WATCH: ‘Mowgli’ trailer shows darker adaptation of ‘The Jungle Book’

Warner Bros. Pictures has just released the official first trailer for the action-adventure Mowgli starring Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch and Freida Pinto.

Check out the trailer below and watch “Mowgli” in Philippine cinemas October 18, 2018.

Motion capture and live action are blended for “Mowgli,” a new, big-screen, 3D adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s classic The Jungle Book. The film features an impressive roster of stars under the direction of Andy Serkis.

The story follows the upbringing of the human child Mowgli, raised by a wolf pack in the jungles of India. As he learns the often harsh rules of the jungle, under the tutelage of a bear named Baloo and a panther named Bagheera, Mowgli becomes accepted by the animals of the jungle as one of their own. All but one: the fearsome tiger Shere Khan. But there may be greater dangers lurking in the jungle, as Mowgli comes face to face with his human origins.

The actors performing the roles of the story’s central animal characters are: Oscar winner Christian Bale (“The Fighter,” the “Dark Knight” Trilogy) as the cunning panther, Bagheera; Oscar winner Cate Blanchett (“Blue Jasmine,” “The Aviator”) as the sinister snake, Kaa; Oscar nominee Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Imitation Game,” “Dr. Strange”) as the fearsome tiger, Shere Khan; Oscar nominee Naomie Harris (“Moonlight,” “Skyfall”) as Nisha, the female wolf, who adopts the baby Mowgli as one of her cubs; Andy Serkis (the “Planet of the Apes” trilogy) as the wise bear, Baloo; Peter Mullan (“Tommy’s Honour”) as the leader of the wolf pack, Akela; Jack Reynor (“Transformers: Age of Extinction”) as Mowgli’s Brother Wolf; Eddie Marsan (TV’s “Ray Donovan”) as Nisha’s mate, Vihaan; and Tom Hollander (“Muppets Most Wanted”) as the scavenging hyena, Tabaqui.

On the human side, Matthew Rhys (TV’s “The Americans”) is Lockwood; Freida Pinto (“Knight of Cups”) is Messua; and young actor Rohan Chand (“The Hundred-Foot Journey,” “Bad Words”) will play Mowgli, the boy raised by wolves.

“Mowgli” is produced by Steve Kloves, who wrote seven of the blockbuster “Harry Potter” films; Jonathan Cavendish (“Elizabeth: The Golden Age,” performance capture producer on “Godzilla”); and David Barron (the “Harry Potter” films), with Nikki Penny serving as executive producer. The screenplay is by Kloves’ daughter, Callie Kloves, based on the stories of Rudyard Kipling.

About Mowgli

The Warner Bros. Pictures presentation is slated for release on October 18, in 2D and 3D in select theaters.

Mowgli is distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Neel Sethi plays wild child Mongli in new ‘The Jungle Book’

The only live-action actor among an all-star cast in Disney’s “The Jungle Book,” child performer  was chosen by director Jon Favreau after considering about 2000 kids who auditioned for the lead role of Mowgli.

The now 12-year-old Sethi is a natural athlete, enjoys playing all sports—especially basketball and football. He is working towards earning his black belt in Taekwondo and underwent parkour training to help him prepare him for his role in the film.

Mowgli is a human boy who was abandoned in the jungle as an infant. A black panther named Bagheera discovers the lone baby and takes him to a wolf pack, who adopts the boy as one of their own. Known in the jungle as the man-cub, Mowgli grows up among the animals—some friends, some foes—never doubting for a moment that he belongs.

“Mowgli is a character who wants to fit in,” says Favreau. “He feels alienated. He’s an outsider. A vulnerable little kid, like the ugly duckling in a pack of wolves. Each year the wolf cubs grow and mature faster than him and eventually they get to join the wolf council. He’s left behind like that kid in school who gets left behind every year. Although he’s a plucky, rambunctious kid with a lot of confidence, his life isn’t easy.”

Mowgli finds himself lost and confused when he’s asked to leave the only home he’s ever known. But he’s not completely alone. In fact, he’s guided by two father figures who contribute opposing views. “Mowgli’s a very loving, accepting character,” says producer Brigham Taylor. “He accepts Baloo and Bagheera as they are but ultimately he has to synthesize what he’s learned from both. Baloo is the character that gives Mowgli the freedom to be who he is and express the talents that he has. Bagheera understands the importance of community, social structure, discipline and working together. By the end of the story, Mowgli is able to borrow a bit from both and he makes it work for him in a way that neither one of them necessarily could see from the beginning.”

