Though Disney’s Jon Favreau-helmed adaptation of the Rudyard Kipling classic The Jungle Book, which just added Bill Murray to its all-star voice cast yesterday, is clearly in better shape than its rival project at Warner Bros., WB’s Andy Serkis-directed film is also taking steps forward. Recently, the studio announced that the movie’s title had been updated from The Jungle Book to Jungle Book: Origins.
Though that title does sound a little bit impersonal (and conjures up unfortunate memories of X-Men Origins: Wolverine), the change was necessary for Warner Bros.’ film to distance itself from the competition. The Origins subtitle also suggests (not that we needed the hint) that Warner Bros. is clearly angling for a franchise based on Kipling’s novel.
Serkis will make his directorial debut on Jungle Book: Origins, but the acclaimed mo-cap actor has already racked up some impressive credits as a second unit director on Peter Jackson’s first two Hobbit movies. Among other scenes, he directed the barrel chase sequence in The Desolation of Smaug. Serkis is also producing with Harry Potter screenwriter Steve Kloves and with Jonathan Cavendish, Serkis’ partner at his production company The Imaginarium. Callie Kloves, daughter of Steve, is penning the script, which will be her first.
Jungle Book: Origins has not yet begun casting, though it seems likely that Serkis will bring his mo-cap talents to at least one part. It has an uphill battle if it’s to match Disney’s Jungle Book in terms of star power; that movie has recruited the voice talents of Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Christopher Walken and Ben Kingsley for various supporting roles.
What Jungle Book: Origins does have locked down now, in addition to its title, is a release date which plants it on the calendar just over a year after Disney’s The Jungle Book. It has been set to arrive on October 21st, 2016 – a year and a week after Disney’s version is unveiled on October 9th next year.