Disney had already won in the race between it and Warner Bros. to develop and shoot a grounded reimagining of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, but today brings more bad news for WB’s take, titled Jungle Book: Origins. The studio has opted to push the Andy Serkis-directed take, which is still in very early stages of development, back almost a full year, from October 21, 2016, to October 6, 2017.
The studio isn’t giving up that fall 2016 date, however, and has already substituted in Geostorm, an environmental disaster thriller starring Gerard Butler.
Sources say that the date change for Jungle Book: Origins shouldn’t be a cause for alarm. The 2016 date was more of a placeholder than anything else, and now that Serkis is securely in the director’s chair, the studio was happy to give him more time to work on the special effects-heavy project. The shift also puts more distance between WB’s take and Disney’s The Jungle Book, which Jon Favreau is directing with a planned release date of October 9, 2015, in addition to WB’s other jungle-set adventure, Tarzan (set for July 1, 2016).
The cast for Jungle Book: Origins, which will blend motion-capture, CGI and live-action, includes Rohan Chand (Bad Words) as orphaned human boy Mowgli; Benedict Cumberbatch as the voice of the fearsome tiger Shere Khan; Serkis as Baloo the bear; Christian Bale as the kindly panther Bagheera; Cate Blanchett as seductive python Kaa, who becomes a friend of Mowgli’s; Tom Hollander as Tabaqui, a jackal and crony of Shere Khan; Peter Mullan as Akela, the leader of the wolf pack that raises Mowgli; Naomie Harris as female wolf Nisha; and Eddie Marsan as Nisha’s mate, Vihaan.
That’s a hugely stacked cast, and it will be exciting to see what Serkis (making his solo directorial debut here, though he did second unit work on Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy) is able to do with them, even if we have to wait a little longer to see the end results than previously planned.
Jungle Book: Origins will now swing into theaters on October 6, 2017.