As the only human character to appear on screen, Sethi was called on to not only portray the beloved Mowgli—but to summon incredible imagination skills in order to visualize the other elements in each scene. “Finding the right kid to play Mowgli was imperative,” says Favreau. “We did an exhaustive worldwide search of 2,000 kids before we found Neel. He was one of the last people that I looked at, and right away, I felt that he had the same emotional and physical qualities that Mowgli had in the ’67 animated version. His look was uncanny in how much he evoked what we wanted. He inherently had a good sense of fun and humor.”

According to casting director Sarah Finn, Sethi won the role with his personality. “Neel embodies the heart, humor, and daring of the character,” says Finn. “He’s warm and accessible, yet also has an intelligence well beyond his years and impressed us all with his ability to hold his own in any situation. His natural charisma and instincts jumped out at us.”

Adds Taylor, “It was an ecstatic moment in casting that I’ve never experienced before. Neel is one of the fastest learners I’ve ever seen and Jon [Favreau] is perhaps the best acting coach ever.”

The director’s coaching skills came in handy since Sethi had never acted professionally. “Everything in this movie is geared toward the performance of this one kid,” says Favreau. “I’ve worked with enough kids to be confident in my own taste and my ability to get the performance. He was just so real. He felt right. We knew we found our Mowgli.”

“The Jungle Book” is an all-new, live-action epic adventure about Mowgli (Neel Sethi), a man-cub raised by a family of wolves. But Mowgli finds he is no longer welcome in the jungle when fearsome tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba), who bears the scars of Man, promises to eliminate what he sees as a threat. Urged to abandon the only home he’s ever known, Mowgli embarks on a captivating journey of self-discovery, guided by panther-turned-stern mentor Bagheera (Ben Kingsley), and the free-spirited bear Baloo (Bill Murray). Along the way, Mowgli encounters jungle creatures who don’t exactly have his best interests at heart, including Kaa (Scarlett Johansson), a python whose seductive voice and gaze hypnotizes the man-cub, and the smooth-talking King Louie (Christopher Walken), who tries to coerce Mowgli into giving up the secret to the elusive and deadly red flower: fire.

The wild adventure swings into Philippine theaters in 3D on Thursday, April 7, 2016. “The Jungle Book” is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

Follow the official social media accounts of Disney in the Philippines, namely, (FB) WaltDisneyStudiosPH, (Twitter) @disneystudiosph and (Instagram) @waltdisneystudiosph and use the hashtag #JungleLife.

Scarlett Johansson tempts as Python, Kaa in ‘The Jungle Book’

With only her voice, Scarlett Johansson made people madly fall in love with their computer’s operating system in the futuristic drama “Her.” Now, Johansson once again uses her voice to capture hearts in Disney’s new family adventure “The Jungle Book,” based on Rudyard Kipling’s timeless stories and inspired by Disney’s classic animated film.

Johansson provides the voice of Kaa sets her sights on Mowgli when she discovers him all alone in the jungle. The massive python uses her seductive voice and hypnotic gaze to entrance the man-cub, and Mowgli finds himself unable to resist her captivating embrace.

Says director Jon Favreau, “Mowgli is exploring different regions of the jungle—mistier, darker, more mysterious parts of the jungle. That’s where Kaa lives. That’s where she gets ahold of him—till Baloo rescues him and brings him back to his cave.”

The director says one of his most prominent memories of the 1967 animated movie was the snake. “I always remembered Kaa’s hypnotic eyes with the spinning pinwheels,” he says.

Though Favreau wanted to maintain the spirit of the character, he decided to change its gender. “All the roles were male in the 1967 version, so I thought that there was an opportunity with Kaa to mix things up a little bit,” says Favreau, who called on Johansson to help bring the seductive snake to life.

“The Jungle Book” marks Johansson’s third collaboration with Favreau. She originated the role of Black Widow in “Iron Man 2,” and co-starred in Favreau’s indie hit “Chef.” “I remember seeing the movie ‘Her,’ and what an impact Scarlett made by just using her voice,” says the director. “She has such a presence to her voice.”

