It seems that two’s company when it comes to Hollywood. This summer we had two films about the Greek God Hercules. Next year we will have two biopics of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley. And now we’re getting two Jungle Books. Disney, which has already given us a famous animated version of the Rudyard Kipling tale of the boy raised in the wild, is producing a new version of the story, one with a dream cast: Bill Murray as Baloo the bear, Christopher Walken as the orangutan King Louie, and Idris Elba as Shere Khan the villainous tiger. Swingers and Iron Man director Jon Favreau will direct. Also keen to show that it has the bear necessities is Warner Bros., which is preparing the rather pretentious-sounding Jungle Book: Origins, directed by Andy Serkis.
The two studios are keen to distinguish themselves; neither wants to be known for ‘the other Jungle Book‘. While the Disney version has chosen well-known, iconic, crowd-pleasing actors to voice the characters, Warner Bros. has opted to tap into fanboys’ dreams in its choice of director and casting. Serkis, of Lord of the Rings and Planet of the Apes fame, will also play Baloo, and has chosen Christian Bale (The Dark Knight) as Bagheera the panther, Cate Blanchett (Lord of the Rings) as Kaa the python, and Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek; Sherlock; your girlfriend’s dreams) as Shere Khan. Did they ask Cumberbatch because he’s already played someone called Khan? The competing Jungle Book brackets can begin now. Bill Murray or Andy Serkis? Scarlett Johansson or Cate Blanchett? Ben Kingsley or Christian Bale?