When you think of The Jungle Book, you somewhat naturally think of Disney’s ‘toon version, with talking animals and brain-itchingly catchy tunes.
But Pathe and the BBC are aiming to change all that, ploughing $50 million (about £10.73 given the exchange rate right now) into a live-action version filled with chatty critters filmed using the Beeb’s natural history unit and given voice thanks to CGI.
John Downer is the man calling the shots, with Richard Kurti and Bev Doyle writing a version of the story that will incorporate footage shot at the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in India and splice in other shots captured on British soundstages. "My ambition is to use pioneering digital and wildlife filming techniques to portray one of the greatest stories of all time just as the author intended - with real live talking animals inhabiting the jungle world of Kipling's India," Downer gushed to Variety.
That story, for the three of you that have never heard it, follows Mowgli, a boy raised by wolves. When he’s kidnapped by monkeys and then rescued by animal pals Baloo the bear, Bagheera the panther and Kaa the python, he’s thrust into his most dangerous adventure – fighting the evil tiger Sher Khan. Downer kicks off shooting in September, but the whole film will take two years thanks to the complicated CG techniques.
Of course, all this is very exciting, but the companies involved seem to think they’re making the brave step into live-action, but seem to have forgotten the 1994 Stephen Sommers-directed effort. Then again, so has everyone else…