Says Johansson, “Ever since I was really young, I’ve loved doing voice work. Actors have different tools—our physical selves, our voices. When you take one of those away you become hyperaware of all kinds of tendencies. It’s an interesting process and sometimes you get these happy accidents and ornaments that decorate the performance. It’s an exciting way to work and dig deeper.

“For me,” continues Johansson, “the opportunity to play Kaa as envisioned by Jon [Favreau] was so exciting. The snake from the animated film is a boy. He’s a friendlier, goofier version of the character. In this film, Kaa seduces and entraps Mowgli with her storytelling—her voice. She’s the mirror into Mowgli’s past. It was thrilling to reinvent this character in this rendering of the story.”

The character is designed to be intimidating, yet believable. “I saw a bit of Kaa early on during the production,” says Johansson. “It was important for me to see how she looks in proportion to Mowgli to help inform the presence and intensity of my voice. I had one tool—my voice—so it would’ve been very difficult without some sort of pre-visual reference.

“Kaa is magnificent,” continues Johansson. “The way that she moves is very alluring, almost coquettish. The audience will see this creature through the innocent eyes of this small boy Mowgli—they’ll become part of his world.”

Johansson has vivid memories of the 1967 version of “The Jungle Book.” “I remember that soundtrack well—it was so popular when I was a kid. ‘Bare Necessities’ was on constant repeat for every kid my age. And the idea of this jungle kid being raised by animals was just fantastic.

“I think little kids can relate to the theme of finding your family—of discovering what it means to be a family,” continues the actress. “The definition of family is such a personal one and families come in all shapes and sizes. But ultimately, family is made up of the people around you who love you unconditionally.”

“The Jungle Book” is an all-new, live-action epic adventure about Mowgli (Neel Sethi), a man-cub raised by a family of wolves. But Mowgli finds he is no longer welcome in the jungle when fearsome tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba), who bears the scars of Man, promises to eliminate what he sees as a threat. Urged to abandon the only home he’s ever known, Mowgli embarks on a captivating journey of self-discovery, guided by panther-turned-stern mentor Bagheera (Ben Kingsley), and the free-spirited bear Baloo (Bill Murray). Along the way, Mowgli encounters jungle creatures who don’t exactly have his best interests at heart, including Kaa (Scarlett Johansson), a python whose seductive voice and gaze hypnotizes the man-cub, and the smooth-talking King Louie (Christopher Walken), who tries to coerce Mowgli into giving up the secret to the elusive and deadly red flower: fire.

The wild adventure swings into Philippine theaters in 3D on Thursday, April 7, 2016. “The Jungle Book” is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

Follow the official social media accounts of Disney in the Philippines, namely, (FB) WaltDisneyStudiosPH, (Twitter) @disneystudiosph and (Instagram) @waltdisneystudiosph and use the hashtag #JungleBookPH.

Lupita Nyong’o lends voice to Wolf, Raksha in ‘The Jungle Book’

Raksha, a loving and fiercely protective mother wolf, cares deeply for all of her pups—including man-cub Mowgli (Neel Sethi), whom she adopts as one of her own when he’s abandoned in the jungle as an infant.

Oscar® winner Lupita Nyong’o (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”) was called on to help bring Raksha to life, in Disney’s new family adventure “The Jungle Book,” based on Rudyard Kipling’s timeless stories and inspired by Disney’s classic animated film.

“We relied a little more on Kipling when it came to Raksha,” says director Jon Favreau. “The wolves have a much greater significance in his stories, which was important to me.”

“I just love my character,” says Nyong’o. “She is the protector, the eternal mother. The word Raksha actually means protection in Hindi. I felt really connected to that, wanting to protect a son that isn’t originally hers but one she’s taken for her own.

“I really enjoyed preparing for this and learning about wolves and how social they are, how they stick together,” continues Nyong’o. “There’s such an order—a hierarchy—to a wolf pack. Mowgli tries to fit in with the other wolf pups. He has his challenges, but he is very much a part of the pack as far as Raksha is concerned.”

Producer Brigham Taylor credits the actress with channeling her inner wolf. “Lupita just nailed the emotion of this character, which wasn’t really fleshed out in the animated version,” he says. “She intuitively captured that bond between an adoptive mother and her son.”

Adds Favreau, “She’s elegant and refined, but it’s more than that. She has an accessibility about her that was what we really wanted for Raksha. She feels like a mom, but she clearly comes from somewhere different than where Mowgli does.”

