Andy Serkis (The Lord of the Rings) is set to direct Warner Bros’ live-action version of The Jungle Book. It’s unknown if he will act in the film. He is replacing Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Babel), who had a scheduling conflict. Warner Bros is in a race with Disney, who also have a live-action Jungle Book movie coming. That film will be directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man) and features Idris Elba as the voice of Shere Khan.
This will be Serkis’ feature directorial debut, but he previously worked as a second unit director on Peter Jacksons’ The Hobbit movies (the third opens in December). The film is based on the short stories by Rudyard Kipling. It follows Mowgli, an orphaned boy raised by wolves. He becomes friends with Baloo the bear and Bagheera the black panther to fight the tiger Shere Khan.
Callie Kloves wrote the script and Callie’s father Steve Kloves (Harry Potter) will produce. WB is going to follow the source material closely, which is darker than most adaptations have been. The studio wants to “explore life-and-death issues and be true-to-life in portraying animal behavior.” Anyone who watched Serkis in Apes knows he is good with animal behavior. Jonathan Cavendish, his partner at The Imaginarium, will produce. John Berg will oversee for WB.