Though Disney clearly has the lead in the race to adapt Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book into a big-budget blockbuster, Warner Bros. is quietly moving along with its own take, now officially titled Jungle Book: Origins. Andy Serkis is making his directorial debut on the pic, after having served as Peter Jackson’s second unit director on the Hobbit trilogy. Now, the first voice lead for the film has been announced – Sherlock actor Benedict Cumberbatch will be lending his voice to the fearsome tiger Shere Khan.
Jungle Book: Origins centers on an orphaned human boy Mowgli, who is raised by wolves and eventually befriends the bear Baloo and the panther Bagheera. Khan, a vicious predator, is Mowgli’s sworn enemy, and each has vowed to slay the other.
Callie Kloves penned the script. Her father Steve, who penned seven out of eight Harry Potter films, is on board as a producer.
Jungle Book: Origins is competing with Disney’s The Jungle Book, which is fully cast and has Jon Favreau directing. In that adaptation, Luther actor Idris Elba is voicing Shere Khan. Additionally, newcomer Neel Sethi is playing Mowgli, while the voice cast boasts Bill Murray as Baloo, Scarlett Johansson as Kaa, Christopher Walken as King Louie, Lupita Nyong’o as Rakcha, Giancarlo Esposito as Akela and Ben Kingsley as Bagheera.
It’s still early days for both projects, but what do you make of this casting announcement? Is Cumberbatch right for the part of Shere Khan, and just as importantly, who would win in a growl-down between him and Elba? Let us know your thoughts below.
Jungle Book: Origins unspools on October 21st, 2016, just over a year after Disney’s take.