Nyong’o says she was familiar with the story when filmmakers approached her. “I grew up watching the Disney version and loved it so much,” she says. “As a little girl, my favorite character was Baloo. The magic of Mowgli’s story is that every child can identify with that feeling that you are the only one of your kind. I really identified with that idea. And going on an adventure with no adults is the ultimate childhood fantasy. I loved that this kid got to realize himself through this amazing adventure. It’s a wonderful coming-of-age story.”

“The Jungle Book” is an all-new, live-action epic adventure about Mowgli (Neel Sethi), a man-cub raised by a family of wolves. But Mowgli finds he is no longer welcome in the jungle when fearsome tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba), who bears the scars of Man, promises to eliminate what he sees as a threat. Urged to abandon the only home he’s ever known, Mowgli embarks on a captivating journey of self-discovery, guided by panther-turned-stern mentor Bagheera (Ben Kingsley), and the free-spirited bear Baloo (Bill Murray). Along the way, Mowgli encounters jungle creatures who don’t exactly have his best interests at heart, including Kaa (Scarlett Johansson), a python whose seductive voice and gaze hypnotizes the man-cub, and the smooth-talking King Louie (Christopher Walken), who tries to coerce Mowgli into giving up the secret to the elusive and deadly red flower: fire.

The wild adventure swings into Philippine theaters in 3D on Thursday, April 7, 2016. “The Jungle Book” is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

Follow the official social media accounts of Disney in the Philippines, namely, (FB) WaltDisneyStudiosPH, (Twitter) @disneystudiosph and (Instagram) @waltdisneystudiosph and use the hashtag #JungleBookPH.

Idris Elba speaks for tiger, Shere Khan in Disney’s ‘The Jungle Book’

Bengal tiger Shere Khan bears the scars of Man, which fuel his intense hatred of humans. Powerful and menacing, the fearsome tiger makes no secret of his feelings about man-cub Mowgli and his presence in the jungle. Shere Khan’s mission, above all else, is to ensure Mowgli—and the fire he knows Man wields—pose no future threat. Deep down, Shere Khan seeks revenge upon Man, and it’s Mowgli who will pay the price.

Recently winning the Screen Actors Guild award for Best Supporting Actor (“Beasts of No Nation”), Idris Elba brings the tiger Shere Khan to life, in Disney’s new family adventure “The Jungle Book.” Directed by Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”), the new movie is based on Rudyard Kipling’s timeless stories and inspired by Disney’s classic animated film.

(Watch the “Intro to Shere Khan” clip below.)

“Jon [Favreau] and I sculpted what the sound should be,” says Elba. “It was a delicate set of negotiations till we found the right voice.”

“Idris wields tremendous presence in a room, which is evident in his voice,” says Favreau. “He’s got such gravity and brings his steely presence, a deep timbre that echoes in a larger-than-life way. He understands this scarred, imposing tiger in a way the character demands.”

“Shere Khan reigns with fear,” says Elba. “He terrorizes everyone he encounters because he comes from a place of fear.

Elba was shocked when he saw the character come to fruition. “When Jon [Favreau] showed me Shere Khan’s expressions and how he moves, I had to ask, ‘Is that a real tiger?’ The technology is incredible.”

“The Jungle Book” is an all-new, live-action epic adventure about Mowgli (Neel Sethi), a man-cub raised by a family of wolves. But Mowgli finds he is no longer welcome in the jungle when fearsome tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba), who bears the scars of Man, promises to eliminate what he sees as a threat. Urged to abandon the only home he’s ever known, Mowgli embarks on a captivating journey of self-discovery, guided by panther-turned-stern mentor Bagheera (Ben Kingsley), and the free-spirited bear Baloo (Bill Murray). Along the way, Mowgli encounters jungle creatures who don’t exactly have his best interests at heart, including Kaa (Scarlett Johansson), a python whose seductive voice and gaze hypnotizes the man-cub, and the smooth-talking King Louie (Christopher Walken), who tries to coerce Mowgli into giving up the secret to the elusive and deadly red flower: fire.

The wild adventure swings into Philippine theaters in 3D on Thursday, April 7, 2016. “The Jungle Book” is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

Follow the official social media accounts of Disney in the Philippines, namely, (FB) WaltDisneyStudiosPH, (Twitter) @disneystudiosph and (Instagram) @waltdisneystudiosph and use the hashtag #JungleBookPH.

