Disney’s endeavor to adapt beloved children's stories to big-budget, CGI-driven, live-action blockbusters began in 2010 with Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. Earlier this year, Disney also re-envisioned the villain from Sleepy Beauty in Maleficent. While both films may have left something to be desired in terms of plot, they were both very successful at the box office.
In the coming years, Disney will also release live-action renditions of Cinderella and The Jungle Book from Kenneth Branagh and Jon Favreau, respectively. Though Disney has already signed on many well-known actors and actresses for its newest adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, a beloved veteran has now joined their ranks.
Additionally, Warner Bros. and Andy Serkis’ own adaptation of Kipling’s work has an official release date as well as a new title. Warner Bros. announced the Andy Serkis-helmed project, now titled The Jungle Book: Origins, will be released October 21st, 2016, following Disney’s version little more than a year later (Favreau’s The Jungle Book will hit theaters October 9th 2015). No casting has been announced on Serkis’ Origins.
Disney, on the other hand, announced Bill Murray has been cast as the voice of Baloo, a bear and Mowgli’s (Neel Sethi) friend. Murray joins Idris Elba, who will be voicing Shere Kahn, Ben Kingsley, who will voice Bagheera, as well as Christopher Walken as King Louie, Scarlett Johansson as Kaa, Giancarlo Esposito as Akela, and Lupita Nyong’o as Raksha.
Although both films are based on Kipling’s story about an Indian boy raised by wolves who lives in the jungle among the animals, Serkis previously stated Origins won't shy away from the darkness within the source material. The screenplay, written by Steve and Callie Kloves, is “truthful” to the tone of the original book.
Meanwhile, Disney's take on the adaptation, with Favreau in charge, indicates a lighter take on Kipling’s novel. Indeed, the Elf and Iron Man director has described his Jungle Book adaptation as being "a family brand with certain mythic elements."
Whether or not Disney and Favreau’s The Jungle Book is more lighthearted or captures the darkness of the source material, hopefully the film will be different enough from Serkis’ Origins in order to keep viewers interested, though the responsibility is more on Warner Bros. and Serkis in this instance as their film will be released in the wake of Disney's.
Disney’s upcoming film is the studio’s third adaptation of Kipling’s novel: previously, there was the 1967 animated film and the 1994 live-action movie. The studio also released The Jungle Book 2 in 2003, a sequel to the animated movie, as well as the direct-to-video The Jungle Book: Mowgli’s Story in 1998. Hopefully, Favreau's The Jungle Book will offer a fresh take on the story for fans of Kipling’s story who know these films.
The Jungle Book will premiere October 9th, 2015; The Jungle Book: Origins will premiere October 21st, 2016.
Source: Warner Bros., Disney