Tale of The Two Jungle Books

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By Ben Wright (@iamzavagno | www.xgeeks.co.uk)

There has been an awakening in the jungle, have you felt it?

That’s right, something is indeed stirring in deep in the heart of the jungle, well two things are stirring, two new Jungle Book films!

Walt Disney and Warner Bros. are both bringing out live-action adaptions of the classic tale.
Disney’s The Jungle Book will be directed by Iron Man’s Jon Favreau, while Warner Bros. Jungle Book: Origins will be directed by ‘king of the motion capture’ Andy Serkis, making his directional debut.

Historically, it’s not unheard of that two adaptions of the same source material being released so close together.
In 2014 we had two adaptions of Hercules!  There was The Legend of Hercules (released January 2014, starring Kellen Lutz) and Hercules (released June 2014, starring The Rock). Chances are, that if you have only seen one of these films, it will be the latter version. The first version bombed with critics, fans and at the box office. It seemed everyone was waiting for The Rock’s Summer blockbuster to come out instead.

With this in mind, are Disney and Warner Bros. in danger of muddying the waters and diluting their financial return?

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One difference is that the films will be a year apart, rather than after the space of a few months. Favreau’s adaption lands this year in the Spring, with Serkis to follow up with his adaption in Autumn 2017.
Another key difference is the angle in which they attempt to approach the films story and tone.
It’s easy to imagine that Jungle Book: Origins (Serkis & Warner Bros.) will stick much closer to the darker source material from Rudyard Kipling.
While Disney’s version will be different to their animated version, but still be a more light-hearted and a child friendly affair in comparison with Origins.

It’s expected that Jungle Book: Origins will not feature any songs, whilst the Disney version is already bringing back the classics ‘”The Bare Neccessities” and “Trust In Me”.
One exciting aspect is that the film will feature brand new songs written by Richard M. Sherman, the last surviving Sherman Brother. It will be nice to hear the Sherman Brother touch on a Disney film once again.

One thing that both films have in common is the wealth of talent in their respective casts. It’s hard to work out which film has the better cast, the talent on show is just that good!
We won’t go in to too much detail regarding the cast as we plan to do a Jungle Book Cast v Origins Cast article in the next few days.

Another issue to consider is the directors, the hit-and-miss Favreau and the newbie Serkis.

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Jon Favreua has had commercial success with films like Iron Man and Elf, but he has also bombed with films like Zathura: A Space Adventure and Chef.
Given that Jon Favreua does not really have his own signature style, it’s a safe bet that he will rely heavily on the songs, and fun elements of the film. Expect lots of filler with CGI animals and lingering landscape shots.
He is a safe choice for this film, he just needs to guide the film along and the films historical reputation and draw power will do the rest.

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Andy Serkis is the wildcard choice for Warner Bros. and their attempt at a, traditionally, Disney classic.
Serkis may have played Gollum in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, but he also acted as second unit director for all three films.
Peter Jackson’s career has seen him rocket from king of the indie-horror scene to king of the box-office. He has worked with small budgets and practical FX, and he has worked with massive budgets and revolutionised the way CGI is used in cinema.
Serkis was learning from someone who has a wealth of knowledge and experience, which should prove invaluable when it comes to his own directional pathway.

With both films being different in style and themes, we should hopefully have two very different films. It’s the differences that are going to make or break the film, and with Jungle Book: Origins coming out the blocks second, the pressure is truly on.

Which Jungle Book movie are you looking forward to more? Let us know in the comments below!

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