014) and the future movies in the MonsterVerse. One idea was to have the characters see Godzilla surface in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. However, director Jordan Vogt-Roberts vetoed the idea because this would violate the notion from the 2014 movie that Godzilla was hardly ever seen before that time. It would also have required an inordinate amount of the budget that he preferred to spend on the rest of the movie. So he pitched the idea of the conference room with the projector, as it appears in the end of the movie.
John Goodman's character says he is the sole survivor of a ship accident involving a monster. This is likely a reference to Godzilla who we learn is connected to this film during the after-credits scene.