Director and celebrated motion-capture actor Andy Serkis has solved his biggest problem surrounding “Mowgli”: convincing audiences that the viewing experience will be substantially different from what Jon Favreau provided in his 2017 Oscar winner “The Jungle Book.” Deadline reports Netflix has acquired the film’s global rights from Warner Bros., meaning millions will be able to stream the epic — made by an old-guard studio — from the comfort of home upon release. A source with knowledge of the production told IndieWire that Netflix will bring Serkis’ second directed feature (following “Breathe”) to its platform and theaters in 2019.
The live-action features were inspired by characters Rudyard Kipling created for his 1894 story anthology “The Jungle Book,” previously seen onscreen with Disney’s 1967 animated film of the same name. While Serkis said his version and Disney’s latter one were once “neck and neck” in the race to completion, “We took our time with the performance capture, allowing the animators to make the most of the great performances by [Cate] Blanchett, [Benedict] Cumberbatch and Christian Bale, to bring them to life in the most extraordinary way we could.”
Big screens will show a 3D take on “Mowgli.” There had always been questions about how to market the film, which — unlike its predecessors — is “not really meant for young kids,” said Serkis, who wants a PG-13 rating. “This allows us to go deeper, with darker themes, to be scary and frightening in moments. The violence between animals is not gratuitous, but it’s definitely there. This way of going allows us to get the film out without compromise.”
Warner Bros. was scheduled to bring “Mowgli” to theaters on October 19; Serkis, Blanchett, and Cumberbatch, plus co-stars Matthew Rhys and 14-year-old Rohan Chand (who has the lead role) brought footage to the studio’s April CinemaCon presentation at Caesars Palace. Serkis plays Mowgli’s bear pal, Baloo, and also appeared as the villainous Klaue in “Black Panther,” the year’s second-highest-grossing film thus far.