Bill Murray breathes life to Baloo in Disney’s ‘The Jungle Book’

Academy Award-nominee Bill Murray (“Lost in Translation”) breathes life to Baloo, a free-spirited bear who meets Mowgli (Neel Sethi) after the man-cub has been banished from the jungle, in Disney’s new family adventure “The Jungle Book,” based on Rudyard Kipling’s timeless stories and inspired by Disney’s classic animated film.

“Baloo is a huge bear, bigger than life,” says director Jon Favreau. “He’s that teacher that youvp have in high school that encourages you to read the books that maybe you weren’t allowed to read, and opens your eyes to what the world is really all about. He’s a subversive thinker. He is not a guy who exactly fits into jungle society. He plays by his own rules and he encourages Mowgli to do the same.”

According to the director, Baloo is more complex than meets the eye. “The trick with Baloo is to capture that avuncular nature that he had in the 1967 film. He was lazy, he liked to eat. But he wasn’t a big, cuddly bear. He growled and roared. He knew how to fight and he knew how to protect himself. And still he bonds with this kid—he grows to care about him. Bill Murray was able to preserve those qualities while still bringing his iconic voice to the role.”

Favreau wanted the Oscar®-nominated actor to voice Baloo from the project’s inception. “He’s perfect,” says the director. “Bill just exudes all the charm and humor that you need and expect from Baloo. He has a certain dryness and a rebellious quality.

“I have always wanted to work with Bill Murray,” continues Favreau. “I’m a huge fan. But he’s not the easiest guy to get ahold of. Getting Bill Murray to agree to do your movie is like catching a unicorn. You have to stalk him.”

Fortunately for Favreau, the director caught his unicorn. “It turns out, Bill loves the character,” he says. “Once he came aboard, he was incredibly passionate. He has a very high standard.”

“I just couldn’t say no to playing Baloo,” says Murray. “Jon [Favreau] is a terrific storyteller and I’m such a huge fan of the original stories. Kipling wrote a lot of amazing stuff. I read that book when I was about 22 and I’ve always thought that it was just extraordinary writing.”

“The Jungle Book” is an all-new, live-action epic adventure about Mowgli (Neel Sethi), a man-cub raised by a family of wolves. But Mowgli finds he is no longer welcome in the jungle when fearsome tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba), who bears the scars of Man, promises to eliminate what he sees as a threat. Urged to abandon the only home he’s ever known, Mowgli embarks on a captivating journey of self-discovery, guided by panther-turned-stern mentor Bagheera (Ben Kingsley), and the free-spirited bear Baloo (Bill Murray). Along the way, Mowgli encounters jungle creatures who don’t exactly have his best interests at heart, including Kaa (Scarlett Johansson), a python whose seductive voice and gaze hypnotizes the man-cub, and the smooth-talking King Louie (Christopher Walken), who tries to coerce Mowgli into giving up the secret to the elusive and deadly red flower: fire.

The wild adventure swings into Philippine theaters in 3D on Thursday, April 7, 2016. “The Jungle Book” is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

Follow the official social media accounts of Disney in the Philippines, namely, (FB) WaltDisneyStudiosPH, (Twitter) @disneystudiosph and (Instagram) @waltdisneystudiosph and use the hashtag #JungleBookPH.

Ben Kingsley lends voice of Panther, Bagheera in ‘The Jungle Book’

Bagheera is a sleek and stunning panther who rescued Mowgli when he was abandoned in the jungle as an infant. The effort bonded the big cat to the man-cub—indeed, Bagheera has a bit of a soft spot for the boy. As Mowgli’s mentor, Bagheera guides him to faithfully follow the laws of the jungle. And when it comes time for Mowgli to leave his jungle home, Bagheera feels it’s his duty to help the man-cub depart with dignity.

Academy Award® winner Ben Kingsley brings his noble voice to Bagheera in Disney’s new family adventure “The Jungle Book.” “He just brought this elegance and refinement to the character, yet with great firmness,” says director Jon Favreau. “He’s an interesting dude with crazy range.”

Says Kingsley, “Bagheera is Mowgli’s adoptive parent. His role in Mowgli’s life is to educate, to protect and to guide.

“As an actor,” continues Kingsley, “I have to find my hook into the character. I decided that the role lent itself to the rhythm of the writing if my Bagheera was military—he’s probably a colonel. He is instantly recognizable by the way he talks, how he acts and what his ethical code is.”

