Though recent live-action films by Disney have proven to be disastrous (John Carter and The Lone Ranger), adaptations from their beloved animated films have proved immensely popular(Alice in Wonderland). So it should not come as a surprise that it has been reported that Disney is working on a live-action reboot of The Jungle Book.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Disney has tapped Justin Marks, who wrote an early draft of the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea reboot and The Raven (based on a short internet video, and not to be confused with the 2012 film starring John Cusack), to write the screenplay the script. Unlike the animated original, however, Disney will be facing some competition for The Jungle Book. Because Rudyard Kipling collection of stories about the inhabitants of the Indian jungle are in public domain, rival studio Warner Bros. is also planning a version, with Harry Potter‘s Steve Kloves penning the script. Additionally, Disney Theatrical Productions has just debuted a stage musical at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre which will play through August 4.
The recent success of the Oscar-winning films Slumdog Millionaire and The Life of Pi suggests that Hollywood filmmakers are fully embracing the ever-growing Indian market. Disney, like Warner Brothers, seems to realize the necessity of expanding its presence in India where it will prove to an active area for the company’s family brand. It remains to be seen whether The Jungle Book, based on stories written by a white man, can fit that bill.
Many Americans are familiar to the source material by Disney’s 1967 animated version. It has the distinction of being the very last film Walt Disney himself produced. It has been confirmed that Marks’s script will feature a story similar to the animated version in that it will be centered around Mowgli, a young boy raised by wolves whose friends include a bear named Baloo and the panther Bagheera. Disney previously produced a live-action version of The Jungle Book starring Jason Scott Lee as Mowgli in 1994.
Jungle Book joins a list of upcoming live-action installments for Disney. Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie, tells the Sleeping Beauty story from the villain’s perspective. The film is in post-production and has a projected summer 2014 release. A Cinderella adaptation by Thor director Kenneth Branagh is also set to begin filming in the fall.
Jon Sbraccia contributed to this story.