Mowgli: Netflix sets limited theatrical run release date for Andy Serkis’ adaptation
Mowgli is moving forward to the big screen.
As detailed by Variety, Netflix has officially dated actor-director Andy Serkis’ upcoming film Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle for a limited theatrical run ahead of its digital debut. The streaming site announced earlier this year that the film would have a “theatrical component built in,” a reassuring reveal after Mowgli was stripped of its planned October 19, 2018 launch date.
Those interested in seeing Mowgli, which stars Rohan Chand as the titular character and spins the classic Rudyard Kipling tale into darker territory, in theaters can do so beginning on November 29 in select locations in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and London. Viewers not keen on heading out into the chilly autumn air to catch the fantasy adventure flick can stay indoors and load up Mowgli on Netflix starting on December 7. From there, Mowgli will launch in additional theaters throughout the U.S. and the U.K.
Like many of the films in which Serkis has starred, Mowgli mixes live-action realness with motion-capture magic. Chand, Matthew Rhys (as John Lockwood), and Freida Pinto (as Messua) make up the live-action cast, with Christian Bale (as Bagheera the Panther), Cate Blanchett (as Kaa the Python), Benedict Cumberbatch (as Shere Khan the Tiger), Naomie Harris (as Nisha the Wolf), Peter Mullan (as Akela the Wolf), Jack Reynor (as Brother Wolf), Eddie Marsan (as Vihaan the Wolf), Tom Hollander (as Tabaqui the Hyena), and Serkis himself (as Baloo the Bear) delivering motion-capture and voice-acting performances.
The difference here, though, is that Mowgli isn’t the typical text-to-screen translation of The Jungle Book with which most people are familiar. This time around, Mowgli is caught between two worlds, and knows that he must ultimately embrace his destiny and transform into the “legend” he was born to be. But since Mowgli, who was raised by wolves in the Indian jungle, has “never truly belonged in either the wilds of the jungle or the civilized world of man,” his journey into both presents immense challenges. Thankfully, Mowgli has his mentors Baloo and Bagheera at his side to teach him everything he needs to know about the harshness of the wilderness and how to avoid ticking off Shere Khan, who refuses to accept the human boy as a member of the animal kingdom. Mowgli will certainly need Baloo and Bagheera’s help when he is confronted with dangers lurking in the jungle and, even more nerve-wracking, his human origins.
Serkis has described his vision for Mowgli as an “emotional version” of The Jungle Book, “which has already been told many times.” The creative recently relayed to Variety his intentions for the film: “I wanted to explore being an outsider. Being dislodged, being other. It is a hugely contemporary idea that could do with exploration.”
This certainly aligns with the teaser trailer studio Warner Bros. debuted earlier this year — and the full-length one (shown above) that the studio unleashed on Thursday, November 8 alongside Netflix’s debut date announcement.
It’s becoming increasingly common for Netflix to release its films in theaters around the same time the streamer makes them available online. The company previously set theatrical releases for Bird Box, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, and Roma – three movies many critics hope will be contenders for Academy Awards. It’s too early in the game to say whether Mowgli could be up for an Oscar at next year’s ceremony, but the fact that the film is officially opening in theaters in a run just long enough for consideration signals that Netflix and Warner Bros. are hoping Serkis will bring them success with his gritty retelling.
Catch Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle in cinemas starting on November 29 and on Netflix beginning on December 7.