The actor considered the character’s physicality when recording. “When Bagheera is looking back at the story of Mowgli when he was his tutor, I liked to be seated in the recording studio—reclined, very relaxed. I’m telling a story. But when the character is leading him across the jungle, actively protecting Mowgli, I use a much more physical approach toward the microphone. It’s quite a disciplined craft.”

Kingsley grew up with the source material. “Rudyard Kipling’s stories of Mowgli’s adventures with these extraordinary, beautifully defined characters introduce many around the world to the Indian subcontinent and its culture,” he says.

The actor was also a fan of the animated film based on Kipling’s stories. “I loved the 1967 Disney version,” he says. “I loved the characters, the music.”

At its core, says Kingsley, “The Jungle Book” is about one’s search for family. “There are many wonderful stories that are based on the struggle of an orphan to find a family—to create a family around him, which is a very poignant part of Jon Favreau’s version of the film. It will have its beautiful, thrilling, exciting, joyous moments of celebration. But must also quite rightly have its darker moments, because we’re dealing with a very isolated child who triumphs over enormous odds.”

“The Jungle Book” is an all-new, live-action epic adventure about Mowgli (Neel Sethi), a man-cub raised by a family of wolves. But Mowgli finds he is no longer welcome in the jungle when fearsome tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba), who bears the scars of Man, promises to eliminate what he sees as a threat. Urged to abandon the only home he’s ever known, Mowgli embarks on a captivating journey of self-discovery, guided by panther-turned-stern mentor Bagheera (Ben Kingsley), and the free-spirited bear Baloo (Bill Murray). Along the way, Mowgli encounters jungle creatures who don’t exactly have his best interests at heart, including Kaa (Scarlett Johansson), a python whose seductive voice and gaze hypnotizes the man-cub, and the smooth-talking King Louie (Christopher Walken), who tries to coerce Mowgli into giving up the secret to the elusive and deadly red flower: fire.

The wild adventure swings into Philippine theaters in 3D on Thursday, April 7, 2016, “The Jungle Book” is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

Follow the official social media accounts of Disney in the Philippines, namely, (FB) WaltDisneyStudiosPH, (Twitter) @disneystudiosph and (Instagram) @waltdisneystudiosph and use the hashtag #JungleBookPH.

‘Gravity,’ ‘Avatar’ artists tap latest tech for Disney’s ‘The Jungle Book’

Filmmakers explored the best way to immerse audiences in the world they’d imagined in their new version of Walt Disney Pictures’ reimagined “The Jungle Book.”

Says director Jon Favreau, “We asked ourselves, ‘How can we create a world? How can we use this technology, these storytelling tools to their fullest potential?’ Ideally, we wanted the audience to forget that it’s technology—they’ll just get transported.”

Filmmakers assembled a team of experts with movies like “Life of Pi,” “Gravity” and “Avatar” under their belts. Visual effects supervisor Rob Legato boarded the project very early on to design a workflow, a system and VFX pipeline, employing the very latest iteration of movie magic, which would allow his director the freedom to push the limits of what’s possible in filmmaking. “It’s a photo-real film grounded in the real world,” says Legato. “There’s something very interesting about that.”

Says Favreau, “We take the best of the photo-real animation process, the best motion-capture techniques and the best of live-action shooting and combine these three things in a way that that nobody’s done before. We discovered that we could use cutting-edge technology to create something that appears completely realistic and organic to the audience.

“If you want believability, the physics must be real,” the director continues. “Mowgli and the designs are executed in a real way, but we took a tremendous amount of liberty when we made the jungle. Not unlike Disneyland, we realized that we could make the animals a little bigger than life to help accentuate how vulnerable this little boy feels in the jungle. Every corner of the screen is filled with tremendous detail. We have this beautiful, lush jungle canopy and you have the art direction and the cinematography that’s evocative of the old multi-plane camerawork from the animated films.”

Legato’s VFX team collaborated with Andy Jones’ animation team, kicking off the effort with extensive research. “Footage of animals in the wild, in the proper sunlight is our basis and foundation for reality,” says Jones. “Photographic real references of animals are our backbone and starting point. We then slightly tweaked some of the renderings of the animals based on the voice actors’ performances, but never to the point of crossing the line into becoming cartoony.”

