Netflix and Andy Serkis' adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, now has a release date: December 7. Serkis made the announcement at a showcase event in Singapore on Thursday and unveiled a new trailer alongside. Serkis' company The Imaginarium and Warner Bros. produced the film and originally intended to release it in cinemas, but ended up selling worldwide distribution rights to Netflix back in July. Netflix will give Mowgli a limited theatrical release in the UK and the US, a week prior to release on November 29.
It's a bit surprising that Warner Bros. didn't have the confidence for a traditional theatrical release given Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle has a stellar voice cast including the likes of Christian Bale as the black panther Bagheera, Cate Blanchett as the python Kaa, and Benedict Cumberbatch as the tiger Shere Khan. Other voice actors include Naomie Harris as as the wolf Nisha, Peter Mullan as wolf leader Akela, and Serkis himself as the bear Baloo. Rohan Chand (Lone Survivor) plays Mowgli, while Matthew Rhys and Frieda Pinto also appear in their human forms.
Serkis' Jungle Book movie was five years in the making, the actor-director revealed in Singapore on Thursday. Filming began in early 2015 and Serkis spent two years in post-production. The delays meant Disney and Jon Favreau beat Warner Bros. and Serkis to the punch, releasing their own The Jungle Book in 2016. The Disney adaptation was a big box office success, becoming the second highest-grossing Hollywood film in India and garnering $966 million worldwide.
For what it's worth, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle offers a more mature take on Kipling's classic story. The book is darker than most people remember it to be, Serkis claimed at the event. He has previously said that it's “really not meant for young kids” and "there's no singing or dancing by the animals". The film has had a tumultuous production, changing titles thrice — the new subtitle ‘Legend of the Jungle' was announced Thursday — and reportedly being “over-baked and over-budget".
Disclosure: Netflix sponsored the correspondent's flights and accommodation for the event.