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Race to Make the 'Jungle Book' Movie: Disney Versus Warner Bros.

First Posted: Aug 23, 2014 04:59 PM EDT
Warner Bros. "Jungle Book" Actor and Director

Photo : Getty

Disney "Jungle Book" Director

Photo : Getty

The beloved 1894 novel and collection of stories "The Jungle Book," by Rudyard Kipling, has now become a hot property in Hollywood. It is now at the center of a race among Disney and Warner Bros. to make a great book-to-film-adaptation. The list of actors include a wide range from Benedict Cumberbatch, Idris Elba, to Andy Serkis.

It was announced this week and in May of this year that both film studios Disney and Warner Bros. would be making a film based off of Kipling's "Jungle Book." Disney's version will be titled "Jungle Book," and Warner Bros.' version will be called "Jungle Book: Origins." Disney has chosen an ethnic cast, while Warner Bros. has gone more traditionally British.

Disney so far has made at least four "Jungle Book" films and one animated TV series. In 1967 it was the original "The Jungle Book" animated film; then the live-action films in 1994 with "Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book," and four years later in 1998 "The Jungle Book: Mowgli's Story." And in 2003 there was a sequel to the 1967 film titled "The Jungle Book 2." "TaleSpin" was the ever popular TV Disney cartoon in the 1990s. In other words, Disney is not new to Kipling's jungle universe.

Disney's version will be animated, while Warner Bros.' one will be a mixture of animation, performance-capture, and live-action. Here is a glimpse of who's who in Disney's "Jungle Book," and Warner Bros.' "Jungle Book: Origins."

Disney's "Jungle Book" will be directed by Jon Favreau ("Iron Man," "Chef"). The role of Mowgli will be voiced and played by first-time professional actor Neel Sethi, 10.

In contrast, Warner Bros. has opted for performance-capture genius Andy Serkis ("King Kong," "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, "The Rise of the Planet of the Apes") to direct their "Jungle Book: Origins." And, they have chosen a rising star, Rohan Chand ("Homeland," "Bad Words"), in the role of Mowgli, BuzzFeed reported. Chand can also be seen in "The Hundred-Foot Journey" which is now playing in theaters.

It was announced this week that Benedict Cumberbatch will be joining Serkis' film as the lethal tiger Shere Khan. Serkis, having worked with Cumberbatch in "The Hobbit" films, will be making his directorial debut with "Jungle Book: Origins," Empire Magazine reported. The script will be written by Callie Kloves.

Justin Marks is writing Disney and Favreau's "Jungle Book." In Disney and Favreau's animated film, the role of Shere Khan will be voiced by Idris Elba ("Luther," "Pacific Rim," "Thor," "Thor: The Dark World"). Bill Murray will voice the loveable bear Baloo.

But Warner Bros. have opted to have Serkis to play the role of Baloo, BuzzFeed reported. This means that Serkis will be directing as well acting in the Warner Bros. version. There is still no word on whether Favreau will voice any other characters.

The black panther known as Bagheera, who is considered to be a surrogate father to Mowgli, will be voiced by Ben Kingsley ("Iron Man 3," "Ghandi", "House of Sand and Fog") in the Disney version; while in Serkis' film Bagheera will be played by Christian Bale ("Terminator Salvation," the "Batman" films).

The leader of the wolf pack. Akela, is expected to be played by Giancarlo Esposito ("Breaking Bad," "Once Upon A Time") in Disney's "Jungle Book," while Warner Bros. choose another British actor for the role of Akela with Peter Mullan ("Trainspotting," "War Horse").

Akela has a mate, and her name is Raksha. In Serkis' film and as it is in the book, there are mated wolves called Nisha and Vihaan. Naomie Harris ("Skyfall") will play Nisha, and Eddie Marsan ("Snow White and the Huntsman") will play Vihaan, BuzzFeed reported. Warner Bros. has not yet cast the role of Raksha.

But Disney has cast their Raksha. The character will be voiced by Lupita NyOng'o ("12 Years A Slave").

Disney's "Jungle Book" is set to come out on Oct. 19 2015, and Warner Bros.' "Jungle Book: Origins" is set to debut on Oct. 21 2016.  

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