— The Jungle Book (@TheJungleBook) February 21, 2016
In the latest example of Hollywood synchronicity, there are two different live-action adaptations of the same property on the horizon: Disney's The Jungle Book from Iron Man helmer Jon Favreau and The Jungle Book: Origins, directed by motion-capture expert Andy Serkis for Warner Bros. Both films are based on Rudyard Kipling's classic collection of short stories and will release within a year and a half of each other, with Favreau's film opening this April.
Taking inspiration from the 1967 animated film, Disney's The Jungle Book, while honoring the legacy of Kipling's fables, Favreau's film boasts an all-star cast, featuring Idris Elba (Shere Khan), Scarlett Johansson (Kaa), Bill Murray (Baloo), and Christopher Walken (King Louie) and Ben Kingsley (Bagheera). The Jungle Book is just one of many live-action renderings of classic stories from Disney in 2016, which will also release, Alice Through the Looking Glass, The BFG, and Pete’s Dragon.
Despite the brand recognition and nostalgia factor, a live-action version of The Jungle Book for modern audiences was far from a sure bet. However, the film's full-length Super Bowl trailer and subsequent television spots have showcased rousing action, charming voice performances, and a truly menacing turn from Idris Elba as the deadly tiger Shere Khan. Now, we have a new TV spot, which you can watch above.
Aside from the snippets of Baloo and Bagheera's conversation at the beginning of the spot -- setting up the emotional stakes involved for the panther who raised Mowgli (Neel Sethi) -- the new spot is another 30-second repackaging of the surprisingly effective Super Bowl footage. It ends with the familiar strains of 'The Bare Necessities,' Baloo's famous signature song from the animated classic -- another indication that this song at least will appear in a form beyond the reference in the Super Bowl trailer.
As we've pointed out, the two upcoming versions of The Jungle Book do not necessarily cancel each other out. Neither appear to be shallow one-offs, but the work of filmmakers who have genuine reverence for the source material, and so far, Favreau's film aims to merge some impressive spectacle and photorealistic CG work with a family-friendly parable that could conceivably resonate across several generations of audiences.
There is a reason that The Jungle Book has remained a beloved narrative, and while the story has clearly been spruced up in a big way, the themes of friendship, courage, and integrity seem to be intact. We'll find out for sure in April.
The Jungle Book will see theatrical release in the U.S. on April 15th, 2016.