Reboots, revivals, and remakes are a dime a dozen these days. And for every one that actually turns out to be good, there’s probably another five that make you wish the movie or TV show had stayed in the past. Disney itself seems to be on a bit of a live-action adaptation kick as of late.
After Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent, and Cinderella did well at the box office, the studio has ordered at least seven more adaptations that are in various stages of development. Beauty and the Beast, Mulan, Dumbo, Winnie the Pooh, Tinker Bell, and Fantasia are all in the works, but the next one to premiere in theaters will be Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book.
Disney took the stage today at D23 to present a new poster for The Jungle Book. Never-before-seen footage was also shown, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd. Sean Bailey, president of production at Walt Disney Studios, introduced the film and explained how they not only wanted to honor the integrity of the 1967 animated film, but also Rudyard Kipling’s original novel.
Favreau elaborated on the matter, saying how both he and Disney chairman Alan Horn “had different perspectives on something that we both cared deeply about… Finding the balance between the iconic, mythic power of the Kipling and all of the images that I grew up with from the animated feature, how do you combine those things? … How do you build upon that legacy?”
Here is the poster revealed by Disney Studios and some descriptions of the footage from critics at D23. Many are saying the CGI is top-notch and the actors are amazing in their roles.
Christopher Walken as King Louie is just incredible. JUNGLE BOOK just jumped to the top of my 2016 hopes. #D23Expo— Devin Faraci (@devincf) August 15, 2015
Jungle Book footage is pretty incredible. Photorealistic backgrounds. Bill Murray as Baloo. Idris Elba as Shere Khan. Huge vistas. #D23Expo— Empire Magazine (@empiremagazine) August 15, 2015
JUNGLE BOOK live-action footage looks cool/photoreal, but it's the voices people are reacting to: Bill Murray's Balloo especially. #D23Expo— Josh Lincoln Dickey (@JLDlite) August 15, 2015
Ben Kingsley (panther Bagheera), Lupita Nyong’o (mother wolf Raksha), and newcomer Neel Sethi (Mowgli) also joined Favreau on stage to talk about the motion-capture process and show the footage.
It begins with python Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) narrating Mowgli’s origin and discovery by Bagheera. A tiger named Shere Khan (Idris Elba) then tells Mowgli, “The jungle is no longer safe, I’ll return you to where you belong” and chases him off a small cliff. Another clips show’s bear Baloo (Bill Murray) humming ‘Bare Necessities’ to Mowgli while they float down the river. And at the end, an orangutan introduces himself (Christopher Walken): “I’m the king. Call me Louie.”
While Alice in Wonderland and Maleficent each had their share of fans, most critics were quick to point out the movies’ drawbacks. On the other hand, this year’s Cinderella received rave reviews, and The Jungle Book looks poised to get more of the same. Though there’s no telling whether the script and story will live up the visuals and talent (both in front and behind the camera), it seems that Disney has finally figured out how to turn its old masterpieces into new classics.
The Jungle Book is due in theaters on April 15, 2016.