Growing up, I’ve watched different iterations of Rudyard Kipling’s 1894 “Jungle Book” – the story of Mowgli, the orphaned human boy who was brought up by animals in the jungle. The most recent, Disney’s 2016 “The Jungle Book” by Jon Favreau was an entertaining, visually-stunning adaptation. There’s now another to look forward to – a darker, more emotional interpretation by actor-director Andy Serkis. “Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle” is set to debut globally on Netflix on 7 December 2018, with a limited theatrical release from 29 November in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and London.
Mowgli’s story isn’t one we’re not familiar with, and Serkis’ adaptation looks to be faithful to the beloved masterpiece, at least judging from its official theatrical trailer.
As described by Netflix: “It tells the story of a boy torn between two worlds who accepts his destiny and becomes a legend. He has never truly belonged in either the wilds of the jungle or the civilised world of man. Now he must navigate the inherent dangers of each journey to discover where he truly belongs.”
“I wanted to make a very emotional version of this story, we’ve seen many versions Jungle Book,” Serkis said during Netflix’s content showcase “See What’s Next: Asia” hosted for the first time in Asia. “This was about understanding the emotions of being an outsider,” he said.
The film features extensive use of motion capture technology which Serkis’ himself pioneered with the “Lord of the Rings” franchise and also seen in films like “Planet of the Apes” where Serkis plays the lead character Caesar.
Serkis gave an example about how they had to find a sweet spot between the animated characters they play and their real selves. This painstaking process involved taking the actor’s and character’s face gradually morphed into one. The result is that the audience can see both Christian Bale and the panther he plays, Bagheera in the same face.
The big budget, talent-laden film stars A-list actors like Christian Bale, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett, Andy Serkis, Freida Pinto, Matthew Rhys and Naomie Harris. Newcomer Rohan Chand plays Mowgli.
“I’m so thrilled that we’ve come to Netflix. It’s a truly global approach. I’m very happy and I’ve always felt that this was an international film. It didn’t have to just be a success in the US Box Office,” said Serkis.
Catch the official trailer here:
Netflix bought the rights to the film from Warner Bros. in July this year. Warner Bros. planned to release the film in October.
The theatrical release is part of a commitment made by Netflix at the time of the film’s acquisition.
The move is in line with theatrical releases to other films on the streaming platform including Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma,” the Coen brothers’ “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” and “Bird Box.” Some film trade associations and film festivals like Cannes have snubbed Netflix for not releasing its films in theatres.
Netflix currently boasts more than 130 million customers spanning across 190 countries globally.