Netflix has picked the worldwide distribution rights to Andy Serkis' upcoming mo-cap adventure, 'Mowgli', based in part on Rudyard Kipling's 'The Jungle Book'.
The film was previously in a neck-and-neck race with Disney to release their live-action version of 'The Jungle Book', with Disney beating Warner Bros. to the punch and taking just under a billion at the global box office in the process. Serkis' vision for 'Mowgli' was expected to be much more darker than Disney's take, however Serkis has since said that he's happy that Netflix have taken on the movie as "we avoid comparisons to the other movie and it’s a relief not to have the pressure."
"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."
Netflix have been acquiring movies from studio slates at an increased rate in recent months. Just this year alone, Netflix took 'Annihilation' from Paramount and 'Extinction' from Universal and released both on their streaming service, whilst 'Mowgli' was originally set to be released under Warner Bros. While the success has varied from movie to movie, the streaming giant is keen to take on riskier projects that may not fit well with a typical theatrical release model.
'Mowgli' has a pretty impressive cast lined up, with Benedict Cumberbatch voicing Shere Khan, Christian Bale in the role of Bagheera, Cate Blanchett as Kaa, Naomie Harris and Peter Mullan as the wolves Nisha and Akela, whilst Jack Reynor voices Mowgli's brother wolf with newcomer Rohan Chand playing Mowgli.
The film was originally slated for an October 2018 release in cinemas, however Netflix has pushed the release date to 2019 on their service with a possible theatrical release in the works, according to Deadline's report.