Outtakes: ‘Kong’ set for extended Oahu stay

Sep. 21, 2015 | 0 Comments

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BY MIKE GORDON / mgordon@staradvertiser.com

He’s big, he’s famous, he’s the 800-pound gorilla in the room. With King Kong in a movie, you’re guaranteed to make an impact — and Hawaii is about to feel it.

COURTESY UNIVERSAL

COURTESY UNIVERSAL

“Kong: Skull Island,” the state’s biggest feature film project for 2015, will start filming on Oahu in mid-October and stay on location through the end of the year, according to Hawaii Film Commissioner Donne Dawson.

The film from Legendary Pictures has been described on Internet Movie Database as an origin story about King Kong, but not much else has been revealed. It stars Tom Hiddleston (“Thor,” “The Avengers”), Brie Larson (“Short Term 12,” “The Spectacular Now”) and Samuel L. Jackson (“Pulp Fiction,” “Django Unchained”). Jordan Vogt-Roberts will direct. He’s best known for “The Kings of Summer.”

The project is definitely Kong-size, with an estimated 1,500 local hires — production crew, background extras and support services — Dawson said. Another 200 people are coming from outside Hawaii.

Legendary shot the 2014 film “Godzilla” here and liked working in the islands. And local hires help them keep their expenses down, Dawson said.

“I have always said that one successful production begets the next one,” she said. “They had a hugely successful experience with ‘Godzilla,’ and I am certain that contributed to their decision to come here again.”

Preproduction on “Kong: Skull Island” began in late July, after several months of location scouting, Dawson said. So far, shooting is limited to Oahu, with jungle and urban locations being considered, she said.

“I am not going to reveal specific locations, but they are looking at everything,” she said. “They have been all over the island, and they are looking at every manner of location.”

She predicts that Hawaii will play a significant role in the film, which is expected to be released in March 2017, simply because of the length of time the production will be here.

“They are taking advantage of every diverse location we have to offer,” she said. “We have amazing locations.”

There’s been no official casting announcement for “Kong: Skull Island,” but an open call for extras for “a big feature film shooting on Oahu” will be held Saturday at Keehi Lagoon Memorial Park, according to a flier that casting director Sande Alessi is circulating online. Interested extras will be seen every hour, on the hour, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Los Banos Building. You need to bring a 3-by-5-inch color photograph of yourself.

Alessi won’t discuss the movie or name it, noting only that she has “hundreds and hundreds of roles to cast.” If you show up Saturday, you’ll have to take it on faith that the project is worth working on because even then she won’t tell you its name.

Alessi has been in the casting business for 20 years and worked on high-profile films, including “The Lone Ranger,” “Argo” and “Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides,” which shot on Oahu and Kauai in 2010.

She promises the casting call at Keehi will be a good time.

“We do a talent show as people fill the room,” she said. “A lot of people come because they think they have talent, and I’m thrilled. It’s entertaining for the crowd.”

Extras who are hired will get paid, of course: $70 for eight hours if they do not belong to the SAG-AFTRA union or $157 for the same period if they do.
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Mike Gordon covers film and television in Hawaii for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Email him at mgordon@staradvertiser.com and follow him on Twitter. Read his weekly “Outtakes” column Sundays in the Star-Advertiser.

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