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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
During the scene where the team is about to take off to the island from the boat, Colonel Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) says the line, "hold on to your butts." This is an obvious reference to Jurassic Park (1993) where his character in that film says the same thing
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.
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.
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").
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 as Nova Corps Officer Rhomann Dey, Shea Wigham as Roger Dooley in Agent Carter,Toby Kebbel in Fantastic Four, and Brie Larson, who will play the title character in Captain Marvel (2019). All, except "Fantastic Four", are part of the "Marvel Cinematic Universe.
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.
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.
Hank Marlow mentions that a species of giant ants that sound like birds lives on Skull Island. This may be a reference to Them! (1954), a film about a species of 8 foot long ants that sound like chirping birds being discovered in the New Mexico desert.
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.
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).
John C. Reilly played Steve Brule in Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! (2007), in which his character's famous catch-phrase is "For your health". In this film, on the back of his jacket, it says "Good For Your Health." A possible reference.
John. C. Reilly's character, Hank Marlow, wears a denim jacket that has the phrase "good for your health" sewn into it. In the show Check it Out with Dr. Steve Brule, Reilly plays the titular character who's catchphrase is "For your health"
In the intro credits there is a sketch of a turtle with the words 'MUTO - 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).
John C. Reilly's character wears a jacket which has "Good for your health" embroidered on the back. This is likely a reference to Reilly's character "Dr. Steven Bruell" as seen on Tim and Eric. Dr. Steven Bruell has appeared in various Tim and Eric productions and often ends his appearances by slurring "For your health!"
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).
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 trivia items below may give away important plot points.
There is an after credits scene which sets up the monster universe by notifying that kong isn't the only king, or monster out there. This leads to pictures of Godzilla, Mothra and other Godzilla villians. Followed by Godzilla's roar that can be heard when the scene ends.
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.