With Marvel/Disney pulling out of San Diego Comic-Con in favor of Disney’s D23 event, Warner Bros. pretty much got free reign of Hall H at the convention as one of the biggest studios there. When they laid out all their Warner Bros. and DC films during the convention, there was a notable absence in the Andy Serkis directed darker take on the Jungle Book that is Mowgli.
Turns out there is a big reason for that absence. Mowgli, as reported by Deadline, has been sold by the studio to Netflix giving the streaming platform arguably it’s the largest film to date. Netflix acquired the finished CGI-live action film and instead of releasing it on the previously snagged October 19 date from Warner Bros. they’ll be holding onto the film to release it globally on Netflix in 2019 with a theatrical run factored in so audiences can see the 3D version Serkis worked on.
Originally the film was in a race with the Jon Favreau directed Jungle Book adaptation that arrived in 2017, but now the film stands somewhat alone with it coming out two years after that Disney effort which is also currently on Netflix (until the deal ends with Netflix next year when all Disney related content will move to their own platform).
“I’m really excited about Netflix for Mowgli. Now, we avoid comparisons to the other movie and it’s a relief not to have the pressure. I’ve seen the 3D version, and it’s exceptional, a different view from the 2D version, really lush and with great depth, and there will be some kind of theatrical component for that. What excites me most is the forward thinking at Netflix in how to present this, and the message of the movie. They understand this is a darker telling that doesn’t fit it into a four-quadrant slot. It’s really not meant for young kids, though I think it’s possible that 10 or above can watch it. It was always meant to be PG-13, and this allows us to go deeper, with darker themes, to be scary and frightening in moments. The violence between animals is not gratuitous, but it’s definitely there. This way of going allows us to get the film out without compromise,” Serkis said. “I think this is their largest acquisition, it’s a big movie. But I never looked at it as a big blockbuster movie. It’s hard to quantify. It has the scale of a blockbuster, but it’s somewhere between Life of Pi and an Apes movie. It has that reality to it, same as Okja had. We are talking about 2019 and circling dates. Netflix has allowed the filmmaking that I wanted to do, to exist and they’ve created an atmosphere for me kind of storytelling I set out to do. “
This acquisition continues Netflix’s rise in the world from a showcase for the work of others to a powerhouse platform full of more and more original or acquired projects. Previously they debuted the film Bright from David Ayer that Warner Bros. and other studios passed on, with a sequel in the works following a successful number of viewers for the original.
Mowgli stars Rohand Chan as Mowgli, Christian Bale as the panther Bagheera, Cate Blanchett as the snake Kaa, Benedict Cumberbatch as the tiger Shere Khan, Freida Pinto as Messua, Tom Hollander as the hyena Tabaqui, Peter Mullan as the wolf Akela, Naomie Harris as the wolf Raksha and Matthew Rhys as the hunter John Lockwood.