In an unexpected announcement, Netflix has acquired the worldwide rights to Andy Serkis’ “Mowgli” from Warner Bros. Pictures.
The film is a long-delayed, much more adult and more accurate adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s ” The Jungle Book”. At last report, Warners was planning an October 19th theatrical release for the film and already released the first trailer a few months back. Instead, it’s going directly to the streaming service (with a brief theatrical run) and will now sit alongside Michael Bay’s “Six Underground” as two blockbuster-sized films the company will release exclusively in 2019.
Callie Kloves penned the script for the film which was shot in 2015 with extensive use of performance capture technology and a cast that includes the likes of Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, and Benedict Cumberbatch. After Disney’s “The Jungle Book” film was released, Serkis slowed down production and took time to conduct additional photography and fine tune the film.
Speaking with Deadline, Serkis says the move to Netflix is a relief:
“I’m really excited about Netflix for Mowgli. Now, we avoid comparisons to the other movie and it’s a relief not to have the pressure. I’ve seen the 3D version, and it’s exceptional, a different view from the 2D version, really lush and with great depth, and there will be some kind of theatrical component for that.
What excites me most is the forward thinking at Netflix in how to present this, and the message of the movie. They understand this is a darker telling that doesn’t fit it into a four-quadrant slot. It’s really not meant for young kids, though I think it’s possible that 10 or above can watch it.
It was always meant to be PG-13, and this allows us to go deeper, with darker themes, to be scary and frightening in moments. The violence between animals is not gratuitous, but it’s definitely there. This way of going allows us to get the film out without compromise.”
This continues a trend by Netflix of acquiring already-made major films from other studios such as “The Cloverfield Particle” and “Annihilation”. Unlike those though, it’s suggested “Mowgli” will get a limited theatrical run as well in this case to show off the 3D version.