Warner Bros. Pictures spent a chunk of the 2000s attempting to revitalize the long-running Tarzan live-action movie franchise, even after the film Tarzan and the Lost City bombed at the box office in 1998. Directors such as Guillermo del Toro (Pacific Rim) and Stephen Sommers (The Mummy (1999)) were attached to direct a big-budget Tarzan reboot at different points during the ’00s, before screenwriter Adam Cozad (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit) and writer/director Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow) were recruited by WB to pen different script drafts for a new Tarzan movie – and for a while, Brewer was poised to direct the project based on his screenplay, with rumors circulating that WB’s intention was for the film to kick-off a whole new Tarzan movie trilogy.
Ultimately, though, Brewer’s Tarzan movie fell off the rails and led instead to The Legend of Tarzan, a film that Brewer and Cozad share screenwriting credit on – with David Yates (of Harry Potter fame) having stepped in to direct. WB has already released a teaser trailer for the expensive adventure film (one that reportedly cost $180 million to produce), but now the studio has unveiled a second trailer that showcases more of True Blood‘s Alexander Skarsgård in action as the ‘Lord of the Jungle’. You can watch the new Legend of Tarzan trailer, above.
While Legend of Tarzan will cover its namesake’s origins, as established in the film’s new trailer, Skarsgård’s Tarzan is in fact an older and more seasoned version of the character – one who no longer resides in Africa, but has taken up his title as John Clayton III, Lord Greystroke, and now lives in London, when the film begins. The other key players in the story here include Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street) as Tarzan’s wife, Jane, who returns to the Congo with her husband to serve as a trade emissary for England’s parliament; Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained) as Captain Leon Rom, a Belgian warlord who plans to exploit the Congo by using Tarzan and Jane as pawns in his scheme; Djimon Hounsou (Guardians of the Galaxy) as Chief Mbonga, the local African chief who opposes Captain Rom and distrusts Tarzan by association; and Samuel L. Jackson as George Washington Williams, a U.S. Civil War vet (no, not the one he played in The Hateful Eight) who joins forces with Tarzan to save the day.
WB has also released a new poster for The Legend of Tarzan (via GMA) – one that emphasizes that Skarsgård’s Tarzan is a more world-weary iteration of the character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, as illustrated by the scarring on his arms. You can have a look at the new one-sheet, below:
Legends of Tarzan, judging by the latest trailer footage released for the film, will be an action/adventure of impressive scale and scope; it’s also clearly more of a PG-13 jungle adventure that Disney’s comparable live-action The Jungle Book movie that’s arriving this April (some two and a half months before Legend of Tarzan). Whereas Jungle Book features both an Indian jungle setting and animal characters that are almost entirely CGI creations, Legend of Tarzan combines a much more substantial number of practical sets and elements (that includes several human actors, rather than Jungle Book‘s sole human lead Neel Sethi) with digital environments and CGI gorillas, lions, and so on. The point being, it will be interesting to see which of these two big-budget features set in the jungle (different jungles, admittedly) features the overall more convincing and seamless aesthetic, at the end of the day.
There is some reason to be concerned about Legend of Tarzan in that regard, as it’s been reported in the past that Yates’ commitment to directing Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (due to reach theaters later in 2016) may have affected his involvement during post-production on WB’s expensive Tarzan reboot film. Similarly, there is fair reason to wonder if a fresh installment in the Tarzan franchise is something that enough moviegoers will be interested in checking out to make the film a box office success – not to mention, if Yates, Cozad, and Brewer have successfully managed to tweak the outdated elements of the Tarzan mythology – like, giving Jane more to do than be kidnapped and wait around for Tarzan to rescue her (or how much the Tarzan property is rooted in a British colonialist mentality).
It’s for these reasons that Legend of Tarzan remains one of 2016’s big “wild cards” as far as its commercial prospects go – though, to end on a more positive note, the film’s trailers have shown promise, so far.
The Legend of Tarzan will open in U.S. theaters on July 1st, 2016.
Source: Warner Bros. Pictures [via GMA]