We’ve seen competing friends-with-benefits rom-coms (No Strings Attached and Friends with Benefits), competing Snow White reimaginings (Mirror Mirror and Snow White & the Huntsman), competing White House-centric action flicks (Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down) and will endure two Hercules movies this year (The Legend of Hercules and Hercules), but the next set of suspiciously similar blockbusters on the docket are even more closely linked than any of those.
Warner Bros. and Disney are currently racing to get two adaptations of Rudyard Kipling’s classic The Jungle Book into theaters. And though WB’s adaptation was dealt a serious blow last month when they lost their director, the studio has located a replacement.
Ron Howard, the acclaimed director of Apollo 13 and Rush, will take the reins from Babel helmer Alejandro González Iñárritu, who dropped out of the project in January due to scheduling conflicts. Iñárritu’s sudden exit threw many WB executives into a tailspin, given that getting their Jungle Book out ahead of Disney’s is, in all likelihood, priority number one. And seeing as Jon Favreau is already locked in for Disney’s version, there’s no time to waste.
Whether Howard will be able to take on The Jungle Book as his next project is unclear, though that’s definitely what the studio wants. The filmmaker is currently finishing up post-production on his Chris Hemsworth-starring adaptation of Nathaniel Philbrick’s In the Heart of the Sea, and he’s also attached to Dan Brown adaptation Inferno and drama Mena, based on the true story of a pilot who smuggled contraband for the CIA and a major cartel.
WB’s script comes from Callie Kloves, the daughter of Harry Potter scribe Steve Kloves, who’s on board as a producer. Howard’s involvement means that he’ll also produce through his Image Entertainment.
Of course, The Jungle Book follows a human boy named Mowgli who grows up alongside a pack of wolves in the jungles of India, befriending a bear named Baloo and a black panther named Bagheera. He grows into a formidable young man and eventually does battle with a fearsome tiger named Shere Khan.
More about the project will likely emerge in the coming weeks, as the fine folks over at WB will certainly do their best to fast-track the adaptation. We’ll keep you updated with the latest on both adaptations.
Tell us, are you ready for not one, but two big-screen versions of The Jungle Book?