Andy Serkis has had to deal with two major obstacles in his attempt to make and release Mowgli: Legend Of The Jungle, his darker and grittier adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book.
First of all there was its race against Disney’s own version of The Jungle Book. Which Mowgli lost.
As a result, Warner Bros pushed Mowgli’s release back by 2 years, and watched as Jon Favreau’s film grossed over $966 million in 2016.
Then, just a few months before Mowgli was finally going to hit cinemas after its elongated hiatus, Warner Bros decided to sell the film to Netflix.
“We had started promoting it for Warner Bros,” Serkis tells Metro. “It had a release date with the studio, which was October of this year. We’d already been out to CinemaCon in Las Vegas and been promoting it in Europe.”
Netflix’s last-gasp decision to buy Mowgli
“But then literally the last day that I was working on the Dolby mix I got a call saying they wanted to talk about the release of the movie. And they said, ‘Look, we have been screening this for Netflix and they want to acquire it. What are your thoughts?’ I can’t deny it was a shock at first.”
But Serkis now believes that it was the best thing that could have happened to Mowgli: Legend Of The Jungle.
“I have to say it turned out to be the very, very best thing for this movie. Because when we started out it was always going to be this darker version and I never really imagined it as this four quadrant popcorn movie.”
“It always felt like it had more European sensibilities and it might be the sort of thing that started off at a festival, went to Cannes or Venice and then it would be released after that. It was more Life Of Pi than a Disney animation.”
“I knew that doing it our way meant that there would be challenges for its release. So when Netflix came onboard they completely embraced the whole international aspect of the property. We even ended up having our world premiere in Mumbai. Which was a perfect place to start the film.”
Serkis is also delighted that Netflix have released Mowgli: Legend Of The Jungle into select theaters ahead of hitting the streaming site on December 7.
“The great thing is that they wanted to put it into cinemas, too. We are screening it, you can see it in cinemas. Equally, though, on December 7th it will be released in 190 different countries.”
“Ultimately this story will be seen by more people, more diverse people across the world. So I think that for this movie it is the best thing that could have happened.”
Serkis is clearly besotted with Netflix, as he is now developing another adaptation with the behemoth, this time in the shape of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, which he was actually all set to direct several years ago until the script for Mowgli hooked him.
“I am already back into another talking animals movie which is Animal Farm,” Serkis says. “So I think I have my arms full for a little while. We are developing it now with Netflix. They love that project, too.”
“We have formed a partnership with them. We love working with them. The whole journey, how this film has been marketed, and the energy and enthusiasm from them has been great. We are likely shooting the back end of 2019 and then in 2020 it should come out.”
Mowgli: Legend Of The Jungle debuts Dec. 7 on Netflix.