Andy Serkis Says That The Jungle Book “Doesn’t Shy Away From Its Darkness”

The London Critics' Circle Film Awards - Red Carpet Arrivals

In the latest of many Hollywood toss-ups, following competing friends-with-benefits, Snow White and White House takeover movies, Warner Bros. and Disney are going head-to-head with different adaptations of Rudyard Kipling’s classic The Jungle Book.

Currently, Disney’s take definitely has the edge, with Jon Favreau locked in to direct and Idris Elba voicing the fearsome tiger Shere Khan. However, WB’s adaptation, which stalled for a time after director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu departed, is finally getting some traction now that Andy Serkis, the character actor behind Gollum in The Lord of The Rings and Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, has been signed to direct. The project will mark Serkis’s feature directorial debut, though he directed second unit on Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy, and he seems absolutely thrilled to have landed the gig.

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter yesterday at CinemaCon, shortly before being honored with the Vanguard Award, Serkis talked a little about the project, voicing tremendous enthusiasm for the story.

“I found it mesmerizing, and it transported me into this incredible world… It’s extraordinary that I’m getting a chance to bring it to the screen.”

Serkis had particularly glowing praise for WB’s script, from Steve and Callie Kloves. Of their work, he noted:

“What I love about the screen adaptation by Steve and Callie Kloves is it’s very truthful to the original book; it doesn’t shy away from its darkness. The jungle is a Garden of Eden and a wonderful place for Mowgli to grow up in, but also is a place of fear and a place of threat.”

As with most reimaginings of classics, it looks like WB’s The Jungle Book will be considerably darker and more serious than past versions. That’s not a bad thing necessarily, given that Kipling’s original book was a suspenseful read with some very gritty sections, but hopefully Serkis’s take will still offer the wondrous visuals that a major studio adaptation of The Jungle Book would seem to demand.

No release date has yet been set for Serkis’s adaptation of The Jungle Book; however, Disney’s take has already been dated for October 9, 2015, so WB will likely announce a date for its version very soon.