Warner Bros. is stranded in the wilderness, looking for that simple, bare necessity to help bring their big-budget adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book to life: a director. Last month, Mexican filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu (21 Grams, Amores Perros) was circling the project. Now, likely due to scheduling woes, Iñárritu is abandoning the adventure drama.
Warner’s Jungle Book film has a finished script from Callie Kloves, the son of Harry Potter screenwriter Steve Kloves. However, since Kipling’s source work is now in the public domain, Disney is also preparing a big-screen version that has Jon Favreau on board as director. The Disney version has a release date of October 9, 2015 and the studio has goodwill with past adaptations of Kipling’s work (notably, the 1967 animated musical and one of the best films from the Disney vault). As a result, Iñárritu’s exit could be a big blow to Warner Bros in getting an advantage over Disney’s adventure.
It’s unfortunate too, as the studio probably thought that they could strike gold for the third time in recent memory with an ambitious production helmed by a world-renowned Mexican filmmaker, after Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity and Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim. Furthermore, with the awards-season success of Life of Pi and Hugo, big-budget adaptations in 3D from masterful directors is a very hot trend right now.
In the meantime, Iñárritu is finishing up Birdman, a showbiz comedy/satire with one of the finest ensemble casts in recent memory (Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Zach Galifianakis, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Amy Ryan). The director is also attached to a long in-development project, The Revenant, about a man lost in the jungle, yearning to seek revenge on the people who abandoned him after a bear attack. Although the setting and plot sounds eerily similar to a certain Rudyard Kipling work, something less whimsical and more viscerally miserable is certainly the forte of the man behind Amores Perros.
With Iñárritu out, who would you suggest to tackle a live-action Jungle Book adaptation for the big screen?