Last month, Warner Bros.' King Kong prequel Kong: Skull Island suffered a bit of a casting setback, when previously-announced stars J.K. Simmons and Michael Keaton backed out due to scheduling conflicts. Today, Deadline reports the studio may have found replacements for those Kong: Skull Island roles with Samuel L. Jackson and John C. Reilly. Tom Wilkinson is also being eyed for a lead role. Samuel L. Jackson is in early talks with the studio to take over J.K. Simmons' role, with John C. Reilly atop Warner Bros.' wish list to take over Michael Keaton's role, although an offer has not been made yet.
Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson are set to star, with Corey Antonio Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton) recently signing on. No details have been given for any of these actors' roles. The story centers on a group of explorers who go on an expedition deep inside the treacherous, primordial island. This new adventure will fully immerse audiences in the mysterious and dangerous home of the king of the apes, while honoring the foundations of existing King Kong lore, but the story is set in an entirely new, distinct timeline.
Russell Crowe has also been eyed for a role, but his involvement has not been confirmed yet. Jordan Vogt-Roberts (The Kings of Summer) is directing from a screenplay by John Gatins (Need for Speed, Real Steel), who rewrote the original script by Max Borenstein (Godzilla, Seventh Son). It isn't known how many more roles are still needed to be cast. Warner Bros. has set a March 10, 2017 release date, with production slated to begin in either late 2015 or early 2016.
Before he dropped out, J.K. Simmons revealed earlier this year that Kong: Skull Island will be partially set in 1970s Detroit, but it isn't known how much of the story will take place there. Given the title, it's probably a safe bet that a majority of the story takes place on Skull Island. The timeframe and setting were never confirmed by Warner Bros., so it's possible that this may all change before shooting begins.
Kong: Skull Island will go up against 20th Century Fox's Captain Underpants on March 10, 2017. Samuel L. Jackson most recently starred in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Barely Lethal and Big Game, and he will next be seen in The Hateful Eight, hitting theaters on Christmas Day. John C. Reilly will next be seen in The Lobster.