Filmmakers employed cutting-edge CGI to capture the animal’s performances. “Each animal has a unique emotional language,” says Favreau. “A tiger expresses anger much differently than a wolf or a bear would.”

In lieu of matching CG environments to an actual jungle, filmmakers decided to build an almost entirely digital jungle. “We found we were able to exaggerate and enhance certain elements like scale,” says Favreau. “We can take foliage from India’s jungles and heighten certain colors. But it’s all rooted in reality.”

“The audience will feel the grandeur of the Indian jungle,” adds Legato. “They’ll experience this exotic land. That’s part of the fun of going to the movies—seeing a place you’ve never seen before. Living it. Walking through it.”

the jungle book movie

The process called for careful planning and extensive pre-visualization work, particularly considering that the film’s human character, Mowgli, touches and interacts with the environment he’s in. Designers built a practical set—creating only what was needed for a particular shot—that was later blended with the CG environment. “We could look at the monitor and see the virtual set we’d already built and how it married perfectly into that environment,” says Favreau. “We could get the full picture when we looked at the monitor with the Simulcam in it. We could move the camera and see off into the distance—we could see every mountain and tree that was supposed to be there.”

Concludes the director, every choice was made with the audience in mind. “The audience has to be taken on a ride. They want thrills, adventure, excitement, laughs. And they want emotion. I tried to make a movie that I’d want to see.”

The wild adventure swings into Philippine theaters in 3D on Thursday, April 7, 2016. “The Jungle Book” is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

Follow the official social media accounts of Disney in the Philippines, namely, (FB) WaltDisneyStudiosPH, (Twitter) @disneystudiosph and (Instagram) @waltdisneystudiosph and use the hashtag #JungleBookPH.

‘Iron Man’ director Jon Favreau helms Disney’s all-new ‘The Jungle Book’

Acclaimed director Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”) takes audiences on a wild ride back to the jungle, in Walt Disney Pictures’ all-new live-action epic adventure, “The Jungle Book.”

Based on Rudyard Kipling’s classic novel, “The Jungle Book” tells the story of Mowgli, a man-cub who’s been raised by a family of wolves. But Mowgli finds he is no longer welcome in the jungle when fearsome tiger Shere Khan, who bears the scars of Man, promises to eliminate what he sees as a threat. Urged to abandon the only home he’s ever known, Mowgli embarks on a captivating journey of self-discovery, guided by panther-turned-stern mentor Bagheera, and the free-spirited bear Baloo. Along the way, Mowgli encounters jungle creatures who don’t exactly have his best interests at heart, including Kaa, a python whose seductive voice and gaze hypnotizes the man-cub, and the smooth-talking King Louie, who tries to coerce Mowgli into giving up the secret to the elusive and deadly red flower: fire.

According to Favreau, story is king. “I think films have to offer an emotional experience for the audience,” says the director. “The spectacle won’t mean anything if they’re not engaged emotionally with the characters. Every story needs humanity, emotion and character development, as well as humor—presented in a way that doesn’t betray the stakes of the film. There are white-knuckle moments in the movie when you wonder, ‘what’s going to happen to this kid?’”

Filmmakers didn’t set out to create a beat-by-beat literal remake of the original animated film, nor a total return to Kipling’s version. Finding just the right tone for this new version of the story was a fundamental priority. Favreau’s adaptation of “The Jungle Book” draws its inspiration from the beloved Disney animated classic, while still retaining the gravitas and mythology inherent in Rudyard Kipling’s original stories.

Says Favreau, “We kept going back to the basic idea of Mowgli as a boy raised in the jungle who is forced to leave because of the presence of this big bad enemy—the tiger Shere Khan. We have Mowgli who’s living a happy-go-lucky life, but doesn’t quite fit in a jungle because he’s human. Although he’s been raised by wolves and lived in the jungle, he doesn’t have the physical attributes required to survive in that environment. The jungle—beautiful with some friendly inhabitants—is a very dangerous place.

“We borrow from Kipling in that it’s an environment where there’s real jeopardy,” continues the director. “It’s not safe for a kid. We took the basic story structure of the animated film, but we do it in a way that has a more story stakes. We play with a tone that has a lot more jeopardy and where survival isn’t necessarily a given.”

