Andy Serkis has had quite the long journey in crafting his film adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book tales. The original stories are public domain, meaning that anyone can have access to the title when trying to adapt new works from it. Some may be confused as to why Serkis, best known for his role in furthering motion-capture performances in modern cinema, chose to make Mowgli after the huge success of Disney’s The Jungle Book in 2016. This is not the case for he has actually been hard at work crafting his version since before Disney’s release. There was a point a few years ago where Serkis and Disney were at a race to see who could release their version first. Serkis ultimately decided to take more time on his film to perfect the way the motion capture technology would translate onscreen.
Warner Bros. was originally set to release Serkis’ Mowgli on October 19th this year, but Deadline has now revealed that this will no longer be the case. In a turn of dramatic events, Netflix has just acquired the worldwide distributing rights from Warner Bros and now plans a global streaming date sometime in 2019.
This is one of the biggest moves to come from Netflix in the entire history of the company. They previously gained the foreign distributing rights to Alex Garland’s Annihilation and will soon distribute the new Shaft film from New Line and Warner Bros. overseas as well. They also shook the film industry when they surprisingly released a new Cloverfield movie literally right after this year’s Superbowl. The acquisition of Mowgli puts them at a great advantage over other streaming services. Being the sole platform in which a new film directed by Andy Serkis starring Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, and Benedict Cumberbatch gets released means that they are not afraid to stand up next to the big studios.
Serkis released a statement to Deadline in which he described his excitement for the long journey of making the film to end at Netflix. He also teased that there may still be plans for some sort of theatrical release.
I’m really excited about Netflix for Mowgli. Now, we avoid comparisons to the other movie and it’s a relief not to have the pressure. I’ve seen the 3D version and it’s exceptional, a different view from the 2D version, really lush and with great depth, and there will be some kind of theatrical component for that. What excites me most is the forward thinking at Netflix in how to present this and the message of the movie. They understand this is a darker telling that doesn’t fit it into a four-quadrant slot. It’s really not meant for young kids, though I think it’s possible that 10 or above can watch it. It was always meant to be PG-13 and 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.
Serkis then continued to say that he never saw Mowgli as a blockbuster, unlike Disney’s hit which went on to win an Academy Award for visual effects. He lastly said that Netflix allowed him to make the film that he ultimately desired. He does describe his version to be much darker than Disney’s, maybe Warner Bros. was not seeing eye to eye with him on the tone? Whatever the case may be, Serkis seems very sure that his film will thrive best on the borderless platform that is Netflix.
What are your thoughts on having to wait to see Mowgli next year online? Would you still be interested in seeing it in a theater for this possible limited engagement teased by Serkis? Let us know your thoughts on our social media and stay tuned for more updates on Mowgli‘s worldwide Netflix streaming release!