Live-Action King Kong Series Set to Disney+

Disney is currently developing a live-action King Kong series for its Disney+ streaming service

Based upon 1933’s King Kong, which was written by Merican C. Cooper, the series will look to recapture the magic of the pivotal film while also showcasing his origins. The show will be a serialized drama that will explore the history of the giant ape as well as his home location of Skull Island. The show will also incorporate details based on recent novelizations by Joe DeVito, which were produced with Cooper’s estate.

The Disney+ King Kong show will be written by Stephany Folsom, who recently found success adapting Paper Girls to television for Amazon. Folsom will also executive produce alongside James Wan, Michael Clear, and Rob Hackett will also executive produce on behalf of Atomic Monster along with Dannie Festa for World Builder Entertainment. Additionally, Disney Branded Television will produce.

New Disney Plus King Kong Live-Action Series Will Explore Famous Monster’s Origin Story

Disney Branded Television ash bought the rights and is in very early development on King Kong (working title), a series for Disney+ tracking the original story of the famous ape. Deals have just closed for the project, from James Wan’s Atomic Monster, which would mark the first live-action series set in the Kong universe.

Hop onboard the ship and a take trip to the terrifying Complicated Copyright Island

The way this all works out is very complicated, even more than most old pop culture things that have been around for nearly 100 years, but the short version—after decades of legal battles—is that the original King Kong novelization is in the public domain, but not the original King Kong movie and not King Kong the character. Merian C. Cooper’s estate owns some of the rights to the character and Universal owns some of the rest, but no single entity owns all of the King Kong brand.

That’s why the Monsterverse movies are a team-up between Warner and Legendary, since they’re both combining what they own rather than fighting over it. Also, while we’re here, we can also thank the ridiculous web of King Kong rights for giving us Kirby. The character was named after former Nintendo attorney John Kirby, who successfully fought off a lawsuit from Universal in the ‘80s over Nintendo’s Donkey Kong, which Universal claimed was a ripoff of King Kong. As covered in an episode of Netflix’s video game history documentary High Score, John Kirby argued that Universal doesn’t even own King Kong, so Nintendo couldn’t have infringed on its copyright, which effectively saved the entire company.

Jump ahead a few decades and the same mess of copyrights that made that possible have made it possible for Disney+ to have a King Kong show while Apple TV+ also has a King Kong show and Warner Bros. co-produces King Kong movies. Related: Steamboat Willie enters the public domain in 2024, so in a few years every streaming service can have live-action King Kong shows and live-action Mickey Mouse shows (provided they’re explicitly based on that Mickey Mouse and not the modern version of the character).

It’s worth noting that Netflix currently has a Skull Island anime series in production, so expect to see plenty of King Kong in the coming years. The character most recently starred in two Monsterverse films, Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla vs. Kong. There is also a sequel to Godzilla vs. Kong in active production that will once again be helmed by Adam Wingard. Additionally, Apple is working on a live-action Godzilla series.

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Michael P
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