Netflix's Andy Serkis-directed Jungle Book movie is now officially titled Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle and a release schedule has been announced. Originally billed as Jungle Book: Origins, this project has been in development at Warner Bros. in some form or another for a number of years and has had a variety of different directors attached. However, once Andy Serkis and his Imaginarium studio became involved, progress was finally made. The original Origins title was eventually scrapped in favor of Mowgli and earlier this year, it was announced that Netflix had purchased the worldwide distribution rights from Warner Bros.
Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle features a star-studded motion capture and voice cast that includes Benedict Cumberbatch as Shere Khan, Christian Bale as Bagheera, Cate Blanchett as Kaa and Naomie Harris as Nisha. Serkis himself will be filling the role of Baloo and the film's live action cast stars young Rohan Chand in the title role. The screenplay was penned by Callie Kloves and Mowgli will be adorned with a soundtrack composed by internationally renowned musician, Nitin Sawhney. Serkis has promised this his version of The Jungle Book will be a markedly more mature and dark adventure compared to previous interpretations.
According to an official press release, Mowgli has now been re-named once again, this time to Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle. It has also been announced that the movie will get a limited theatrical release beginning on the 29th of November before streaming worldwide on Netflix from December 7th.
The fact that moviegoers will be able to witness Mowgli on the big screen is very welcome news indeed. Andy Serkis' reputation for stellar motion capture work makes him a natural fit for a movie where animals account for the bulk of the cast and perhaps the biggest drawback to the film moving to Netflix was that the visual spectacle of these characters being brought to life would only be experienced at home on televisions and smaller devices. Mowgli now has the best of both worlds in terms of its release, offering the big-screen, cinematic experience for those who want it.
Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle's Netflix release is perhaps befitting of the movie's more mature themes. While Warner Bros. may have been keen to craft a more family-friendly Jungle Book movie and edit out some of the grislier moments, Netflix are more likely to have given Serkis the freedom to offer the darker cut he's clearly aiming for. A Netflix release is perhaps also beneficial in the sense that it helps avoid comparison to Disney's 2016 The Jungle Book movie. Coming out so close to another film based on the same source material was always going to make life harder for Mowgli, but a different method of release might just help reach a different audience who are looking for a fresher take on the story.
Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle hits selected theaters on November 29th and Netflix worldwide on December 7th.