While it’s still arguable whether the world needs another King Kong movie at this point in time, we here at The Dissolve were starting to come around on the idea of Legendary Entertainment’s Skull Island. The premise—an origin story of sorts for the big ape, confined to his home island rather than his misadventures in civilized society—is intriguing enough, but the casting is what really won us over. Tom Hiddleston signing on was good, but subsequent announcements that J.K. Simmons and Michael Keaton would co-star were really good, particularly in the wake of a very good 2014 for both actors, who won much acclaim for Whiplash and Birdman, respectively. Well, time to temper that excitement a bit, folks, because it turns out Simmons and Keaton won’t be on the team of presumably doomed explorers venturing to the mysterious, misty (I’m assuming) island.
According to Variety, both actors have left the project—which is still being directed by Kings Of Summer helmer Jordan Vogt-Roberts—due to “scheduling conflicts” with the production, which is expected to begin later this year. Not surprisingly, given their awards-festooned 2014s, Keaton and Simmons are both in high demand right now, with the former currently filming the Ray Kroc biopic The Founder and signing on for comic-book adaptation Imagine Agents, and the latter starring in The Meddler, The Runaround, and that recurring nightmare of yours where J.K. Simmons just screams at you until you melt into a pile of goo. (No? Just me?) Given that Legendary is quickly establishing itself as the go-to production house for big-budget CGI action mayhem (following Pacific Rim, Godzilla, Jurassic World, and more), it’s perhaps understandable that Keaton and Simmons wouldn’t want to be tied down with what’s likely to be a long and involved shoot. Hiddleston, who’s an old pro at that type of thing after his adventures in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, remains on board.