Andy Serkis says his Jungle Book: Origins film is a more genuine adaptation of the classic novel, and was shot using motion capture. A combination of bad timing and a bit of bad luck have the Serkis-helmed film following the hugely successful Disney version that was released in 2016. Loaded with an all-star cast itself, in addition to directing, Serkis will star as Baloo alongside Benedict Cumberbatch as Shere Khan, Christian Bale as Bagheera, Cate Blanchett as Kaa, Naomie Harris as Nisha, Freida Pinta (presumably as Raksha), and more A-listers.
Where the Disney film spent much of its time with Mowgli coming to terms with his animal family, this version will include the man-cub getting a handle on his human side. In a previous interview with Serkis, he compares his work with Caesar in War for the Planet of the Apes to working with animals whose faces don't move as fluidly as apes. He describes the process as having to create animals from scratch that embody what their actors are truly emoting.
At San Diego Comic-Con, Screen Rant had the opportunity to interview the director about what fans should expect from his upcoming feature, and how it will be different than Jon Favreau's Jungle Book. The previous film is touted as live action and did involve motion capture, but was filmed entirely on a soundstage in Los Angeles. The actor, director, and king of performance capture, boasted that one of the biggest differences in his film is that Jungle Book: Origins was shot on location in South Africa and not on a backlot. He said:
"Well, ours is using Performance Capture and theirs didn’t. Ours is shot on location, it’s in real locations, we shot in South Africa. [The film] is very much more like Live Action Photography... We have these actors who played the animals as opposed to [just voicing] the animals, so there’s a great difference in that. The way of embodying that character and owning that role all the way through the conception and authorship of the role. [This version], as [in] the book, is grounded in India. It’s Colonial and turn of the century, so it has that sort of authenticity and I suppose that sense of [being] closer to Rudyard Kipling’s World."
Warner Bros. is the studio behind Jungle Book: Origins, but there's still a bit of bad luck that Disney's version was a few years ahead of theirs. Favreau's version raked in over $900M at the worldwide box office (just over $350M domestically), but Serkis doesn't seem interested in playing a numbers game. Further differentiating his film from the Disney version, Serkis points out that he's not making a kid's film, and is instead more focused on a more genuine book adaptation. He adds:
"Also [our Jungle Book] is made for an older audience -- it’s not for 5 year olds, it’s not for Disney family ages. It’s darker, it’s much closer to Rudyard Kiplings book, the tone of Rudyard Kipling’s book."
Despite delays, Serkis says the film will be out soon. It is believed the delay was due to Serkis wanting to work more closely with fellow director Alfonso Cuarón to make sure the mo-cap was up to par.
Jungle Book: Origins is expected to hit theaters October 19, 2018.