“It’s a coming-of-age story about a kid who is figuring out his place in the world,” adds producer Brigham Taylor. “The adventure is real, the stakes are high, but at the same time, the film is warm and humane. It’s hard to find that combination, but Jon brings it all to the table.”

According to Favreau, it’s that balance that appeals to viewers of all ages. “As a parent, I’m so grateful when there’s a film that’s appropriate for my kids see but doesn’t talk down to them. Kids can keep up with sophisticated storytelling. Walt’s dream was always to pull families together but not necessarily in the most obvious or predictable way.

“In our version, if you’re a Disney fan, you’ll notice attention to detail that honors the film’s legacy,” concludes the director. “If you’re a kid seeing ‘The Jungle Book’ for the first time, you might forget to eat your popcorn it’s going to be a really fun ride.”

The wild adventure swings into Philippine theaters in 3D on April 6, 2016. “The Jungle Book” is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

Follow the official social media accounts of Disney in the Philippines, namely, (FB) WaltDisneyStudiosPH, (Twitter) @disneystudiosph and (Instagram) @waltdisneystudiosph and use the hashtag #JungleBookPH.

Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Jungle Book’ to touch new generation in new Disney film

Disney’s “The Jungle Book” is an all-new live-action epic adventure about Mowgli, a man-cub who’s been raised by a family of wolves. But Mowgli finds he is no longer welcome in the jungle when fearsome tiger Shere Khan, who bears the scars of Man, promises to eliminate what he sees as a threat. Urged to abandon the only home he’s ever known, Mowgli embarks on a captivating journey of self-discovery, guided by panther-turned-stern mentor Bagheera, and the free-spirited bear Baloo. Along the way, Mowgli encounters jungle creatures who don’t exactly have his best interests at heart, including Kaa, a python whose seductive voice and gaze hypnotizes the man-cub, and the smooth-talking King Louie, who tries to coerce Mowgli into giving up the secret to the elusive and deadly red flower: fire.

Based on Rudyard Kipling’s timeless stories, “The Jungle Book” is inspired by Disney’s classic animated film, with an approach all its own. “We embrace the mythic qualities of Kipling in the more intense tonal aspects of the film,” says director Jon Favreau,“but we left room for what we remember from the ’67 film, and sought to maintain those charming Disneyesque aspects.”

“Kipling’s stories follow Joseph Campbell’s ‘hero with a thousand faces’ view of mythic storytelling,” adds Favreau. “You have the rise of the hero—a young boy coming of age in the jungle in this environment with all of these archetypal characters. As a filmmaker I find this as very fertile soil.”

Kipling’s stories have been adapted several times in the 12 decades that followed their publication. Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ animated movie, “The Jungle Book,” was overhauled when Walt Disney felt that early drafts, which retained the darker tone of Kipling’s stories, were too serious. Released on Oct. 18, 1967, a year after Disney’s death, the film became a beloved classic. With iconic songs like Terry Gilkyson’s “The Bare Necessities” and the Sherman Brothers’ “I Wanna Be Like You,” the film’s soundtrack still inspires instantaneous humming and toe-tapping today. Disney’s “The Jungle Book” was released theatrically two more times, as well as in-home video, DVD and Blu-ray releases, earning fans across generations and rooting Mowgli and his animal friends and foes in hearts around the world.

“The bond between Mowgli and Baloo made a very strong impression on me as a kid,” says Favreau. “It reminded me of my own relationship with my grandfather, who was a big part of my life. I really like that Mowgli is rambunctious, always getting into trouble. He isn’t the standard well-behaved kid, but a bit precocious—a ‘Dennis the Menace’ type. He isn’t intimidated by these big wild animals, in fact, he’s completely at home among them. He’s a tough kid but also very vulnerable emotionally, especially with Baloo.

“There was a fun quality to Disney’s classic animated version of ‘The Jungle Book,’” continues Favreau. “I loved the music and I remember having vivid dreams about the characters. The scenes that made a big visual impression on me—that I am carrying over to this version of film—are images of Mowgli going down the river on the belly of Baloo, the python Kaa with its hypnotic eyes, and the majesty of those elephants marching by.”

The wild adventure swings into Philippine theaters in 3D on April 6, 2016. “The Jungle Book” is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

Follow the official social media accounts of Disney in the Philippines, namely, (FB) WaltDisneyStudiosPH, (Twitter) @disneystudiosph and (Instagram) @waltdisneystudiosph and use the hashtag #JungleBookPH.