Variety reports that Spirit Pictures has purchased the rights to Kong: King of Skull Island, a book written by Joe DeVito and Brad Strickland and released at the time Peter Jackson was working on his version of King Kong.
Spirit apparently has plans to adapt the book, which is a prequel telling the story of Kong's fight for survival on Skull Island. The studio acquired the rights with the help of Merian C. Cooper's family members, who own the rights to all Kong material. Cooper directed the original 1933 King Kong movie along with Ernest B. Schoedsack.
In a statement, Spirit's Steve Iles spoke about plans for the project:
We're very concerned with honoring Merian C. Cooper's legacy in Hollywood. We want to make sure that whatever we deliver will honor his memory.
Spirit is also working on War Eagles, a project originally developed by Cooper and creature-feature ubermeister Ray Harryhausen, who designed the effects for many monster movies during the 1950s-1970s. Harryhausen, was a major influence on Peter Jackson, Joe Dante (Gremlins, Small Soldiers), and Tim Burton.
Cooper and Harryhausen were ready to go into production on War Eagles when WWII began, shelving the project for good. The movie was going to be about a pilot who crash-lands in the arctic and stumbles upon a lost civilization. Arnold Kunert, who is producing both Spirit movies, is optimistic about the project:
Posted 07.27.09 by reelz
It's a combination of all the things that have worked in adventure films for the last 70 or 80 years.