Legendary Pictures And Warner Brothers Are Being Sued Over 'Kong: Skull Island' Dispute

Ah Hollywood, the place where everybody wants a piece of every pie. Apparently the creator and artist of the book 'Kong: King of Skull Island' Joe DeVito is filing a suit saying that Legendary/Warner Bros. have violated their "implied contract" with the creator and is also claiming that the companies used the framework of his story for their new film 'Kong: Skull Island'. 

DeVito's attorney submitted the following statement:

"More than 80 years have passed since the public was introduced to Merian C. Cooper’s King Kong," states the complaint filed Wednesday by DeVito's attorney Randy Merritt. "In that entire time, not one motion picture or television program has told the story of the iconic creature’s origin or his relationship to the mysterious island on which he was found."

Now, this statement is extremely strange and doesn't make a whole lot of sense especially considering we have had two film reboots of this franchise/monster so far and the 2005 Peter Jackson Kong specifically brought up a lot of hints towards Kong's history within the visuals. There does however seem to be one part of this whole thing that may have some validity. According to the Hollywood Reporter, there was going to be a high budget TV series produced by Legendary that was going to be directly based on the book, but the deal fell through eventually. It sounds like he got screwed over by the companies wanting to do something different with Kong.

During an April 22, 2014, pitch meeting at Legendary, DeVito says his team presented its vision for the Kong Skull Island project, including how the events after Kong’s death could tie to events before his discovery. Despite what DeVito paints as a positive response to the pitch, Legendary passed on the project and, because of its new relationship with the studio, di Bonaventura backed out as well.

After searching for other production partners, DeVito claims in July 2014 he came to an agreement with Warner Bros. That same summer, Legendary announced its release of a Skull Island motion picture and not too long after DeVito says the company bullied Warners into dropping out of his series. 

“When reminded that the agreement for the Kong Skull Island Project called for a guaranteed pilot, Warner Bros. negotiated a kill fee with the Writers and returned the rights to the Kong Skull Island Property to DeVito ArtWorks,” states the complaint. 

Legendary later announced Warner Bros. would be taking over for Universal Studios on production of the film.

Now look, obviously I haven't seen any more footage from the film 'Kong: Skull Island' than the rest of you, but what I do know is this: from what I can tell, there are absolutely no similarities between DeVito's book and the upcoming film! The book works as a sequel to the original Kong in which Carl Denham's son (Vincent Dunham) ends up going back to the island and has to be saved by an aged Jack Driscoll. It does a bunch of flashbacks and shows the origin of the original 'King Kong' (1933) and shows the effect taking Kong had on the villagers (once again just to be specific, the 1933 Kong villagers).

 The new film is going a completely different direction, with the events of the 1933 Kong never happening and a new group of characters discovering the island in the 1970s during the height of the Vietnam war. This Kong seems to be more in line with the 1976 film, and is just using the base concepts of the ape and the island (Dinosaurs may be included too, but for now we actually have no idea). Not to mention, this being tied to the Legendary Godzilla-verse and being a set up for the film 'Godzilla vs Kong' which further distances itself from the story of DeVito's book (Kong is dead in the book since it is a sequel to the original film). This movie seems like it is the first time anyone has seen the creature, and is a completely new take on the legendary monster and his history.

While the properties (film and book) may have originally been intended to be be similar, I just don't see any actual evidence of that being the case anymore. Maybe the creator of the book, DeVito, knows more than we do, but for now this seems like someone lashing out because they weren't able to get a TV deal/movie deal. Also, one could argue that he owns no actual stake in the Kong character, since I believe the rights are currently owned by Warner and Legendary (if not, then they are probably on loan from Universal). 

Do you think that this guy's suit is valid? Have you read the book 'Kong: King of Skull Island' and would like to give your thoughts on it? Comment below and let me know!