Andy Serkis, Not Ron Howard, to Open 'Jungle Book' for Warner Bros.
Warner Bros. was hoping Babel director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu would be at the helm of their adaptation of The Jungle Book towards the end of last year, but when that plan fell through, it seemed like Ron Howard would inherit the project when he entered talks to direct last month. Now THR reports it will be Lord of the Rings and Rise of the Planet of the Apes supporting actor Andy Serkis who will direct the film. Though Serkis was supposed to make his directorial debut with an adaptation of Animal Farm, it sounds like The Jungle Book will fill that role, following his work as a second unit director on The Hobbit.
And if you're thinking that Serkis directing the second unit on The Hobbit doesn't necessarily mean he can take on a big studio film like this as the primary director, it was the motion-capture actor who was responsible for the impressive barrel action sequence on the river in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Apparently Warner Bros. is looking at a darker take on the film, staying more loyal to the book which is much more grounded than Disney adaptations have been before it, though the latter studio is still moving full steam ahead with their new live-action take from Jon Favreau. In fact, Disney just cast Idris Elba as the tiger villain Shere Khan, so they're still ahead on this one.
But with Serkis at the helm Warner Bros. is now on track to stay competitive with Disney's simultaneously developing adaptation, and his experience with special effects in front of and behind the camera for Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, King Kong, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and The Adventures of Tintin makes him the perfect choice to take on this film that will also utilize a lot of visual effects and motion-capture performances to bring some of the animals to life. There's a chance Serkis might even take a role himself. While we don't need two adaptations of The Jungle Book at the same time, they each sound interesting in their own way. We'll have to wait and see which one wins out.