Disney’s The Jungle Book, the live action remake of their 1967 film, was better than it had any right to be. The special effects were awesome, and young Neel Sethi as Mowgli was able to carry the film. It is no wonder that this was a hit for Disney almost bringing in $1 Billion worldwide, but next year Warner Brothers is going to release its own version of Kipling’s famous book, and I am not so sure that it should.
The Jungle Book eliminated most of the flaws the original film had by updating the script to be less pro-West, and cutting Mowgli’s questionable reason for leaving the jungle. It also fleshed out the side characters quite a bit. The live action, while I was doubtful, did breath new life in to these characters. Between The Jungle Book and Cinderella, Disney’s live action train shows no sign of slowing down. Though the less said about the Alice in Wonderland movies the better.
Warner Brothers is now in a perilous position. It has already has spent hundreds of millions to produce their version of the book with the great Andy Serkis starring and directing, but there is almost no way their version will be better, or better enough than Disney’s to make their money back. Now there are more than enough tales to tell from Kipling’s book to make another movie, but I am not sure the audience knows that, and no matter what you do it will still be a young boy in the jungle surrounded by CG animals, so most people are just going to think it is a rip off.
Warner Brothers has already delayed the film to give it a little space from the Disney movie, and they changed the name from The Jungle Book to Jungle Book (so different), but I still think this is going to be a disaster for them. Every time two studios have gone head to head with the same film, one movie bombs or is at least forgotten. Deep Impact lost to Armageddon, Donte’s Peak to Volcano, Mirror Mirror to Snow White and the Huntsman, and for some reason there are always two Three Musketeers movies at the same time (please no more Three Musketeers movies). Jungle Book will loose to The Jungle Book, and with history as its guide Warner Brothers should have known that.
I hope for Andy Serkis’ sake that Jungle Book beats my expectations, but I doubt that it will. It seems to me, if you are a major studio and another major studio is making the same movie and theirs will be out first, you should scrap your plans, or at least put them on a long hold, but as an observer it is always fun to see who will win. Lately Disney has been winning everything.