Hollywood studios are infamous for releasing films about essentially the same subject around the same time. In the late 1990s Armageddon famously faced off against Deep Impact to see who could destroy the world better, and A Bug’s Life took on Antz for the family-friendly CGI crown. Even as recently as this year White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen, two films about the White House being taken over, were released no more than a few months apart from each other. Judging by today’s news from Deadline, the trend doesn’t seem to show any signs of slowing down as Warner Bros is reportedly eyeing Babel director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu to helm a feature-film version of The Jungle Book to go against Jon Favreau’s live-action adaptation of the same name that is currently in pre-production at Disney.
The screenplay for Warner Bros’ adaptation of the Rudyard Kipling classic already has a few writers, one of them being Steve Kloves, the man who penned the film version for every single Harry Potter film. The other writer on the project is Callie Kloves, his daughter. Disney is the studio most associated with The Jungle Book after previously releasing two films based off of Kipling’s book, but the studio does not have exclusive rights to the material as Kipling’s work remains in public domain.
Warner’s consideration of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu is odd, but very appropriate considering the ambition to steal the show from the House of Mouse. Each one of the Mexican director’s films has been met with critical-acclaim and Academy Award nominations, from his feature-film debut, Amores Perros, to his latest, Biutiful. While each and every one of those films is spectacularly dark, Inarritu is currently about to release his first ‘comedy’ for Fox Searchlight in 2014: Birdman.
With news of Disney’s The Jungle Book being months old, it will be interesting to see how fast Warners can get production up and running. Between these two Kipling adaptations and Warner Bros/DC’s Batman vs Superman facing off against Marvel/Disney’s Avengers, movie theaters in the next two years are going to look more like a boxing ring.