Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Next In Line For A Disney Live Action Reboot: "The Jungle Book"

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling (image by Nenad Pantic)
 Wow. This is definitely a huge trend at Disney right now, that is, beloved animation classics getting rebooted as live action movies.

Next on the list is The Jungle Book and it's already in development with a writer attached.

From THR:
Justin Marks has been hired to pen the script.Disney famously adapted the stories in a 1967 animated film (it was the last film to be produced by Walt Disney, who died during production). The stories also have been adapted into numerous live-action and cartoon forms.The Jungle Book stories are in the public domain and are so popular that Warner Bros. is developing its own Mowgli adventure. Steve Kloves, who wrote the majority of the Harry Potter movies, is writing that script. A stage production of the book debuted July 1 at Chicago's Goodman Theatre. (Edit FTNH: link added)Disney’s take is in the early stages, and the project has no producers attached. A search for a director is underway.
Wait. We're going to have dueling Jungle Books too? Or am I reading this press release incorrectly?
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Let's rewind a little and check the press releases for the Warner's announcement of April 2012:
‘Harry Potter’ Screenwriter Steve Kloves to Write and Direct ‘The Jungle Book’ For Warner Bros... 
Variety and Deadline both claim the exclusive to report that Warner Bros. has set Steve Kloves, who scripted seven of the eight Harry Potter films, to write and direct a new live-action version of The Jungle Book. Kloves previously directed The Fabulous Baker Boys andFlesh and Bone. 
We don’t have any details on how Kloves will approach the adaptation, nor which of Kipling’s stories he will use as raw material. Given the buzz we’re hearing this week about Ang Lee’sLife of Pi, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that approach being the basis for this film — in other words, we’ll see a human actor playing Mowgli alongside animals who are realized mostly though CGI. 
Only a handful of the stories in The Jungle Book feature Mowgli, but the Disney film ensured that he is the most famous character from the book. The animated movie changed quite a few things from Kipling’s stories, and given the trend toward faithful adaptations that has developed over the years, I would expect to see Kloves create something that hews a bit more closely to Kipling’s text.
It should be noted that this was announced while Disney was scrambling to set in motion development on Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book (which, Gaiman says was directly inspired by Jungle Book). With Boxtrolls coming and The Graveyard Book still under consideration (the Disney treatments to date haven't worked out but it looks like Ron Howard might be fixing that and we'll get a Graveyard Book movie after all.. eventually), perhaps The Jungle Book interest isn't so coincidental after all.

But the answer is NO. It won't be DUELING Jungle Books (unless you're just counting live action), it will be a... what's the word for THREE parties battling it out? Because there's also a CG Jungle Book film coming to us from the new DQE in 2014.

As it launches a new feature film division, the India-based animation company DQ Entertainment Ireland Ltd. is greenlighting a new, 3D animated version of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. 
The movie is being written by Billy Frolick (Madagascar) and co-directored by Jun Falkenstein (The Tigger Movie) and Kevin Johnson, withJames Hegendus serving as production designer. (Edit FTNH: Wow - they're not playing around here!) 
Pre- and post-production will be based in Los Angeles, with animation being done at DQE’s headquarters in Hyderabad, India.  The company said it is also developing two other classic titles as film projects. 
“Our commitment to animated features marks another major milestone for DQ Entertainment,” Chakravarti said. “By leading off our slate with a 3D stereoscopic version of The Jungle Book, a classic and universally beloved story based in India, our home country, we’re making a bold statement to the industry – that DQE is committed to put the creative, technical and financial resources together to produce compelling, high quality animation for all distribution channels.”    
I'm kind of curious about this one. The Tigger Movie was pretty wonderful and Madagascar had its moments. Looks like it'll be (yet another) battle of the box office.

But back to Disney's reboot, which will likely center heavily around Mowgli to follow in the classic animated film's footsteps.

From Slashfilm:
(Justin) Marks (writer hired) is so far the only name attached to Disney’s Jungle Book. The project is still in the very early stages, and as such has no director, producers, or stars on board. Marks’ credits include Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li and the Universal sci-fi project The Raven(not to be confused with Relativity’s Edgar Allan Poe-inspired The Raven). In addition, he previously worked with Disney on an early draft of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
And you have to wonder what's going to happen with the fantastic songs - from the Beatles vulture's song "That's What Friends Are For" to "Bear Necessities" to "My Own Home" - all of which tell wonderful mini-stories just by themselves ...

It's not like we haven't seen live action version of Disney's Mowgli and The Jungle Book before (was that really 20 years ago??) but that wasn't supposed to be directly related to the animated film. What I'm most interested to see from a tale treatment perspective on all the Jungle Books, is/are:

1) What Disney does with their Mowgli-focused property
2) What Warner Bros. does with their version (as in, can we get a few more of Mr. Kipling's stories out there please?)
3) What an Indian-centric retelling of Jungle Book will be like from DQE.

Most of all - I'm loving that we're seeing fairy tales and folktales from different places being looked at again. There's so much out there and while popular tales and their repeats and reincarnations are their own good thing, I can't help but feel we're missing out on riches upon riches out there with everything from Peer Gynt to Urashima to (one of the many) Baba Yaga tales to many, many (many!) more...

Today's fairy tale real life bonus on a Jungle Book theme:
I don't know how Disney is going to top the real life Tippi. Take a look at these "Aw!" pics! (Click on any for a larger view.)




Sources: Slashfilm, The Hollywood Reporter

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