MarVista Entertainment, a leading independent studio that produces, acquires and distributes premium film and television content, has partnered with IM Global Television, a joint venture between prolific independent studio IM Global, Chinese digital giant Tencent and Tang Media Partners, to develop, co-produce, and co-finance the tale of King Kong for series television. This new series will not be connected to Warner Bros.' movie Kong: Skull Island, or the upcoming Godzilla vs. King Kong. While it will not be connected to the film, it will have a familiar title, King Kong Skull Island.
Based on DeVito ArtWorks' Skull Island property and Merian C. Cooper's King Kong, King Kong Skull Island is a comprehensive King Kong Universe exclusively endorsed by Kong's creator. The series is a serialized, contemporary continuation of the classic with a female-led, multi-cultural ensemble that delves fully into the wonders and horrors of Skull Island and its origins. Academy Award nominees Jonathan Penner and Stacy Title (The Bye Bye Man) are attached as writers/executive producers. Dannie Festa (Trolls) of World Builder Entertainment will executive produce. Here's what MarVista CEO Fernando Szew had to say in a statement.
"Jonathan and Stacy have taken a world that has enraptured audiences in all its many forms over the years and given it a contemporary, female-focused spin. It is with great anticipation that we partner with IM Global Television to bring this exciting new vision directly into viewers' homes."
While the official announcement from Mar Vista doesn't explicitly mention any connection, or lack thereof to Warner Bros. and Legendary's new King Kong movie, DeVito Artworks' Joe DeVito sued Warner Bros. and Legendary last year for stealing an idea he pitched to the studio in 2014 for a King Kong TV series. In 2004, Joe DeVito created the book King Kong Skull Island, with permission from the estate of Merian C. Cooper, who created the character in 1929. His estate currently owns the book and publishing rights to the character. Joe DeVito reportedly entered into an option agreement with the studio, but after the ABC, CBS and Fox passed on the project, the studio reportedly told Joe DeVito that they were no longer interested in the TV series, before Warner Bros. and Legendary started developing their Kong: Skull Island movie. Here's what Dannie Festa had to say about this new project in a statement.
"It's been a privilege to work with Joe DeVito and his truly unique, never-before-seen Kong universe. We feel confident that it will be hugely appealing to fans all over the world."
The rights to King Kong and the giant ape's various incarnations are spread across multiple companies. While Universal holds a majority of the movie rights, Time Warner owns the rights to the original 1933 RKO film, while StudioCanal owns the international rights to the 1976 theatrical remake and its sequel and Paramount owns the domestic rights to the 1976 film. Universal does not own the trademark to the character though. Joe DeVito's original book will serve as the basis for this TV series. Here's what IM Global Television President Mark Stern said in his statement.
"There's clearly a deep and abiding interest in this timeless story. We love Stacy and Jonathan's approach to this adaptation and look forward to partnering with MarVista as we bring this gripping tale of survival and adventure to life for a new generation of Kong fans."
This King Kong Skull Island TV series will be the first ever live-action King Kong show, but there have been a few other animated TV shows in the past. 1966's The King Kong Show was produced through a collaboration between Japan's Toei Animation and produced by Rankin/Bass, making it the first Japan anime series to be commissioned by an American company. Kong: The Animated Series debuted in 2000 and ran for 40 episodes on Fox Kids and spawning two direct-to-video movies, 2005's Kong: King of Atlantis and 2007's Kong: Return to the Jungle. Last year, Netflix announced it is debuted a new Kong animated series, which debuted in April and has been renewed for a second season.